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February 20, 2009


GLASS (Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services) is an organization that most people outside of California have never heard of. It provides vital services to GLBT youth who have already been marginalized, ignored and frequently abused.

Many of these children were homeless, alone and rejected by society just because of who they are. Most chose to live on the streets rather than continue to be attacked, raped and/or beaten while supposedly "under the care of" mainstream institutions.

Teresa (Terry) DeCrescenzo was a social worker for the Los Angeles County Probation Department. By 1984 she had seen one too many kids mistreated just because they acted differently, looked different or said they were different. So she decided to do something about it. She gathered her resolve, mortgaged her home, appealed to friends, neighbors and colleagues and founded the nation’s first ever long-term residential treatment program specifically structured for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender youth.

In the 25 years since, GLASS has grown to six Residential Group Homes in Los Angeles, two in Long Beach, and one in Oakland with the capacity to provide housing for 80 boys and girls, ages twelve to seventeen.

The group also provides programs that range from a Family Preservation Program, Mobile Health Outreach Project (MoHOP), Stonewall Day Rehabilitation, Outpatient Clinic and Skills Center to a Mentoring Project and a Transitional Housing facility.

Over those 25 years GLASS has saved countless children from violent death or suicide. It has also shown itself to be a shining example of what can be done when just one person decides they've had enough and actually goes out and does something about it.

Now, because of the faltering economy's effect of diminished donations and dramatically reduced funding from the cash strapped California government (which accounted for 90% of their budget), GLASS has been force to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The group's Board of Directors choose to file a Chapter 7 because they didn't believe the organization would be able to secure a loan or obtain enough donations at this time. But, according the The Advocate, Terry, who is still the groups Executive Director, disagrees. She said, “The staff is very upset. They may physically go to court and petition the court to reject the Chapter 7 and give us a Chapter 11.” That would allow the group to continue operating while seeking additional funds through donations or loans.

Terry said, “We need two [million] to thrive. One [million] to survive.”

I'm definitely on Terry's side! If you would like to know how you can help, their contact page is at: http://glassla.org/wp/?page_id=42. You can either give them a call directly or fill out the comment form.