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Lions Roar : March 2014
ERCHED TWELVE STORIES ABOVE the clothiers and bustle that are native to its West 36th Street address, the Reciprocity Foundation has been quietly making a positive impact on the lives of homeless youth in New York City for ten years now. Its programs, strongly attuned to the needs of youth of color and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, are largely the work of the RF’s cofounders, Taz Tagore and Adam Bucko. They’re two dear friends who discov- ered a shared passion to help those in need and to meet those needs through unconventional, even spiritual, means. Taz met me in the Reciprocity offices, which feature a meditation room, a massage chair, and a fully functioning vegetarian kitchen, all respectfully, fruitfully shared by staff and kids alike. She explained why what makes Reciprocity different is what makes it work. — ROD MEADE SPERRY Show Up Exactly As You Are PORTRAITCOURTESYOFTAZTAGORE How is it that you came to work with homeless youth? I was a teenager living in Toronto with my family, which had fled East Africa and bounced around Europe, trying to find a country that would have us. When they were allowed to come to Canada, there was still that sense of psychological homelessness. WhoamIandHowdoIfitinarequestionsthatIgrewupnot having answers to. I used to skip school and head downtown to meet artists and designers and people who were trying to answer those questions in profound ways. On one of those days, I was looking for a stu- dent art show and opened the wrong door. It was a shelter. At first I was horrified—it was really very institutional. The walls were this awful color; it was noisy, it was chaotic. You didn’t feel safe at all. My first impulse was, “I need to get out of here.” But one of the kids bummed a cigarette from me, and I just hung Q&ATAZTAGORE of the Reciprocity Foundation P PHOTOBYBARTEKRAINSKI Homeless youth at the Reciprocity Foundation, Taz Tagore says, “figure out that they’re each other’s greatest allies. They start to turn toward each other.” SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2014 19