Update on The Attic Youth Center
Since 1993, The Attic Youth Center has been at the forefront of youth services, leading the way in providing effective resources, opportunity and safe space for LGBTQ+ youth. We remain steadfast in our commitment to those we serve.
COVID-19 has changed all of our lives, including LGBTQ youth and their needs. Under Shawnese Givens’ leadership as Interim Executive Director we transitioned many of our services to a fully virtual format while providing in-person support in ways to minimize COVID risk. These include:
- Converting our full continuum of programming into a virtual format
- Delivering our individual and family counseling services through HIPAA-compliant Telehealth visits, while also meeting the increasing demand for counseling during the pandemic.
- Offering affirming space and technology for youth to do their schoolwork, connect with others, look for job opportunities, and access other supports that have moved to virtual space.
- Offering personal services, such as haircuts, food distribution, personal hygiene and basic PPE supplies to our youth.
In the spirit of transparency, we would like to share the resolution of matters pertaining to community concerns raised in 2019. In response to these concerns, the Attic board commissioned two outside law firms to investigate. Conducted independently, the investigations included extensive interviews with board members, staff and youth, concluding that The Attic, its Executive Director and staff, took quick action in response to the allegations, and complied with all legal mandates and requirements. Additionally, the reports highlighted ways we could both be better and do better.
With our focus to nurture an inclusive, equitable and open environment, we’ve implemented new policies and best practices, including:
- Updating our pay structure to ensure that The Attic can remain competitive, attracting and retaining skilled and talented staff.
- Hiring a human resources consultant to update and ensure compliance with all policies and procedures.
- Utilizing an outside consultant to provide Equal Employment Opportunity training to all Attic personnel, including board and staff.
- Limiting access to our facility for non-program participants.
Our goal is to strengthen The Attic, support healthy growth and ensure a safe and equitable environment as we continue to serve the community in the age of COVID and beyond.
We are currently working with an executive search firm, and within the months ahead, we will be introducing a new Executive Director. Our board is committed to hiring an individual who can lead The Attic, not only through the end of a pandemic, but into a new age of growth.
We’re also pleased that Dr. Carrie Jacobs, the Attic’s founder and respected pioneer in LGBT youth services, has continued to support the institution, leveraging her decades of institutional knowledge and expertise as she helps us transition to the future. We are deeply grateful to Carrie for her continued commitment to The Attic, our youth and to excellence.
Our new Executive Director will have the opportunity to work with the support of our board, Shawnese, and Carrie. As we look to the future, we thank Shawnese for graciously stepping in as the Interim ED in a tumultuous, challenging time.
In closing, on behalf of all of us at The Attic, I’d like to thank you, our extended Attic family. Your continued belief in us and in our mission has made it possible for us to continue during these difficult times. The work of The Attic in improving, supporting, and even saving lives, is simply not possible without the support of you, the greater community.
We are excited to continue the life-changing work of The Attic, and there is no limit to what we can achieve, together.
Yours in service,
Jasper Liem, LCSW
The Attic Youth Center