TFC Takes Pride in Our Inclusive Community

Gay St 7.2016On the night of Saturday  June 11th, I was with friends celebrating Brooklyn Pride. Sunday morning I learned that there had been  a mass shooting in Orlando. It wasn’t until Monday that I was able to process what was happening. An LGBTQIA nightclub was attacked by one person with an assault rifle at the same time I had been  at an LGBTQIA event. The underlying implications of this event became very real to me. “It could have been the party I was attending if I were visiting Orlando, or if the shooter lived in New York City.” I realized that I wasn’t the only person to come to this feeling of being unsafe when friends began to state they were not going to New York City pride events because of the looming unknown.

Orlando victims 7.2016Back at work that week I talked to  my colleagues  about the fear I was feeling and I was encouraged to think of my clients that have experienced trauma and the effect this incident may be having on them. So, I checked in with my clients who have identified the LGBTQIA community as one they belonged to, and I heard story after story of times that living out loud made them feel unsafe as well as about times that it felt empowering. I encouraged my clients to have compassion for themselves in the coming weeks, and only do and read what felt good. And I decided to practice what I preached.

It was especially important that I go to the NYC Pride March this year. The March originated as a protest forty-six years ago, demanding that people could safely be themselves. It was a place where community gathered and offered comfort, understanding and empowerment. And although it has shifted greatly since its origination, this year it reconnected to that. Float after float paid homage and held vigils for our community members that lost their lives in Orlando. There were moments of silence full of shared sadness and shared hope.

Child in rainbow flag 7.2016Here at TFC we share experiences with clients every day and use the space that we have to encourage a sense of calm, peace and safety. I am excited to continue to offer our space to build a safe and caring community to all people by beginning a monthly dinner series for our clients and members of our community that identify as LGBTQIA. We welcome LGBTQIA individuals and families to join us in resisting hate with joy and compassion. The safety I felt at the parade came from being completely myself and having people not just tolerate it, but celebrate it. And if I can offer a little bit of that feeling to our clients I will always choose to do so.  If you are a current TFC client and are interested in participating in the dinner series, please contact me at fstaime@thefamilycenter.org.

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Me at the 2016 NYC Pride March

-Florie St. Aime, LMSW
Social Worker for TFC’s Family Support & Counseling Program


Two Words

LWI client appreciation note 7.2016Clients come to the Legal Wellness Institute (LWI) during some of the most challenging periods in their lives. When they arrive at our office, they are struggling with illness, loss and the uncertainty of legal proceedings. Although it is the last thing any of us would expect, LWI clients always find a way to say thank you for our work.

Yesterday, our legal services coordinator, Jonathan Riedel and one of our legal interns, Ellen Degnan, received a noteworthy thank you. It was from a client with whom they had been working with on an administrative agency dispute. After weeks of diligent effort, they secured a favorable decision without the client having to go to a hearing. As you can see, the client was delighted with the outcome.

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Ellen and Jonathan with their sweet thank you from a grateful LWI client.

Ellen said, “Receiving this gift filled me with joy because it offered a glimpse of our client’s joy, her relief, even days after we celebrated the good news together. There is no better feeling.”

LWI is thankful for the opportunity to do work that matters and frequently, for the gratitude of our clients. Of course, we never ask for a thank you, but those two words are always nice to hear.

To each and every one of our grateful clients, we have two simple words, “You’re welcome.”

The Best is Yet to Come

There have been seven birthdays, a few hundred Metrocard swipes, thousands of texts, one motorcycle accident (no injuries), two camping trips, and lately dozens of conversations about politics and socioeconomics. We’ve hit a lot of milestones together: Eddie’s two graduations, his 18th birthday, and most recently my wedding.

John and Eddie at John's wedding 6.2016

John and Eddie at John’s recent wedding

Having my little brother Eddie give a thumbs up from the back of the church calmed my nerves and put a smile on my face. After calling him my brother for many years, I now consider him a true and permanent member of my family.

The Buddy Program opened up both of our worlds to an incredible mixture of memorable experiences—mostly good, some challenging, but all of them meaningful. We’ve stood by each other through tough transitions and incredible achievements, and I know the best is yet to come.