Detroit — The Ruth Ellis Center is launching a major crowd-funding and awareness campaign, End the Chill: Where Homeless Youth Sleep this Winter, to bring aid this winter to Detroit's homeless lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, many of whom live in horrifically unsafe and unsecured conditions. The funds will ensure that the Ruth Ellis Center's Second Stories Drop-in Center is open additional days as a warming station for the youth.
"There are more than 800 homeless youth on the streets of Detroit daily, which comes as a surprise to many people because the youth work very hard to remain under the radar," said Laura Hughes, Ruth Ellis Center executive director. "We are using our strong relationships and the trust we have built with these youth to gain exclusive access to the spaces in which they stay, shed light on the horrible conditions in which they live, and raise money to provide the youth with more access to safe space at the Ruth Ellis Center."
The Ruth Ellis Center will release 10 captivating images with accompanying narratives every week from August 1 to September 20, to chronicle the spaces where homeless LGBTQ youth are living. The images will be released on the Ruth Ellis Center's Web site, and Facebook and Twitter pages, with a link to an Indiegogo fundraising page, www.indiegogo.com/EndTheChill, where the public can donate.
The Ruth Ellis Center's goal is to raise $20,000 by the night of its annual benefit, Voices, to be held September 20 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). Actress and comedian Wanda Sykes, who is making a special guest appearance at Voices, will announce the results of the End the Chill campaign at the event.
"It costs approximately $1,700 per day to operate the Second Stories Drop-in Center. If we reach our fundraising goal, we can keep the drop-in center open one more day per week throughout the winter months," said Hughes.
The Ruth Ellis Center's Second Stories Drop-in Center is currently open three days per week and offers youth resources such as full meals, gender identity support groups, on-site mental health therapy, laundry facility and clothing, a cyber center, and recreation.
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Ruth Ellis Center is the Midwest's only organization and one of four in the nation that is solely dedicated to serving homeless, at-risk and runaway youth identify as lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender or questioning. The Center's mission is to provide short-term and long-term safe space through:
Ruth's House — a full-time residential program that is a State of Michigan licensed Child Caring Institution.
Second Stories Drop-in Center — A facility that offers youth resources such as full meals, gender identity support groups, on-site mental health therapy, laundry facility and clothing, a cyber center, and recreation.
Street Outreach Program — a peer-driven model that uses harm reduction and community involvement to authentically connect with LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness
For more information visit ww.ruthelliscenter.org/or www.facebook.com/RuthEllisCenter.