SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Dozens will experience the feeling of being homeless in efforts to raise money and awareness for at risk and homeless LGBTQ youth this weekend.
Whispering Angels of Saratoga Springs, a non-profit established earlier this year, will host a sleep-out in the backyard of a Saratoga Springs residence where more than 40 people are committed to sleeping outside, each raising funds to benefit organizations like CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services in Clifton Park.
“Any kind of funding that goes into support on-the-street services to identify youth or in homeless situations or at high-risk situations can only benefit these kids because then you get professionals on the street, working with the youth directly, doing case management, finding housing solutions, finding alternative ways to connect them back to the community for positive support,” said associative executive director Andy Gilpin.
About 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ, which serves as the initial focus of Whispering Angels.
“Having something specifically tailored towards of the issues faced by LGBTQ youth is really important,” Gilpin said.
“A lot of these kids couch surf. They may not use the homeless shelters that are there,” said Whispering Angels vice president Melanie Glennon. “They actually send social workers into the woods to help them and give them what they need and provide the services they do and they definitely have a need for more funding.”
In 2016, CAPTAIN’s street outreach program, where social workers literally go to the streets to seek at risk and homeless youth, connected with nearly 3000 youth, most being seen several times, throughout the Capital Region. CAPTAIN helped 68, ages 13-21, off the street.
In 2015, CAPTAIN’s street outreach program, connected with 4600 youth, most being seen several times. CAPTAIN helped 54, ages 13-21, off the street.
This year’s numbers aren’t in yet, but Gilpin expects an increase because of a grant that allowed more staff hiring for the outreach program.
CAPTAIN also houses 13-to-17 year-old children in a youth-shelter program.
In 2016, 108 children came to the shelter, three of which identified as transgender.
In 2015, 109 children came to the shelter, eight of which identified as transgender.
A lesbian couple from Gloversville used to be homeless. They will speak at the event Saturday night.
“It’s really attributed to CAPTAIN and their program,” Glennon said. “I think that’s a really good example of what this is trying to do, and we want to be able to have more stories like that, and that’s our goal. The more stories we can bring to light… I think that’s part of our [mission]. It’s not just giving money, but raising awareness to something I don’t think people know a lot about.”
For more information, log on to whisperingangels.us.