Connecting Generations for Good

Grant Spotlight: the Los Angeles LGBT Center

October 20, 2016

LA LGBT Center

For almost 50 years, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has been a resource to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, providing services to and advocating for a diverse and growing group.

Now, they’re growing too. In 2019, they’ll open their newest campus in Hollywood—and The Eisner Foundation is proud to support their unique intergenerational approach.

“This new campus will not only provide critical services, but engage in a grand experiment of intergenerational living and support,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “We’ll provide so much more lifesaving work for two of our most vulnerable groups: youth and seniors.”

Indeed, these groups face the biggest challenges in the LGBT community. Young people face dangers both at school and home, with some being thrown out of their homes upon coming out or being discovered. For seniors, the dangers are isolation and poverty—they’re less likely to have children or grandchildren to rely on, and are more likely to be living alone. This new center will address the problems both groups face with permanent housing for seniors and transitional housing for youth.

It will also include several multi-purpose spaces for classes, workshops, and other activities, while freeing up space at one of their current facilities to expand health services. “People are really excited for this—youth and seniors both,” said Jean.

This isn’t the Center’s first foray into intergenerational programs. For 18 years, they’ve run a photography workshop where youth and seniors learn the basics of photography from a professional, then pair up and photograph what inspires them throughout the city with donated cameras. From the resulting photos, the workshop leader curates an exhibition in the Center’s space. The resulting relationships were so impressive to the Center that it’s spawned many other projects, including a formal mentoring program.

These friendships can help open new possibilities on several levels. Jean recalls one teen who was volunteering alongside a retired veteran at one of the Center’s events. The young man was interested in the military but thought it wasn’t possible for a gay person to join. The veteran shared his experience, and knowing that the Center was embarking on a new partnership with the VA, connected him to the program where he became friends with many other gay veterans.

To create more connections like this, the new campus will host a wide variety of intergenerational programming. Jean envisions programs like an oral history project where youth learn interviewing and production skills while discussing the lived history of the senior residents. There will also be a commercial kitchen on-site, where cooking classes could be held. “We have a building full of seniors who know how to cook and could take on a parental role for youth who are interested in culinary careers or simply had never learned to cook at home,” Jean said.

The Eisner Foundation is particularly excited about the one of the campus’ courtyard gardens, which will be named after the Eisner family. We look forward to watching intergenerational friendships develop and thrive in this space!

Learn more about the Los Angeles LGBT Center here.

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