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A young boy has shown that no gift to charity is too small. The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center received an envelope Feb. 3 containing two letters and a check for $70. The first letter was from a seven-year-old boy named Malcolm and the check was his donation to the center. In his letter, Malcolm wrote that he did not “think it was fair that gay people were not treated equally.” The other letter was from Malcolm’s mother, explaining that Malcolm was given $140 by his grandmother to donate to charity and teach him the importance of improving the world around him.
“I was brought to tears,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. “Things like that don’t happen very often.”
Jean and Stevie St. John, communications manager for the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, contacted Malcolm’s mother to find out what inspired him to make the donation. Jean said they learned that Malcolm was in the car with his father where they were listening to a talk radio station that was having a discussion about discrimination against gay people. Malcolm asked his father what “gay” meant and his father carefully explained the term. Malcolm then asked why gay people were not treated equally, drawing another explanation from his father. When the two got home, Malcolm told his mother he wanted to donate the money to a charity that promoted the equal treatment of people.
“It shows you that people have to be taught to be bigoted and hateful,” Jean said. “This is just the innocence of a child at work and it makes me think the kids of today are not going to tolerate the type of discrimination that goes on today.”
Malcolm’s mother explained to Jean and St. John that half the money was to go to a local charity and the other half to a national charity. The other $70 went to the Human Rights Campaign. Malcolm’s family was not taking any requests for interviews, stating the child was shy and did not think his donation would be noticed.
But the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center did more than notice. They launched a campaign with a goal to raise $27,000 in Malcolm’s name, which would help provide food, shelter and social services for one year to a homeless LGBT youth enrolled in the center’s Transitional Living Program. Individuals who donate will have the option of having their name and a brief personalized message printed on a thank you card, which the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center will send to Malcolm when the goal is reached.
“Malcolm thought we wouldn’t notice his gift because it was so small,” Jean said. “But we wanted him to see that his donation would go on to help another youth who did not have the same supportive and caring parents or upbringing as Malcolm did.”
St. John said that the center’s Transitional Living Program offers homeless LGBT youth ages 18 to 24 a place to stay while they work toward independent living. The program has 30 beds in dorm-style rooms, 24 of which are for residents of the program and six that are used for emergency cases like a youth who was kicked out of their home or who is dealing with health or drug dependency issues.
“Hollywood is one of the most well-known places for homeless youth to go,” St. John said. “The center offers a wide array of services for LGBT homeless youth.”
Residents of the program participate for 18 months and can take advantage of many services offered by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, ranging from training to acquire a GED to learning how to cook and other basic life-skills training. There is also a clothing closet at the program where the youth can get clothing.
In addition, the center also has the Jeff Griffith Youth Center, which offers many of the same services. The youth center is available to youth who are 12 to 24 years old. It also has a closet where homeless youth can find suitable clothing, as well as GED training and health services.
Individuals interested in donating to the Malcolm campaign can do so by visitng www.lagaycenter.org-from.
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