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On 7th Street, LGBT Youth Find New Alternatives

AlternativeSpringBreak-05Jim Hohl A group of university students on an alternative spring break, volunteering with New Alternatives, with some of the organization’s LGBT homeless youth.

Robert Smith, 24, describes his childhood as magical. Growing up in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mr. Smith had everything a child could ever ask for — European vacations, the latest gadgets and even a hefty trust fund.

“I was a platinum-spooned, spoiled rotten trust fund baby,” said Mr. Smith with a grin. “Anything that someone could possible want, I had.”

But when Mr. Smith turned 19, that all changed. After coming out to his family, his grandmother cut him off financially, removing him from her will because she would no longer support his lifestyle. After spending several years moving around the south, Mr. Smith, who had just been kicked out of his older brother’s apartment, booked a flight and headed to New York.

“After paying for the flight and my hostel stay, I only had $55 in my pocket,” said Mr. Smith. “When I couldn’t afford the hostel anymore, I went to the Street Works Project and stayed in their emergency beds for about a week. From there, I went to Sylvia’s Place for three weeks before heading to Trinity Place Shelter for a year, where I attended the Back to Work Program and got my life together.”

Mr. Smith is now the executive assistant to the chief operating officer at a computer analyst company, and it’s a title he says with pride. But there’s another organization that he credits for his success — New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth.
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