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Support and Lead LGBT Youth

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The LOFT in White Plains provides a safe space to support the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. At the heart of the group’s mission is advocacy and activism to improve the lives of LGBT individuals.

“We’ve always been very volunteer-focused,” says Scott Havelka, director of Programs and Services, who notes that there are currently 70 active volunteers who run the facility’s peer-support groups, catalog and organize the most expansive library of LGBT books and movies in the lower Hudson Valley and work at the organization’s thrift shop. The group is seeking volunteers in Peekskill and Mount Vernon, to help offer new programs in those communities.

Volunteers who help run the facility’s support groups are at the heart of The LOFT’s advocacy efforts. Peer groups address issues like the growing need to support the rights of transgender people, youth homelessness, and other needs within the LGBT community. 

Volunteer Cynthia Long was motivated by the organization’s commitment to LGBT activism in creating lasting social change. “We need our allies to help get anything passed, so we were able to tell people personal stories to show them why this issue was so important,” she says regarding the effort to pass the marriage equality law in New York State. 

“I want it to be easier for the next generation of young people. I don’t want them to go through what I went through.”

Get Started: Visit www.loftgaycenter.org/volunteer to fill out an application. There are no prerequisites; time commitment varies; some training may be required.

Similar Ops: Advocacy opportunities can be found at Center Lane, a program of Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) in White Plains, or the Westchester subchapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in Yorktown Heights.


Volunteer Spotlight

Cynthia Long,  61, Greenburgh

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For Cynthia Long, volunteering at The LOFT Community Services Center in White Plains is not just a way to give back to her community – it’s part of a lifelong commitment to advocacy for LGBT rights.

“There are lots of different pieces that we try to fit together as a community, to build on the notion that we are no longer second-class citizens,” says the 61-year-old Greenburgh resident. 

Long says the growing attention to issues within the transgender community are a prime example of how The LOFT can make a huge difference to people who need support. The White Plains facility hosts young and mature transgender support groups on alternating weeks.

“The rest of the LGBT community needs to learn more about the transgender community, and they need our support,” says Long. “Each group has needs that can only be solved by legislation. We worked very hard to get the anti-bullying law passed, and, now, even junior-high schools have created anti-bullying programs.”

Long describes The LOFT as her “main social outlet” now that she is retired and  says she’s also taken advantage of many training services as a volunteer, including computer tutoring.

“Volunteering there increases my social activism and allows me to stay in touch with allies and friends,” she says. “So it’s very important to support it.”


 

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