June 2018 Individual of the Month
“There is a freedom in just being yourself”
Lilith Ivory is a 25-year-old transgender and is one of the first residents of Unique People Services (UPS) Lynn's Place. Ms. Ivory is a prime example of what Lynn's Place was created to accomplish: a vehicle for people to have housing that is safe, appropriately supported and affordable. She embodies what people can achieve after homelessness. That is why she was selected as our June Individual of the Month.
Originally from California, Ms. Ivory, "has always had a love affair with New York City.”
“When I was younger, I would dream of moving to New York,” she said. “I had such a fascination with the vibrancy of the city and couldn't wait until I was old enough to move to the Big Apple.”
When Ms. Ivory finally moved to NYC, she came armed with determination and dreams of becoming an actress – specifically in a Tyler Perry movie. However, that dream was short-lived. Diagnosed with mental health challenges that had gone untreated, she became homeless.
Homelessness left the always-shy Lilith with an overwhelming and discombobulating feeling of lack of self-worth.
“It was like a never-ending psychological dilemma that I had to contend with on a 24-7 basis,” she shared. “I was homeless on and off for six years. Each time I was able to survive because I identified with once homeless movie producer and actor Tyler Perry. When I became homeless, he was an inspiration to me and a beacon of hope, because he continued to pursue his dreams, despite his challenges.”
“Homelessness is a debilitating feeling, yet he didn't let it stop him,” she said. “Although things were hard I wasn't going to let it stop me! His success empowered me to be able to one day no longer to say I was homeless.”
After years of homelessness, Lilith was introduced to Project Renewal. While there she learned of Lynn's Place. She applied in September 2017 and was approved in February 2018.
“My life shifted after that,” she said. “The first day I walked through the doors of Lynn's Place, it hit me that I truly had a place to call my own. I was walking into a new beginning, into a new life.”
Moving to Lynn's Place has also made her love affair with NYC stronger.
“At first I was scared and unsure about the process, but the staff at Lynn's Place made it a smooth everyone was extremely helpful,” she said.
As a resident of Lynn's Place, Ms. Ivory, with the help of UPS staff, has developed a set of personal goals, one of which is to obtain an office job that allows her to connect with people.
“The services UPS provides are available to me every day, but most importantly, they help to end homelessness for people just like me and guide us on a path of success,” she said.
Finally, when asked about the impact of having a home at Lynn's Place, Ms. Ivory smiles and says, “At Lynn's Place I'm free to be me!”
“I was hiding who I was and once struggled with my identity,” she said. “I was searching for a core sense of myself. Moving to Lynn's Place has changed all of that because now I dance a lot. I turn on my favorite song, thrust my hands up in joy and dance!”
“I dance because I have no worries about who is looking, no worries about a curfew or what will happen at night,” she said. “I dance with unfiltered joy because I no longer worry about what the next day will hold!”
"I love having the freedom and space to be myself and heal,” she said. “I'm so blessed to be in Lynn's Place."
Please join the UPS team in congratulating Ms. Lilith Ivory as our Individual of the Month!