On December 7, present and past officers of New York City’s LGBT Community Center, elected officials, Center members, and others in the community gathered at the Center for its annual Holiday Party and also to mark the retirement of Robert Woodworth, its influential Director of Capital Projects and first-ever staff member—hired in 1983—after 32 years of devoted service.
As attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks, we heard a welcoming speech from Executive Director Glennda Testone, who thanked all those who have ensured that, for the past 32 years, the Center has been “a beacon of light and hope 365 days a year.” There was a proclamation on behalf of New York City Councilmember from Manhattan Corey Johnson and one from New York State Senator from Manhattan Brad Hoylman, on behalf of the Senate, which declared “December 7 Robert Woodworth appreciation day.” There was an address as well from New York State Assemblymember from lower Manhattan Deborah J. Glick. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assemblymember from the Upper West Side Daniel O’Donnell were also present, as was icon Edie Windsor, whose Supreme Court case led to the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for the favorable Marriage Equality ruling.
Glennda Testone returned to the podium to speak of the Center’s three new programs, addressing LGBT youth substance abuse, transsexual employment, and professional assistance for women by women. She disclosed that, when Robert Woodworth interviewed her for her position, he asked her, as a former Philosophy major, what her philosophy of life was and, put on the spot, she responded, “Kindness,” which she said that Robert embodied. Former Executive Director Richard Burns recalled Robert’s early work with Center, during the difficult early days of the AIDS Crisis. Glennda presented Robert with a mounted brick from the Center’s foundation.
Robert, who has, over the years, touched the lives of so many of us, left us with two numbers—94, the number of Center windows that still need replacement, and 6,311, the number of miles from New York City to Ulaanbaatar—and with the hope for progress for LGBT people in lands as distant as Mongolia.