This LGBTQ shelter manager is always available
Wendy Kaplan is the manager of Trinity Place Shelter, which houses up to 10 young people at a time – mostly transgender men and women of color – and orients them towards permanent housing, as well as career or educational goals. they settle down. . The shelter, an independent nonprofit, was originally a pilot project of Manhattan’s Trinity Lutheran Church and still occupies its basement on the Upper West Side. It allows residents to stay for up to a year and a half and welcomes people over 21, a typical age limit for many youth shelters.
A social worker, Ms Kaplan described her job as “the opposite of a 9 to 5” since the shelter’s hours of operation are at night and she does at least some work seven days a week. Not that she Complains. “These are my people,” she said of the locals. “It’s my heart.”
Ms. Kaplan, 51, and Taso Manis, 57, a former chef, co-parent their daughter, Micah, 7, with whom they both live, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
FAMILY TIME Now that Micah is at school, I consider Sunday my day with her. I’m the one who’s the most active and outdoors with her. Taso has health complications and takes medication that makes him feel bad most of the time, so he takes care of a lot of parenting at home.
DEMOGRAPHY I’ve lived in our rent-stabilized apartment since the 1990s. I first moved here thinking Brooklyn was where the lesbians hang out. Now the neighborhood is central for children. I live across from a children’s park. We are right next to the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park.
THE CIRCUIT We just bought Micah a bike and she’s so excited to hang out with it. We went to this park called Stroud two and a half blocks away. There’s a trail she can cycle to while I’m walking. It is also my exercise.
CAKES, DADDY Sometimes on the way back we will stop at one of the little Caribbean take-out restaurants near our house. Micah loves Caribbean patties – she always takes the chicken curry. Or we come home and Taso makes what we call “papa noodles”, which is basically any type of noodle in chicken broth.
FUN WITH BOXES When we receive people, they have to cross the bedroom to get to the living room and to get to the kitchen. It’s very New York. We’re lucky he’s big. Right now it’s filled with boxes. We’ve gotten a lot of gifts from Micah, but what she really loves are the boxes she decorates for her stuffed animals.
SHELTER In the afternoon we often go to the refuge. Micah has been coming with me since she was little. A resident taught her yoga. This is also where she learned video games.
GROCERY RUN We have a car, so we drive, and sometimes I do a Costco run along the way. I get all the basics: chicken, eggs, burgers, pasta, granola bars. People can also make requests. I try to buy residents what they ask for; it’s a way to make them feel seen.
SHARING COOKING SKILLS Residents cook themselves. Some of them don’t know how to cook when they arrive, so I buy a cup of noodles and some quick and easy things they can do. Others were their family’s cooks and passed on their skills or simply shared what they cooked. It’s always touching to see that.
ACTIVITIES Sometimes groups of volunteers come on Sundays to paint, organize donations or help in the kitchen. I show people around and Micah spends time on the computer. I place her at a table in the middle of the room.
GOURMET DINNER We stay about three hours, it is the ideal duration. Micah is always happy to dine there. It was there that she discovered ramen and sugary cereals. We don’t have Frosted Flakes at home. For her, it’s a treat.
bedtime Then it’s a race to get home, get sorted and settled in for the next day of school. Micah usually falls asleep in the car. By the time I get her up the stairs – we’re on the 4th floor of a walk-up – it’s at least 7:30 p.m. and I’m feeling this stress of trying to get her to bed before 9 p.m.
FUN AND FUN TIME In bed, we read a book. The Dog Man series is the favorite. Cartoons are so creative and fun, and they make her laugh. And it helped her learn to read. She’s so engaged that she’s trying words. There’s a lot of “Eek! Ack!” It’s a silly, fun moment with lots of laughs.
ON GUARD A social worker spends the night at the shelter. Sometimes we check in. Normally we would have a supervisor to do this, but I had a hard time hiring someone. So I sleep with my phone on and next to me. If there is an emergency – which is rare – I have to be 100% available, and I am.