The Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest services and advocacy organization dedicated to LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth, saw its drop-in center in Chelsea completely destroyed by floodwaters from the Hudson River during Hurricane Sandy. In a statement posted on the group’s website, Executive Director Carl Siciliano said, after inspecting the damage, that “our worst fears were realized.”
The organization’s computer system, phones, refrigerator, food and supplies were ruined by four feet of water inside the office where vulnerable kids came to receive food, medical care, substance abuse and mental health services, andâ€•most importantlyâ€•support from understanding adults who listened to their stories.
“This facility provided care to the most vulnerable youth served by AFC, those stranded out on the streets awaiting shelter. Having our drop-in center destroyed means it is likely that we are among the hardest-hit of all LGBTQ organizations in the city. While our new 24-hour drop-in center will open as planned in a different location, it will not be ready for full service for several months,” Siciliano said in a statement.
The organization has been overwhelmed with donation offers, but its makeshift location at the LGBT Community Center is too cramped to accommodate bundles of supplies or a large staff of volunteers. Instead, AFC is seeking monetary donations to help it set up a temporary drop-in center while their new permanent home, arranged prior to the hurricane, is readied for a move-in date next year.
As one ray of hope, Big Gay Ice Cream’s store on East 7th Street is donating half of today’s sales to the Ali Forney Center to help them rebuild. If you’d like to donate, visit www.aliforneycenter.org/hurricanesandy.