By Kaitlin Ahern

Ali Forney Center Kicks Off 10th Year with $500,000 Grant

  |  Local News - Manhattan  

The Ali Forney Center kicks off its 10th year with a grant of $500,000 that will help build the nation's first 24-hour drop-in service center for homeless LGBT youth.

The Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization working on behalf of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, announced January 4 that it was awarded a two-year matching $500,000 Challenge Grant from the Calamus Foundation of New York. This grant will help launch the nation's first 24-hour drop-in services center for homeless LGBT youth.

In 2012, the Calamus Foundation has pledged to match all donations made by new donors or increased donations made by existing donors-dollar for dollar-up to $250,000. In the second year, 2013, the foundation will award $1 for every $2 donated by new or increased donors, up to $250,000.

ali forney center youth and staff members
Ali Forney Center youth and staff members. Courtesy Ali Forney Center.

"The Ali Forney Center is thrilled to kick off our 10th anniversary year by opening a services center available to youth at any times of the day or night," says Carl Siciliano, executive director of the center. "This facility will help address one of our major concerns: the growing number of homeless LGBT youth on the center's waiting list who resort to sleeping on park benches and subway cars and must engage in high-risk behavior to survive."

When the waiting list reached 200 names last summer, Siciliano knew the center had to take action to increase the number of shelter beds and drop-in service hours available. "Thanks to the generosity of the Calamus Foundation, we will be able to offer LGBT young people a reprieve from the streets through a supportive, safe, and nurturing environment."

LGBT youth are all too often ignored and pushed to the margins of society, says Louis Bradbury, board president of the Calamus Foundation, but their plight has reached a crisis level. "By providing this Challenge Grant, we hope to increase awareness of the issues and to encourage other members of the community and foundations to become involved."

The new 24-hour services center will be available seven days a week and will offer homeless LGBT youth support and vital services like crisis and suicide intervention, access to medical and mental health professionals, substance abuse counseling, and career and education counseling. It will also provide basics such as food, water, access to showers, laundry services, and new clothing. The Ali Forney Center is currently searching for a facility to house the new center, with a projected opening in late 2012.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.aliforneycenter.org.

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