Hurricane Sandy was, in many regards, an all-or-nothing event. The very lucky who were missed have lived life nearly uninterrupted. But those hit directly were hit hard. And one place dealt a strong blow was the Ali Forney Center's Chelsea Drop-in Center, fully flooded when the Hudson River - just a block away - jumped its banks.
"This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there," says AFC Executive Director Carl Siciliano. "This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically, a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger."
For those reasons, the Chelsea satellite facility is perhaps one of Ali Forney's most important resources, serving LGBT youth which represents as much as 40% of the homeless youth population.
But with a rush of floodwater, it's been put out of business. "Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers, refrigerator, food and supplies."
The storm was not kind. But luckily, many others have been. And through their generosity, you have several options to help get the Ali Forney Center's Drop-in facility back on its feet, in ways that will let you support a Trans sports pioneer, get your groove on, shop 'til you drop, stay caffeinated, and even deck your halls in the (charitable) process.
Chris Mosier's Manhattan Perimeter Run
Among them, Chris Mosier, triathlon coach for Empire Tri Club. Chris is a familiar name to Bilerico readers, and has great credentials in using sport to make good. He's been profiled in the New York Times, and was invited to the White House and Joe Biden's home as one of 150 next generation of LGBT leaders recognized by the administration during Gay Pride Month.
"As a trans triathlete, and someone who has experienced family rejection due to my identity, the Ali Forney cause hits home for me," says Chris. On December 1st, Chris will run the perimeter of Manhattan (32 miles), taking pledges in advance, and donating all collected money to the Ali Forney Center to help get the drop-in center back on its feet.
So far, Chris has no corporate sponsors, so he's looking for individual support. "This is a self-motivated fundraiser. I'll be running alone... unless some other goofball wants to join me for it! I'm simply doing it because I feel strongly about the work AFC does and I wish to help using my resources. I can run, and I can hopefully raise awareness of the great work AFC does for our community and for LGBT youth."
Donate to Chris' run here.
The Ali Forney Center has used Amazon in the past, to help young LGBT members prepare for job interviews with new clothes and other supplies. There is a new list up, and the basics it's asking for (boxer shorts and t-shirts) are a heartbreaking reminder of how basic, and dire, current need is.
Purchase an item from the Amazon Wishlist here.
Blue Bottle Coffee
On Monday, November 12th, Blue Bottle Coffee will be donating all revenue from their Blue Bottle NY retail locations to the Red Hook Initiative, Ali Forney Center and The Rockaway Youth Task Force.
Find blue bottle locations on their Facebook page here.
"Rich and I are grateful for the support NYC has given Blowoff," says organizer Bob Gould. So he, along with partner Rich Morel are giving back. They're donating a portion of their profits from tonight's NYC "Blowoff," the sweaty, furry traveling bear party to help Ali Forney.
More info, and advance ticket sales to Blowoff, here.
I've jumped in with a small effort myself, making my annual Custom Holiday Wreath Giveaway a benefit auction this year, with proceeds benefitting Ali Forney as well.
Find out more here.
Other organizations have already stepped up, although some fundraising deadlines have now passed. GLAAD, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was one coming to the AFC's aid, creating a text-to-donate number. That effort ended November 8th, but maybe Bilerico readers can give a little nudge to GLAAD to extend the deadline over on the GLAAD Facebook page.
New York City's LGBT Center ("The Center" as most LGBT New Yorkers know it) has offered The Ali Forney Center temporary use some of their space. "We hope to determine the viability of that soon," says Siciliano.
It's heartening to see such a groundswell of support for the Ali Forney Center, which often flies under the fundraising radar, and has been hit hard, even before Sandy, by city budget cuts and gaps in federal funding. But the storm was a devastating development. Says Siciliano, "It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many of these kids, our drop-in center provided their first encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community." He adds, "I thank all of you for your care and support in a most difficult time."
You can of course make donations directly to the Ali Forney Center here. But there is something special about supporting those going out of their way, personally, with their own unique and creative fundraising endeavors.
If you know of any additional efforts underway to assist the Ali Forney Center, please add links and resources in the comments section below.