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NYer Of The Week: Jacob Tobia Raising Money To Rebuild Community Center Damaged By Sandy

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TWC News: NYer Of The Week: Jacob Tobia Raising Money To Rebuild Community Center Damaged By Sandy
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This weekend, one New Yorker will be taking to the streets to raise money for a community center damaged by the storm. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, Jacob Tobia, 21, watched as a beacon of his community was overcome by the storm surge.

"I saw that the Ali Forney Center had been flooded," Tobia says. "I was like, 'Oh my God, these are so critical. These services are so important. If you were a homeless LGBT youth that needed help, that is where you would go."

The Ali Forney Center, two blocks from the Hudson River in Chelsea, has been a lifeline to homeless LGBT youth. When Hurricane Sandy hit, that lifeline took a hit as four feet of water flooded the space.

"For a lot of kids who'd been really brutally thrown away from their homes, put out by their parents for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, it was the first place where they felt welcomed and affirmed," said Carl Siciliano, the founder of the Ali Forney Center.

Jacob felt compelled to help. He decided to raise money to help rebuild the center by running in heels.

"I don't know what else I could do. I'm not a famous musician. I can't have a benefit concert," he said. "So I'll do what I can and I'll take my shoes that are in my closet and I will put them on and I will run across that bridge."

His mile in heels has already raised thousands of dollars for the center, which will open in a new space next week.

"People like Jacob came forward to do all kinds of inventive things to try to help us overcome what had happened to us," Siciliano said. "It's the difference between being out in the cold and having a place. It's the difference between being hungry and alone in the streets and having a warm meal and being surrounded with people who care about you."

So, for using his heels to kick up some assistance for the LGBT community, Jacob Tobia is our New Yorker of the Week.

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