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Help ensure GLBT youth continue to be helped through LIGALY's broad range of outreach, education, advocacy, & social support
Adam Kaplan (1974-2009) never did anything small.
After spending his teenage years struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, he channeled his own painful journey toward self-acceptance into helping others.
Adam was 18 years old when he met David Kilmnick, a master's student counseling children for a not-for-profit youth agency in New York. Adam was drawn to Dave's vision to change his hometown's cultural climate and create Long Island 's first gay and lesbian youth services organization.
As part of his studies in social work, Kilmick routinely held workshops at local high schools. One day, Dave asked Adam to accompany him to a workshop. Once there, he suddenly introduced him to the class – much to Adam's surprise – as the guest speaker. Adam was thrust before the class with no experience talking in front of groups, but his presentation at Lynbrook High School was unforgettable. Over the next four years, Adam led more than 200 similar workshops – at times, in front of full auditoriums.
Adam was inspired to help others learn from his own pain by watching his mother, Lin, who survived a terrible house fire as a young girl. Doctors told her family she would not survive, but she did. As a boy, Adam would accompany his Mom to local schools to teach young children about fire safety.
In 1992, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) was officially formed. That year, Adam was part of a group of six who raised funds to begin building the organization. Over the next three years, Adam helped organize approximately 30 fundraising events and helped authored proposals for private and governmental grants.
In 1995, Adam spearheaded the opening of the LIGALY Community Services Center (www.ligaly.com/history.ht ml). Adam oversaw the center's opening, recruiting three dozen people to help do everything from preparing volunteer policy manuals to laying the kitchen floor.
On September 14, 1995, the community center held a grand opening ceremony attended by television and newspaper reporters, community activists and local politicians. After the center's opening, Adam became the first youth member of LIGALY's Board of Directors. Within a year, he was elected Board Secretary.
Adam got involved in LIGALY to spare other gay and lesbian kids the pain and confusion he experienced while coming to terms with his own sexual orientation. By the time he left for law school at Boston University in 1997, he had helped launch a speaker's bureau, a successful annual conference, peer-run support groups, and a hotline for troubled kids.
Please consider honoring Adam's memory by giving to the organization that he helped build.