Bea Arthur gave big to homeless LGBTQ youth in her will. This is what came of it.

Back in 2009, Carl Siciliano wasn't sure if his nonprofit was going to survive the throes of the Great Recession.

The Ali Forney Center, a group committed to helping homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, was on the brink of eviction. Between paying rent, payroll, and the critical services it provided to its youth, Siciliano, director of the center, had doubts Ali Forney could run much longer.

Carl Siciliano. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.


Then he got a phone call from the estate of Bea Arthur.

Arthur ("Maude," "The Golden Girls") had recently passed away. And Ali Forney was in her will.

It wasn't necessarily shocking news — the late actor had been a supporter of the organization, giving donations to the group and using her one-woman show, "Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends," to raise funds for the nonprofit's work.

But Ali Forney, Siciliano learned, was at the top of her will's list of charities.

Bea Arthur (right) attends the Emmys in 1987. Photo by Alan Light/Flickr.

Arthur left $300,000 to The Ali Forney Center.

In times as tough as they'd been, the donation was the buoy keeping Ali Forney afloat. "I honestly don’t know how we would have made it through the recession without that extraordinary gift," Siciliano later blogged about the experience. "Bea Arthur truly meant it when she said she would do anything to help our kids."

Siciliano stands with Skye Adrian, who has benefited from Ali Forney's services. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Eight years after her death, the folks at Ali Forney can still remember how crucial Arthur's generosity was when times were tough. They made sure her legacy of helping homeless LGBTQ youth will live on for decades to come.

In December 2017, Ali Forney opened its doors to its latest facility for homeless LGBTQ youth: the Bea Arthur Residence.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Nestled in Manhattan's Lower East Side, the 18-bed residence will save and change lives, acting as a safe and nurturing environment for youth in transitional housing.

Image by Erin Law, courtesy of the Ali Forney Center.

It doesn't look like your average shelter either — because it's not.

Young people who stay at the Bea Arthur Residence enter a 24-month program aimed at giving them the tools they need to succeed on their own. They deserve every bit of help they can get too; most homeless LGBTQ youth were either kicked out by unaccepting parents or ran away from hostile home environments.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Homophobia and transphobia at home leaves far too many queer youth high and dry, and it shows in the numbers. While some estimates suggest about 7% of all youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. A disproportionate number of them are transgender and people of color too.

With warm beds, comfy sofas, and a kitchen to prepare meals, the residence provides an ideal space for young people to transition into stable, independent housing.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

They benefit from a range of programs provided through Ali Forney too, like job readiness and education, health screenings, and free legal services.

These programs are vital, and Arthur understood it.

"These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender," Arthur once said.

"This organization really is saving lives."

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

"I would do anything in my power to protect children who are discarded by their parents for being LGBT," Arthur had said.

It's a promise Arthur is still keeping long after she said her goodbyes.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less