By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Attic Youth Center has helped more than 15,000 LGBTQ youth cope with their sexuality. And this weekend– they’re celebrating a major milestone.
“The young people drove this place and built this place in many ways,” says Carrie Jacobs, Ph.D, executive director of The Attic.
Jacobs says she started the organization 20 years ago as an eight-week support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth. Since then, it’s grown into a holistic center occupying a four-story walkup near 16th and Spruce that overflows with life and lessons.
“We do a lot of academic support, wellness support, we do arts and culture,” says Jacobs, “we want these young people to grow and become independent people who contribute to the world and feel really good about who they are.”
The center offers counseling, life skills classes, free meals and other support programming that serves anywhere from 45 to 60 young people each day.
“Where would I be without The Attic? Wow, I don’t even like to think about it,” says Robert Johnson, 18.
The Northeast High School senior says he first came to The Attic two years ago.
“When I first came here I was in the closet and I wasn’t out to my family members that I was living with at the time,” he says, “The Attic helped me in many ways to tell my family I want to be who I want to be.”
Johnson says he’s happy, on the honor roll and is looking forward to the future.
“I’m going to try out for ‘The Voice,’” says Johnson, “Yes I can sing. I’m in the Philadelphia All City Choir.”
The Attic will hold its’ 20th anniversary gala, “Unlocking the Future,” at the Crystal Tea Room Saturday. To buy tickets or to donate, go to AtticYouthCenter.org.