I still tell folks how lucky I was to have HMI as a resource.
In 1992, I was houseless and 18 years old. Prior, I struggled in high school, being outed by bullies and a lack of support from anyone. I didn’t see other students get that treatment, but I’m sure it existed. The rules in school were dances had to be attended as a “couple”, and the couple had to be opposite genders.
I will forever love ballroom. When I was a teenager, I basically lived at HMI. I found my first Kiki lounge there. I walked “face”. I found community. I found family. Hetrick-Martin saved my life.
Venus Cuffs (She/They)
HMI cares about you even after you leave
It’s not just the guidance, the counseling, the resources that make the difference. It’s the connections made with people that genuinely care about you, that has been the difference between HMI and any other nonprofit in New York. At HMI they don’t just feed you, clothe you, and give you opportunities to make income, they care about you after you leave. That’s the difference, this is home.
HMI helped me find a place to live
I am often asked what life was like at Hetrick-Martin, and I say, ‘Picture the most supportive and caring place, throw in the most unique and wholly selfless people, with the most courageous kids.’ [Hetrick-Martin] helped me find a place to live; they helped me find a better way to live.
HMI helps youth meet their full potential
I’ve had the privilege to experience first-hand the exceptional professionalism and commitment of HMI’s staff. They help each young person meet their full potential as well as the incredible strength, courage and resilience of the youth that come through HMI’s doors each day.
HMI created a family structure for me
HMI created a family structure for me and my friends to be able to express ourselves regardless of background.
HMI helped me during quarantine
HMI provided me with the means to purchase things I really needed during quarantine. I also participated in BHAD online dance challenges and videos.
HMI is my safe haven.
HMI has helped me throughout these times by still having staff to communicate with. I miss interacting with the youth, dancing, and also doing my art within the space. It’s my safe haven and I can’t wait to get back to it soon!