New Leaf center in SF to close over budget cuts

August 26, 2010 6:59:51 PM PDT
New Leaf is a San Francisco-based organization that has provided an array of services to the LGBTQ community for 35 years. In October it will close after becoming a casualty of budget cuts.

Like many non-profits, New Leaf has found it financially impossible to continue operating. Between this year and 2009, their funding was cut by $400,000 and donations are hard to come by as well.

"We are competing with many, many organizations and those big donors in San Francisco, there aren't as many as one may think. They too are watching their money," New Leaf interim director Thom Lynch said.

Finally, the organization is locked into an expensive lease. There are 25 employees left and hundreds of volunteers will now have to go elsewhere.

"Right now today I am thinking about volunteering for another AIDS organization," New Leaf employee Yvette Deandreis said.

New Leaf began in 1975 just before the American Psychological Association affirmed that homosexuality was not a mental illness.

"We were considered deviant, we were considered outside the mainstream and we were one of the first programs in the world that looked at mental health in an affirming way," Lynch said.

New Leaf has also provided support for elderly gay men and women, especially now that researchers are trying to discover why aids patients are aging prematurely.

"Isolation is one of the biggest problems with this community and one of the goals of the program was to continue to decrease isolation and allow people to feel part of the mainstream," said.

At least three other agencies have agreed to provide services to clients of New Leaf. Some say it will be a challenge to redirect all 1,300 clients.

One of those helping will be the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

"I think there will be a challenge for anybody because when you have a new provider a new therapist again you making another leap," from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation said.

Employees of New leaf can apply for work at one of the three agencies and the center will close on October 15.


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