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Bronxcenter hero
• Jun 5, 2024

The phrase as one door closes, another door opens literally happened in the Bronx 11 years ago when a community center focused on supporting the LGBTQ2+ population closed its doors.

Sean Coleman worked at the center that closed its doors. He knew his community still needed resources and was determined to provide those services. This passion to support his community is how Sean became the founder and CEO of Destination Tomorrow, a non-profit organization that started a grass roots agency, which then later created the Bronx LGBT Center.

This community center is a safe drop-in space and economic empowerment center which supports members of the LGBTQ2+ community and extends their services to all communities in need. Since its inception, TD Bank has worked closely with the organization to meet its mission.

As Pride Month kicks off this June, TD is taking time to celebrate our past, current and future support of the LGBTQ2+ community and its allies, as their journey towards a more inclusive future continues.

A strong alliance

Steven Garibell, Vice President of TD Bank’s Community Business Development Strategy, has been working with Destination Tomorrow since 2013. TD first created the affinity program in financial literacy which helps young people open their own bank account. For over a decade, TD has hosted financial empowerment seminars, participated in volunteer opportunities, supported Bronx Pride, and supported Destination Tomorrow with their banking services.

“While TD provided financial literacy for consumers and our clients, they also provided financial literacy on a larger scale in building the organization,” said Sean. “TD helped us with all the things they don't teach you when you're running a nonprofit.”

Last year, the center positively impacted over 22,000 members of the LGBTQ2+ community and provided numerous services such as opportunities to learn about economic empowerment, GED training, job readiness, life skills, counseling and case management, and HIV prevention, testing and counseling. They also offer a telehealth program and joining together with Montefiore Food Pantry, they are also able provide food to those in need.

A community in need

The LGBTQ2+ community has historically been underserved, said Steve. They may not have a family unit or the ability to go to college. Others may have been forced to live in major cities because those were the most accepting areas and the ones that had services. In the past, individuals from the Bronx had to go to different boroughs to get needed resources. That can be difficult and time-consuming, which is why it's so critical to bring services right to the community.

Working with Sean and the team has made it easy to find the people who need that support.

“We are really putting blood, sweat, and tears into our work because we recognize what it feels like to be homeless, formerly incarcerated or newly diagnosed as HIV positive,” said Sean. “We want to provide the kind of environment we would've wanted when we were going through those situations. Anybody that needs the support, especially with our housing program and the food pantry, anybody that needs our services can come in and access them.”

Developing new relationships

Aside from being the right thing to do, TD is creating a new customer base by reflecting the diverse communities they serve.

“The LGBTQ2+ community is an intersection of every other community out there,” said Steve. “There are women, men, trans individuals, people with disabilities, veterans, and people of every nationality. One of the things we all have in common is that culturally, being in the LGBTQ2+ community is still tough, and we fight acceptance with our first community - our culture. We have a lot to learn about how we can be allies to each other.”

Being connected to different communities is also expanding the diversity of their employees.

“As we look at Generation Z and the younger millennial generation compared to others, there's a higher percentage of individuals identifying as part of the LGBTQ2+ community,” said Steve. “That gives us a place where we need to have thought leadership because our employee pool is changing. And our overall employee experience is going to be different because of the number of individuals in those communities.”

Continued growth

To meet the needs of the community, Destination Tomorrow is expanding to open community centers outside of New York and opened a community center in Atlanta in 2022 and one in Washington DC this past May. Destination Tomorrow has also opened two migrant shelters, one in Chinatown with 90 units and one in Long Island City with 125 units.

TD has made it incredibly easy to grow, explained Sean. “If there's any advice, guidance or funding available, I can lean on TD to either help me get access to it, write a letter of support or sponsor us somehow.” Instead of just writing a check that might cover the bills for a few months, Steve and TD have been heavily involved in every part of the journey.

Sean wants smaller organizations to know that working with TD made their growth possible.

“Steve is so invested in Destination Tomorrow,” said Sean. “I hope he understands he's a large part of the reason we’ve become this successful.” Sean encourages other non-profits to find companies that can provide similar resources and sponsors within companies to champion their work.

“Find yourself a ‘Steve.’ Don't take mine but find a ‘Steve’ who believes in your mission," Sean said.

Want to learn more about Diversity & Inclusion?
Pride Month: A New Jersey Small Business that Helps LGBTQ2+ Media to Thrive
Pride Month: Finding Your True Self in All Seasons of Life
The Battle to Save Friend's Tavern – A Second Home for the Latinx LGBTQ+ Community in Queens

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