I have had the pleasure of knowing Sam Handrick since I was in Middle School. We used to attend private school together and were in theater productions together throughout our childhood. As years went by and life took its course, Sam and I lost touch but I always kept up with him through social media. Through pictures, videos and Facebook posts I got to see a glimpse of the relationship he had with Jacob Snipes. And even though I never personally met Jake, I feel like I know him through the way Sam has so eloquently told his story.

Jake passed away on April 22, 2020. He was only 24 years old when epilepsy took his young life. But in those 24 years he lived such a vibrant life. Jake was a graduate of the University of PA, gaining a master’s degree in computer engineering. After he graduated, he moved to California, where he got a job at Sony as a software engineer. Not only was he a computer wiz, but he also did music in his free time and was such a talented singer and pianist.

Sam and Jake met a few weeks after Sam's 24th birthday in 2019. In one short year they became best friends, lovers and soulmates all wrapped into one. "He was the reason my life felt so bright, why I adored getting up each morning, why I fell in love with every moment: because he was in them," Sam stated in a Facebook Post.

Jake would have turned 25 on December 12. In his honor Sam, Jacob’s friends and family have decided to set up a donation fundraiser for the Attic Youth Center. This organization is Philadelphia’s lone youth center for LGBTQ+ people of all ages to seek support and develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe community. Sam wanted to do something special to honor Jake's birthday.

"One of the first things Jake and I ever talked about, one of the first things that made me feel close to him, was talking about the difficulties we'd had growing up because of our sexuality," Sam said. "And Jake faced far more than I ever did. He had to endure a lot more for simply trying to be who he was than I ever want any human being to have to face. And to know someone I love so much had to go through all of it... it's agonizing."

That is why this fundraiser was created. This is Jake's loved ones' effort to make this cruel and unfair world a bit more of a place where the things Jake went through for being gay doesn't happen to anyone else. The Attic Youth Center is a safe space for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. They not only provide support, but resources and education as well to all who needs it.

"During quarantine, kids have found themselves more alone, and for kids living in households where being LGBTQ+ is not accepted, it's been particularly scary. The Attic is still trying to help where it can," Sam stated.

Jake Snipes Memory Fundraiser runs through December 12th, and if you feel led to donate, please do so.