Center On: From Youth Participant to Health Educator

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Center on Halsted provided Blaire Matthews the resources he needed as an LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, and now, 10 years later, he is a testament to the relevant impact of the Center’s programs. Blaire is a Health Educator and the first Youth Program and Youth Leadership Academy participant to join the staff at Center on Halsted. Blaire shares, “I am now able to pay forward the help I received. I am educating our community so together we go in the direction of hope and inspiration.”

Blaire’s outlook on life was not always this way as an LGBTQ youth …

At the time I walked through the doors at Center on Halsted in 2007, I had nowhere to go and no one to depend on. The Center helped me utilize programs and services, and I was able to acquire secure housing and a stable job. Building connections with the Center’s staff and new friends was the turning point for me.” Blaire reminds us, “The experiences I had with the Youth Program is a primary reason I do my work here as a Health Educator. I appreciate everything that was offered to me.”

What is your goal as a Health Educator?
“I think it is important to educate our community in order to break down the walls of stigma and oppression related to HIV/AIDS. It is important to me that I help individuals utilize resources they didn’t have access to before. I know from experience, every person has a right to know and feel they are important, and that someone cares about them, even when they feel like they are alone. You are not alone and I care, we care. Call us, text us, walk in. We are here to support you.”

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Center on Halsted is the Midwest’s largest community center dedicated to advancing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Movement.

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