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DC group offers lifesaving services for LGBTQ community

The Capital Pride Festival is more than a party--it's a way to help support LGBTQ organizations, like Casa Ruby

WASHINGTON - Thousands of people came out for D.C.’s Capital Pride Festival this past weekend. But the celebration was more than a parade, brunch and party. Donations were gathered from participants to help organizations geared toward supporting the LGBTQ community.

One of those organizations is Casa Ruby—the only bilingual multicultural shelter for LGBTQ people of color.

Selena Cruz is a smart, brave, young transgender woman. She’ been homeless and in the sex trade 6 years now, just as long as Casa Ruby has been around. “If people, myself included, didn’t have a place to go to like this there would be no safer option,” she said.

The 24 year old just got out of jail and sat down with WUSA9’s Delia Gonçalves for a candid and emotional interview. “I got really, really drunk and I met a guy,” she explained hesitantly, “By the time I got to my hotel I don’t remember anything after that. I woke up and my clothes were off and I was in pain so that’s what happened to me today (early Monday morning) so I called the police. He (the john) took my wallet, my money, and my ID. I’m pissed, shocked that it happened but I try to look at it like at least I’m not dead.”

“I hope one day this city gives value to people like Selena because that is not a city any of us want to live in,” said Casa Ruby founder and director Ruby Corado. Corado wanted to open a shelter to help women like her, like Selena.

After 6 years the organization has grown, opening its doors to LGBTQ people from all over the world and they just moved into their 3rd shelter: 14,000 square feet, 50 beds, donations are pouring in but the work of saving lives has just begun. “To me a success story is when someone comes in who wants to commit suicide or check out and be seen one last time and by the time they leave they say I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said, “Casa Ruby is like an emergency room and our work continues to focus on people in crisis.”

Delia thanked Selena for being so courageous in telling her painful experience of sexual assault because she will help a lot of people. She said she now needs to leave the sex trade. When asked what people can do to help her she hesitated, feeling broken after being rejected by her parents and choosing the wrong friends, she finally said, “I feel like I need support.”

RELATED: The Capital Pride festival was more than just a party

The organization just celebrated six years and moved into a third location, which houses 50 beds.

Casa Ruby provides services including housing, mental health, AIDS/HIV medical services, job training, crime victims counseling and more.

RELATED: A choice to stop hiding: Coming out in different generations

If you’d like to donate or volunteer, please visit their website http://casaruby.org/

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