On December 2, a number of Whispering Angels of Saratoga Springs board members and volunteers endured a frigid December night sleeping outside in an effort to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Just as importantly, they raised over double the fundraising target from sponsors to support local non-profit organizations that provide services to these vulnerable youth.
LGBTQ youth account for 40 percent of our nation’s homeless children and young adolescents. Thrown out of their homes when they reveal their sexual orientation or true gender, LGBTQ youth suffer wrenching emotional trauma and the cruel physical realities of homelessness, including sexual predation and trafficking. Many are driven to prostitution and drug addiction.
Whispering Angels of Saratoga Springs exists to raise awareness and funds to support underserved and at-risk members who are central to our efforts.
The Whispering Angels Sleep Out event began with a kick-off dinner for Sleepers, sponsors and friends. Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepson, out of town that evening, called in from New York City to praise the event, noting that Saratoga Springs and the NYS Capital Region are deeply concerned about the homelessness that plagues many of our neighbors. Mayor Yepson detailed the efforts Saratoga Springs has undertaken to serve homeless men and women of all ages, and thanked WASS and other local organizations for providing crucial on-the-ground help. Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and Tara Gaston, Saratoga Town Supervisor-Elect also supported the event in-person and both spoke reinforcing Joanne’s messages.
Also in attendance were Samantha Annas, Street Outreach Manager and Brianna Phillips, Street Outreach Case Manager of C.A.P.T.A.I.N., a local non-profit that provides shelter, meals, and other services to our area’s homeless youth, and one of several local organizations that have received WASS grants. They explained C.A.P.T.A.I.N.’s mission and programming, and introduced two young women who had been in C.A.P.T.A.I.N.’s care. These young women spoke of lives spent in and out of shelters and foster homes, kicked out of their own homes because of their sexual orientation. With C.A.P.T.A.I.N.’s help they were able to find jobs and reunite with their families.
WASS is tremendously grateful to the volunteers and sponsors who made this first-annual sleep-out a success. A very special thanks goes to Pam Perry & Karla Austen who so generously donated their home, and several tents, to the effort.