Back in the 2005-06 school year, I volunteered at a place called The Door, an organization that has the mission to empower young people to reach their potential by providing comprehensive youth development services in a diverse and caring environment. I worked in the guidance office helping students get through the college admissions process. It was amazing to work with these students who were doing everything they could to make a bright future for themselves. Over the past two years I’ve wanted to get back to this kind of volunteering.
I’ve started the process of becoming a volunteer for the Ali Forney Center. AFC is committed to providing homeless LGBTQ youth with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. I found out about AFC when Will and I attended the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus Holiday concert. I was moved hearing about the services they provide to these kids who’ve been turned out of their homes because they came out. I checked out their website and before last year ended I contacted the director of community resources.
I went in for an orientation meeting last week and was, once again, moved beyond words hearing the stories of what the center deals with on a daily basis. AFC has 30 emergency shelter beds (and that number is growing) that are full every night along with another 20 beds of transitional housing, which are for clients who are continuing their education, maintaining employment and preparing to live independently. There’s also a day center that sees hundreds of kids each day, many of whom are on the waiting list to get into the emergency housing.
Yesterday I went back for a one-on-one meeting with the community resources director and was officially “adopted” into the organization’s family. As we discussed the possibilities, the idea of becoming a life coach was put out there. It would have me essentially in the role of a big brother. Next week I go back to the center for an orientation for that program and if we all decide I should go forward with it I’ll do a few weeks of training.
I’m excited about the possibilities here and am looking forward to doing what I can to make the world better.