It all started with $1

On September 10, 2020, Howard Brown Health and Broadway Youth Center (BYC) celebrated the construction of a new five-story permanent location for BYC at 1053 W. Irving Park Rd.

Robert Garofalo, MD, one of BYC’s co-founders, delivered remarks sharing the history of the BYC and recognizing the many colleagues who helped bring the project to life.

Remarks on the BYC Groundbreaking

Almost 20 years ago, Howard Brown entered into a two-year contractual lease agreement with Teen Living Programs for $1 to secure the 2nd floor space above the Chipotle on the corner of Belmont and Broadway.

Adding Lurie Children’s Hospital and The Night Ministry to total four partner agencies and that was the birth of the BYC. There was no money. No grant support. Little organizational buy-in. Few political allies. Just a bunch of talented, dedicated and hard-working people who thought outside the box, worked together, and refused to settle for less.

It is a distinct honor to be here today to represent the founders of the BYC. It would be wrong or disingenuous of me to say I am the founder, as the founders were a collective of the best people I have ever had the privilege of working with. Let me say their names:

  • Joe Hollendoner
  • Lara Brooks
  • Dave Myers
  • Betty Bogg
  • Barb Bolsen
  • Jessica Dubuar
  • Amy (Ascher) Herrick
  • Charles Long
  • Casey Schwartz
  • Staci Bush
  • Margaret (Anne) Sanders
  • Ebonii Warren-Watts
  • Tony Alvarado-Rivera
  • Wendell Ward
  • Gilberto Soberanis
  • Michelle Emerick

I stand up here representing each of you. And your dream. And your hard work. And your dedication.

The BYC was always about youth. Built by youth. Largely governed by youth. And for youth with safety, service, kindness and compassion at its core.

It didn’t matter if you were White, Black or Brown…

  • Or if you were a homeless young person seeking a meal or a safe space to simply be.
  • Or a young gay man seeking HIV testing and counseling services
  • Or a young transgender person seeking hormones or medical care
  • Or a young woman seeking family planning advice
  • Or a young person living with HIV who just needed someone to talk to

If you were a young person in need, the BYC — and the AMAZING people I mentioned above – were there for you; often night and day.

They were there to make sure a young person in need was safe, well-cared for, and well-taken care of.

It was a place that regardless of who you were or where you were from, when you walked through the front door (and back in the day climbed that long staircase) you mattered and you were important.

And while the location may have changed, the mission hasn’t. The services have broadened and improved. And the commitment to city’s most forgotten has deepened as the BYC has become ingrained in the fabric of what Howard Brown has become.

The BYC has also become ingrained in the fabric of how we train and support the next generation of health care providers to be caring and empathetic with youth and adolescent patients. In my role at Lurie Children’s, the partnership with Howard Brown and the BYC key to our ability to train the very best adolescent medicine health care providers as part of our fellowship training programs.

And so, here we are – almost 20 years later. At the precipice of an amazing new beginning and next chapter of the Broadway Youth Center.

I am proud to be here today to represent the founders. Each of them would be beaming with pride. For me personally there is a lot of healing in my presence here today.

I am proud to have been and to continue to be a part of the BYC.

Howard Brown has a lot to be proud of here.

The City of Chicago has a lot to be proud of here.

The youth who over the years were the fabric of the BYC and made all this possible have a lot to be proud of here. Today is the beginning of something amazing for all the youth in the future who will walk through those doors.

BYC is almost entirely funded through private support and we need your help today to provide basic services to vulnerable young people and youth experiencing homelessness. Support BYC with a generous donation.


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