We always knew that Golden Girls star Bea Arthur was wonderful but at the ground breaking ceremony of a new homeless shelter for LGBTI youth in New York this month, the world found out just how generous she really was.

Each year the Ali Forney Centre has around 1400 LGBT youths who have been rejected by their families walk through their doors seeking emergency shelter with the service having to turn some people away because of the long waiting lists. But now, because of Arthur’s kind generosity, the centre has this week began work on its brand new Bea Arthur Residence – an 18 bed shelter for homeless LGBT youths in Manhatten.

Speaking at the launch, the centre’s director Carl Siciliano told guests of Bea Arthur’s long association with the Ali Forney Centre. He explained that ten years ago when the shelter could only take in a few kids at a time, Arthur made a special trip to New York to perform a one woman show which raised more than $40,000 for the service on top of a generous personal donation.

But Siciliano explained that it was a few years later in 2009 during the worst of the Global Financial Crisis that Arthur gave her greatest gift. The centre was struggling to stay afloat and was behind with its rent and bills. On his way to work one morning Siciliano says he was told by the landlord that they were about to hand the centre an eviction notice. At this stage the former Benedictine monk didn’t know what else to do except pray.

“I prayed to all my favourite saints, and everyone I could think of in heaven that cared about me or our kids. I included Bea in those prayers, knowing how good she had been to us,”Siciliano told the Huffington Post.

Whatever Siciliano said in his prayers must have worked because when he arrived at work that day he took a call from a close friend who told him that Arthur had prioritised the service in her will and had bequeathed $300,000 to ensure the centre’s ongoing service.

Bea Arthur – thank you for being a friend!

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