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Ali Forney Center Holds Nov. 11 Benefit to Rebuild Drop-In Center

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Nov 6, 2012

Following severe damage to its youth drop-in center due to Hurricane Sandy, the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest service and advocacy organization for homeless LGBT youth, is holding a fundraising benefit on Nov. 11 at Industry, the popular Hell's Kitchen bar, featuring hosts Ally Sheedy and Mike Ruiz. Organizers hope the event will quickly raise funds to protect these at-risk youth.

"I am enormously grateful for the immense outpouring of support we have seen for the AFC over the past several days -- not just here in New York, but from all over the country," said AFC Executive Director Carl Siciliano. "Our youth, who in many cases have been cruelly rejected by their own families for being LGBTQ, need our help now more than ever, and we hope that this event will allow the day when we can restore these vital services to come sooner rather than later."

According to Siciliano, a storm surge from the Hudson River filled the AFC Drop-In Center on West 22nd Street with four feet of water, destroying computers, phones, furniture and supplies. The center was a home base for youth to receive food, water and shelter, plus medical care, counseling and treatment. Before the storm, it was serving 10,000 meals a year to runaway and homeless LGBT youth at risk for prostitution, violence, suicide and HIV infection.

"Because we're going to be operating in a cramped space, we don't have room to store items, and we will have to put volunteers on hiatus," Siciliano told EDGE. "So for the time being please donate money. We're facing a tremendous amount of expense now having our site furniture, computer, medical supplies phones destroyed, and we need to get into a new space as quiclky as possible. We need to raise as much money as possible to protect these kids."

To that end, 100 percent of event proceeds from ticket sales, bar service and raffle items will benefit AFC. In addition, AFC Board Member Bill Shea and his husband, Frank Selvaggi, have offered to make a matching donation of up to $50,000 of proceeds raised.

"Sandy upended the lives of many New Yorkers, but not nearly as much as the youth of the Ali Forney Center, who now have nowhere to turn for basic services such as shelter and food. We are proud to help our community come together in support of its most vulnerable youth," said Shea and Selvaggi in a joint statement.

DJ Vito Fun will be providing music at the event, with cabaret performances by Marti Gould Cummings, Joseph Keckler and Brett Gleason. Co-chairs for the event are AFC Board Member and New York City Council candidate Corey Johnson, and AFC volunteer and OASIS Co-Chair Michael Green.

"The Ali Forney Center suffered a devastating loss, like so many others, from Hurricane Sandy," Johnson told EDGE. "The LGBT community is rallying behind AFC to help protect our most vulernable -- homeless LGBT youth who need a safe space. We hope as many people as possible will help chip in to support AFC and their life changing work."

The AFC Drop-In Center benefit will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Industry Bar, 355 W. 52nd St. Tickets are $20. For info, visit

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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