We combined our passion for computer science and our passion for social rights to develop an iOS app titled “Arms Reach”. We spent over 175 hours coding the app with Xcode and an Apple Developer program and 25 hours trying to promote it. 40% of all homeless youth are part of the LGBT community and 1/3 of the LGBT community has either attempted or completed suicide. So, the app’s purpose is to use the user’s location to locate local LGBT friendly safe places. There is also a section dedicated to mental health issues which plague the LGBT community, from both medical professionals and people who have experienced similar issues. There are tabs for anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, fear of coming out, and more. This app is important because to be tossed to the streets by the very house and disowned by the very people who have supposedly loved and cherished you is an inconceivable reality to many of us whose family support is their emotional backbone; the unparalleled emotional and mental ramifications witnessed for the rest of their lifetime. In desperate financial conditions, many go into prostitution in order to provide food for themselves. These kids won’t turn in their parents to the authorities for neglect or abandonment because they cling onto the hope that their parents will love and accept them again. Sadly, most of the American public is unaware of this national crisis so we made Arms Reach in order to shine a light on this disregarded pandemic.
What inspired you?
Both us being born into a very conservative and Catholic family of immigrants, our struggles with our sexualities were not met with immediate approval and rejoice, to say the least. To our parents, it was an unfamiliar situation and for humans, what we don’t understand scares us. Some nights we would lay at night, our eyes fixed on the ceiling wondering if we would now be treated as subordinate to our siblings who did not share our sexualities. Our challenge could have been way worse, however, and we wanted to find a way to improve the challenges that other people faced in our community. Although we never reached the point of homelessness, some nights we felt the ripples of unceasing waves of shame and ostracism. Not all members of our community are blessed with the same fate, however. When we saw the statistics describing the horrors in our community, we decided to take action. Arms Reach isn’t the most complex application, nor is it the most elegantly designed, as we have very limited and rudimentary programming knowledge coming from the absence of a college degree, but when our Instagram started gaining thousands of followers and we started getting messages from people across the world claiming that they’ve never “needed an app more than Arms Reach”, the efforts were worthwhile. To know that you’re making a difference in someone’s life even from 4,000 miles away is an indescribable feeling.