It was hard not to get choked up reading about the legacy that Golden Girls actress, Bea Arthur, left to homeless youth in NYC. In fact, it was her generous end-of-life gift that allowed for the Ali Forney Center, a transitional housing program, to even keep its doors open when they were on the brink of closure and had nowhere to turn for financial help. The Center serves youth that have been kicked out of homes or abused because they came out to their families as being gay, lesbian or transgender. In need of a safe place to live and heal, the Center provides housing and social support…today serving over 1,000 youth in need each year.

It’s not hard to imagine what their lives could be like without this crucial institution. The Ali Forney Center is literally saving lives. What is hard to imagine is that families would disown children because of who they are. It is important to remember that youth in our society can become homeless for many reasons and that it is our duty as a society to make sure they have places to turn where they can feel accepted and wanted. Bea Arthur understood the situation and made a commitment to give herself to this cause, raising funds and bequeathing money in her will.

At Casa Valentina, we work each and every day to provide safe, affordable housing for former foster care and homeless youth. Many of our residents proudly identify as LGBT, and we are humbled to be that safe space for them during such a crucial time in their lives. We know full well how important systems of support are when youth are faced with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. We are grateful to our Casa Valentina champions for supporting our work throughout the years, and welcoming the many exciting changes and growth that is sure to come our way in 2018!