In 2015, New Alternatives served 51 Sunday dinners, with a total of 2,259 individual meals served. Following Sunday dinners, we held a weekly Life Skills group addressing topics that included childhood trauma, substance use, police violence, HIV, and Hepatitis C. In addition to our existing clients, we welcomed a total of 130 new homeless LGBT youth aged 24 and under.
We continued our twice-weekly Case Management program in 2015, providing 1,114 sessions of case management to 238 unique LGBT homeless youth. Client needs that were addressed through individual case management ranged from finding shelter to applying to colleges and universities. We also helped youth obtain their identifying documents and apply for benefits, complete permanent housing applications, access mental health services, and solve a wide variety of other problems.
We led several recurring, interactive groups that youth could participate in this year, including an Anger Management Group, a weekly peer support group for HIV+ youth, Creative Writing workshops; and a Drama/Acting group. Our program supporting homeless college students continued to provide practical and emotional support to students at colleges including Brandeis, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, and various Community Colleges. Our support includes finding donors to pay for textbooks and class supplies, as well as providing counseling to help youth deal with the often-rocky transition from shelter life to college life.
New programming this year was somewhat limited by lack of funds; however we were able to send a group of youth to the annual Arts in the Woods summer camp for LGBT youth, take the clients on our annual apple-picking trip in upstate New York, and hold our popular annual Christmas Party. With volunteer and financial support from Criteo, Inc., the youth were able to go ice-skating and eat pizza at the Chelsea Piers. Our weekly HIV support group also expanded with increased attendance and the addition of a co-facilitator from ACT UP/NY. We were also excited to partner with Judson Memorial Church to provide twice-weekly access to their shower facilities for our street homeless clients. We are continuing to partner with Project Stay, a program of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, to provide onsite HIV/STD testing, as well as working closely with them to ensure that youth in need of follow-up care actually receive it. We are also continuing to partner with the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, who provides an on-site insurance navigator to help youth sign up for benefits during our case management clinics.
This year our “Angel” donors were busier than ever, responding to 77 emergency requests from LGBT homeless youth, including requests for household items for new apartments, medications for uninsured clients, and bus tickets for youth wishing to return home or go to live with relatives outside New York City.
In the coming year, we plan to introduce a computer-programming group for female-identified clients, led by Board member Rebecca Coleman, as well as making an increasing number of donated laptops available for use by clients waiting to be seen for case management. We are also actively seeking a volunteer yoga/meditation instructor to work with clients on stress reduction, and we are looking forward to the opening of St. John’s shelter for homeless adults over age 21, to which our clients will have priority access.