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LifeWorks Mentoring to Become Program of L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Date:6/15/2009

Together the Two Organizations Will Serve a Wide Range of LGBT Youth, From those on the Streets to those in School

LOS ANGELES, June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Uniting two leading organizations serving LGBT youth, Los Angeles-based LifeWorks Mentoring will become a program of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, announced LifeWorks Executive Director and Co-Founder Michael Ferrera, with Center Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean, at LifeWorks' annual Life Out Loud awards benefit on Saturday, June 13.

Ferrera, who developed LifeWorks into the country's most successful mentoring organization for LGBT youth, will join the Center's Children, Youth & Family Services department on July 1 and will continue to lead LifeWorks with his existing team and with the active support of the LifeWorks board of directors, which will become an advisory council of the program.

"LifeWorks has grown at a rapid pace and the demand for our services, from youth between the ages of 14 and 24 all over Los Angeles, has never been greater," says Ferrera. "As a program of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, we'll be in a much stronger position to meet the demand. We'll be a perfect complement to the Center's existing services for LGBT youth. And fortunately, the financial health of LifeWorks has never been stronger -- both of our most recent major events exceeded revenue projections."

To serve the estimated 3,000-5,000 homeless LGBT youth in Los Angeles, the Center operates the Jeff Griffith Youth Center in Hollywood and a 30-bed residence, which offers overnight stays for youth in immediate crisis and an 18-month home for youth to develop the skills, resources and confidence to live on their own through a structured Transitional Living Program. The Griffith Youth Center is open seven days a week and offers three meals a day, clothing, showers, counseling, a GED preparation program and much more.

"Sadly the schools, churches and other institutions that should nurture all young people are often unsupportive or hostile to LGBT youth," says Center CEO Lorri L Jean. "That's why LifeWorks is so important and why it's the perfect complement to the Center's services. LGBT youth who are leading successful, healthy and happy lives with support and guidance from trained mentors are far less likely to end up homeless, addicted to drugs and at-risk of HIV infection like many of the youth we serve. Michael has done an amazing job building and growing the organization and he and his team are fantastic additions to the Center staff."

Ferrera, formerly the clinical director and then deputy director of public policy with Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS), founded LifeWorks Mentoring in 2002 with a former director of youth services at the Center, Garrison Smith. Over coffee at the Center's Village at Ed Gould Plaza, which will now house LifeWorks, the two decided to develop a mentor model of care that matches LGBT youth with specially trained adult mentors. LifeWorks -- the organization based on that model -- now serves more than 400 youth annually through its 12-month mentoring program, social groups, workshops and activities.

"On behalf of LifeWorks Board Vice President Walter Hubert and myself, I would like to say that this is an exciting development in the evolution of LifeWorks," says LifeWorks board president Chip Sullivan. "We never would have had this opportunity if it wasn't for the unconditional support of our families and friends, an incredibly dedicated board, and the unwavering commitment of Michael and his truly gifted staff."

LifeWorks is supported by a number of generous individuals and philanthropic corporations that include: Target, AT&T, Silver Birches, Dwight Stuart Youth Foundation, The David Geffen Foundation, Overture Films and Paramount Pictures.

Event photos are available at www.lagaycenter.org/lifeoutloud2009.

About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

Since 1971 the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. Visit us on the Web at: www.lagaycenter.org.


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SOURCE L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
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