MLK Day of Service: Supporting LGBT Youth With Hetrick-Martin Institute
January 8, 2014 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by the staff of Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI).
In the days leading up to MLK Day of Service on January 20, HRC and its partners, including Hetrick-Martin Institute, are working to increase national attention about LGBT youth homelessness through service activities in over 15 cities.
Stay tuned to the HRC Blog throughout January as our members, supporters, and allies share their stories about why they are participating in MLK Day of Service and the work that we are doing together.
Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is proud to partner with the Human Rights Campaign on January 16 as part of MLK Day of Service in a joint effort to engage community members in understanding the needs and experiences of LGBTQ homeless and marginally-housed youth in New York City.
Thanks to the generosity of community members, it also is an opportunity for us to get socks, underwear, toothbrushes, soap, razors, deodorant and the other necessities the area’s homeless LGBTQ youth need to stay healthy. Those who come to HMI experience wrap-around support from the moment they walk through our doors. Our goal is to treat each youth as unique individuals, to help them to create their own long-term plans and to support them in making those plans a reality.
Youth homelessness is an epidemic in NYC with staggering numbers: 40% of the estimated 3,800 youth who are homeless on any night in NYC identify as LGBTQ, and for many of them, HMI is a primary place of support; 20% of youth who come to HMI indicate that they are street homeless and identify food as a primary need when they first enter our afternoon programming. Each day, HMI staff and volunteers provide LGBTQ youth with a hot meal through our nightly dinner program, a shower, clean clothes, a place to check their email, talk to a counselor, gain job skills through paid internships, draw or paint in our open art studio, learn to vogue in the Kiki Lounge, earn their GED, and perhaps, most importantly, be respected and valued for exactly who they are.
Although there are thousands of youth who are homeless within the city, there are only 250 youth shelter beds. Everyday our dedicated team of counselors and youth workers support youth in navigating wait lists and calling to check on bed availability. Unfortunately, the result is that each night, we send youth out onto the streets to sleep in parks and the subway. Although we can’t always provide those youth with a safe bed, our outreach workers can provide them with essential supplies so they can be as comfortable as possible during the night until they rejoin us the next day.
For those of us at HMI, working to end the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness is more than statistics: it's truly about the youth who walk through our doors every day, meeting them where they are at and helping them to move towards the life they dream of.
This January 16, please join HRC and HMI in the fight against LGBT youth homelessness. To join this event in New York, please visit www.hrc.org/MLKNY.
And to find an MLK Day of Service event near you,visit http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/martin-luther-king-jr-day-of-service