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Welcome to the latest installment of Front and Center. In this edition you'll hear about the life-changing Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Program summer camp, as well as our recent event, Broadway Sings for Pride. You will also learn how the YES Program helped a teenager find a family and fulfill his lifelong dream of performing. Please enjoy reading these stories and more, and thank you for your support.
Center's YES Program Helps Youth Find a Family of Acceptance
On Monday, July 11, New Agenda, a youth dance group in the Center's Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Program, performed for the Center Families' Foster Care Project, dancing and speaking to the young people in the audience, many of whom grew up in foster care. After the group performed, one of the dancers, 17-year-old Trixy, gave a speech to the audience relating his experience in foster care. He said while growing up he felt alone, like he had nobody there for him. He felt he would never amount to anything or ever be wanted by anybody; he also thought his lifelong dream of performing would be unreachable because he believed that without the support of a family, he could never achieve his goals. One day, however, he came with a friend to the Center to attend a YES event, and soon became very involved in the program. He started attending meetings regularly and joined the dance group, New Agenda. Trixie said that being involved with the YES program taught him that he could build his own family, and surround himself with a supportive group of people. With the help and support of the YES program, he has been able to fulfill his dream of performing, and feels proud of himself for remaining committed to his goals. He has also recently been adopted.
Thanks to Raul Rivera, Youth Services Arts & Media Specialist
Center Hosts Broadway Sings for Pride Benefit Concert
On Monday, June 27, the Center hosted Broadway Sings for Pride, a benefit concert featuring some of Broadway's biggest stars. The night was hosted by the lively and enthusiastic Broadway performer Carly Jibson (Hairspray, Cry-Baby) and guests included Sonja Morgan (The Real Housewives of New York City), Reichen Lehmkuhl (The Amazing Race, The A-List: New York), Randy Jones (multi-platinum recording artist, founding member of Village People), Darius de Haas (Broadway's Kiss of the Spider Woman, Carousel), Marti Cummings (Broadway Speaks OUT) and Matt Martin (Real Housewives of Twitter). Over twenty Broadway stars performed, and the songs ranged from classic Broadway hits to modern original pop. The event sold out, leaving standing room only at the concert and raising nearly $3,000 to help support programs offered at the Center. Broadway Sings for Pride was a great way to end Manhattan Pride Week, and the Center would like to thank Neal from Neal B TV for his hard work in organizing the event.
Thanks to Yojani Hernandez, Cultural Programs Officer
Center CARE Recovery Responds to the Crystal Meth Epidemic in the LGBT Community
In order to meet the rising demand of people in our community seeking recovery from crystal meth addiction, Center CARE Recovery now offers three successful support groups each week. Beginning in May of 2008, Center CARE Recovery was the first intensive outpatient treatment program in New York to offer a crystal meth group specifically designed for the LGBT Community. That group started with two clients, but today the group is at or near capacity consistently, with 11 clients every week. The population of those seeking treatment for crystal meth use at Center CARE has gone from 5% in 2008 to almost 40% and to meet this increase, two additional crystal meth groups have been added to the weekly schedule. The three distinct groups currently offered are: Crystal Meth: The First 60 Days, a group addressing the needs of those in their first 60 days of abstinence, Crystal Meth Recovery Group, which focuses on physiological, social and emotional issues specific to crystal meth use, and Sex, Crystal Meth and Recovery, a group for clients who are seeking to achieve a healthy integration of sex and intimacy in the context of recovery from crystal meth. On Friday, July 15, Center Care Recovery held its sixth graduation ceremony for those who have overcome substance addictions. Of the 19 graduates, 14 are former crystal meth users. The Center is a resource for people in our community struggling with addiction and substance abuse. If you have a problem with crystal meth, please contact Center CARE Recovery and ask to speak with a counselor (646) 556-9300.
Thanks to Joe Disano, CASAC-T, Center CARE Counselor
YES Program Staff Prepare to Empower LGBTQ Young People at Youth Summer Camp
Center Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Program Staff have been preparing for the annual youth summer camp; 70 youth are slated to attend the gathering which takes place at Fairview Lake, New Jersey. It is a week-long residential camp designed to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people with the support, knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their own health and well-being. The process leading up to the camp, which will be held August 21-27 this year, starts 10 weeks prior to the beginning of camp. Twelve young people from the community have been chosen to be group leaders, and are being trained in counseling skills, group facilitation, queer history, HIV, and health, among many other topics, in order to lead a group of campers before, during, and after the camp. For young people interested in participating, they must participate in an orientation, where they are paired in particular groups based on age. They must then attend six group meetings before camp. The groups are an integral part of the camp, as they each have young people of similar ages who can support and learn from each other during the entire camp process. This week saw the beginning of the group meetings, and YES staff members have been busy getting both group leaders and potential campers ready for the week. Now over a decade old the Center's youth summer camp continues to mold young LGBT people into confident, empowered leaders.
Thanks to Nicole Avallone, LMSW, Director of Youth Services
Center's Project Link Helps Gay Client Find Recovery
"Danny," a young gay man with a history of crystal meth use was new to the city and struggling financially and with alcohol abuse when he came to the Center's Project Link Program at the Fort Greene Clinic in Brooklyn for help. The financial stress was causing him to drink more, and "Danny" admitted to having unprotected sex and getting in fights during blackouts, putting his health at serious risk. Project Link provides on-site Substance Abuse Treatment and Referral services at locations across New York City to individuals who lack resources, most being uninsured. The counselor "Danny" came to see recognized he was ready for a change. He referred "Danny" to Center CARE Recovery, adding him to a list of more than 600 patients who have received referral treatment from Project Link, an example of how the Center has broadened its reach into the community in an important and innovative way, helping people overcome obstacles in their lives and get back on their feet.
Thanks to Brian Belovitch , CASAC T., Project Link Counselor
Center Hosts Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host and Straight Ally Wendy Williams
Just days before the announcement that LGBT couples would be able to marry in New York State, national television personality Wendy Williams joined the Center for a conversation about the community's straight allies. She spoke about why she is such an outspoken ally to the community, gave career advice to youth, shared words of support to elders and expressed her disdain for intolerance and discrimination against the queer community. Her humor and well wishes were touching to all the members of the audience, many of whom announced that they would be getting married this summer. She is a trailblazing pioneer and an amazing woman, and the Center is proud to call her an ally.
Thanks to Yojani Hernandez, Cultural Programs Officer