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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Center announces broadened mission at gala
by Matt Simonette
2016-04-03

This article shared 12 times since Sun Apr 3, 2016
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Services and programming aimed at LGBT youth, transgender individuals and LGBT families will be a larger part of the mission of Center on Halsted in the years ahead, according to officials.

That was the central announcement at the Center's annual Human First gala, held this year at Geraghty Chicago, 2520 S. Hoyne Ave., April 2. About 675 guests attended the event.

In his opening remarks, the Center's CEO, Modesto Tico Valle, explained how these categories fit into the Center's recently revised mission.

"There is no doubt in my mind, that, in our community, our best years can be ahead of us," Valle said. "But we must not give up until every member of our community is secured and recognized as equal. We stand with other, hold each other for support, and lift each other up—only then will we move into the future that we've created together."

He cited the enormous number of murders of trans individuals across the country, and added, "From high rates of poverty, harassment and violence, to poor health, limited job opportunities and isolation from their larger communities, transgender people are among the most vulnerable communities in our country. We must stand together, and move into the future, where health and wellness, education, employment and housing are equal rights for all trans people."

Valle added that LGBT families are "part of the American fabric. Two million children are being raised by [LGBT] parents. Children of LGBT parents live in 96 percent of U.S. counties, and decades of research has shown that our children grow us as healthy and well-adjusted as their peers. The Center must educate and provide cultural competency training to a wide array of professionals and create stronger support services for LGBT families, particularly families of color, low-income families and families with transgender parents."

By filling these gaps, Valle noted, "One day our children will celebrate full equality. We must not give up."

Valle also said the city faces a crisis "as members of our community, especially our youth and our youth of color, are disposed of as 'trash.' Tonight, 2,000 homeless youth will sleep on the streets. … Lift them up and hold them, into a future of hope and stability."

Valle last year introduced a youth-centered housing initiative and he said that this year the Center was "fulfilling that promise. We will join forces with partners like Chicago House, Heartland Health Outreach and Teen Living to house our young people. We will lift them up and celebrate the whole person."

The Center's model for the program was created over the course of two years with input from city officials, youth providers, funders and youth themselves, Valle noted, adding, "The model will ensure resources, education, employment, recreation, food and nutrition, and intensive case management, all aimed to meet the individual needs of our youth."

Ultimately, the Center will share the results of the model with providers and officials "to change the system that has been broken and archaic," he said. "… We will move into the future as one family."

Valle promised that the Center would expand its "geographic reach beyond the walls of Halsted and Waveland. We will listen. We will learn. And we will act, to honor the voices of diversity, seeking inclusion."

Among recipients of the Center's Human First Awards were Lori Healey, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority; activist Denise Foy, who co-chairs the LGBT Community Fund at the Chicago Community Trust; and Michael McRaith, director of the Federal Insurance Office.

In his speech, McRaith echoed Valle's remarks about the hardships LGBT youth must endure. "Tonight in Chicago … 2,000 young people are without a safe place to sleep. About 800 of those—40 percent—are LGBTQ. As we move forward, and embrace economic fairness for all Americans, and as we work to protect our LGBTQ family from discrimination, we will do it together," McRaith said.

The Community Spirit Award was also presented to AT&T, while the program was emceed by LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5. Co-chairs were Bill Brandt and Manuela Hung, while honorary co-chairs were Patrick Sheahan and former state Sen. Carol Ronen.

Among the political officials in attendance were Ald. Tom Tunney; Ald. James Cappleman; state Rep. Kelly Cassidy; Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer; Chicago Department on Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega; Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl; Lake Forest Ald. Prue Beidler; Judge Nancy Katz; former Gov. Pat Quinn; congressional candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi; U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky; and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is running for U.S. Senate.


This article shared 12 times since Sun Apr 3, 2016
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