DC Concerned Providers Coalition (DCCP), an organization that seeks to decrease infection rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among D.C.-area young men of color who have sex with men (YMSM) and young transgender women of color, honored The DC Center, the city's LGBT community center, with its 2011-2012 Excellence Award at DCCP's annual luncheon Aug. 8.
The award was given to The DC Center for its work supporting LGBT youth, including its Youth Working Group, which deals with a variety of issues from homelessness to bullying to HIV prevention, and its new ''Life Mentors Program,'' an initiative being established to pair at-risk LGBT youth with adult mentors.
''I'm thrilled that we got recognized for our work with LGBT youth, but there's still much work left to do,'' said David Mariner, director of The DC Center.
Specifically, Mariner pointed to the center's campaign to increase the number of available beds for homeless LGBT youth. There are only eight beds at the Wanda Alston House, a program of Transgender Health Empowerment and the only ''safe space'' designated specifically for LGBT youth in the District.
Mariner has been circulating a petition to increase the number of beds available to LGBT youth and hopes to submit it to the D.C. City Council once he collects 1,000 signatures. Altogether, the effort has collected 641 signatures as of Aug. 10.
Those interested in signing The DC Center's petition for beds for homeless youth should contact David Mariner at The DC Center at (202) 682-2245.