Lost-n-found Youth cel­e­brates first an­niver­sary

GA Voice - - News -

To com­mem­o­rate the one-year an­niver­sary of Lost-n-Found Youth, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor plans to spend 48 hours on top of a box truck to raise aware­ness of the plight of LGBT home­less youth in At­lanta.

Rick West­brook, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Lost-n-Found Youth, plans to stay on top of the truck from the af­ter­noon of Nov.6 un­til Nov. 8. He will doc­u­ment his ex­pe­ri­ence through Face­book posts, Twit­ter up­dates and per­haps a live video stream to give a glimpse of what home­less youth ex­pe­ri­ence when forced to live on the streets.

The truck will be parked next to Brush­strokes in the Ans­ley Square shop­ping cen­ter. West­brook said he will climb aboard the truck one hour be­fore the polls close on Elec­tion Day. He will come down for a short time to at­tend a town hall meet­ing on Nov. 7. “I will be there rain or shine,” West­brook said. “Weather per­mit­ting I’ll sleep on the top of the truck, like the kids that sleep on the streets. If it rains I’ll sleep in the back of the truck, like the kids that sleep in squats or aban­doned build­ings. If the weather gets be­low freez­ing I’ll sleep in the truck, like the kids that sleep in their cars or any car they can find un­locked,” he added.

With ac­cess to the empty truck, West­brook said he and the other vol­un­teers of Lost-n-Found hope the com­mu­nity will fill it up with coats, un­der­wear, socks, canned food and gift cards.

West­brook said he will at­tend the town hall meet­ing coming straight from his stay on the truck “so it might not be pretty” and then will re­turn to the truck af­ter­wards for an­other 24 hours.

De­pen­dent on do­na­tions

The At­lanta Sis­ters of Per­pet­ual In­dul­gence an­nounced at a town hall meet­ing last Novem­ber that its mem­bers would form a new or­ga­ni­za­tion in At­lanta to serve LGBT home­less youth who were fall­ing through the cracks of other or­ga­ni­za­tions.

First named Saint Lost-n-Found, the group changed its name to Lost-n-Found Youth and just this month re­ceived its own non-profit sta­tus as a sep­a­rate en­tity from the Sis­ters of Per­pet­ual In­dul­gence.

Since that town hall in Novem­ber through to­day, the or­ga­ni­za­tion — com­pletely vol­un­teer run — has staffed a 24/7 hot­line for youth who are in im­me­di­ate need of hous­ing and also main­tains a six-room home.

In its first year, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has helped some 100 young peo­ple find hous­ing, jobs, get dental and health care, clothes and a sense of em­pow­er­ment.

The town hall meet­ing on Nov. 7 will up­date the com­mu­nity on what Lost-n-Found has ac­com­plished and also ex­plain where the group Lost-n-Found Youth Town Hall Wed­nes­day, Nov. 7, 7 p.m. The Rush Cen­ter 1530 DeKalb Av­enue, Suite A, At­lanta, GA 30307 www.lost-n-found.org 24 hour hot­line: 678-8-Lost-25 still needs help to serve LGBT youth, West­brook said.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion holds reg­u­lar fundrais­ers, in­clud­ing the monthly Big Gay Game Show at Jun­gle, which typ­i­cally raises ap­prox­i­mately $1,000 and pays the rent for the group home.

But West­brook and the Lost-n-Found board of direc­tors are de­ter­mined not to ac­cept state fund­ing or grants be­cause they do not want the or­ga­ni­za­tion to be forced to fol­low strict guide­lines of who and how they can help. That’s why do­na­tions from the com­mu­nity are so im­por­tant, Wes­brook said, not­ing that a great time to give is when he is camped on top of the truck.

“It really is the be­gin­ning of our sec­ond year of fund­ing so If peo­ple want to bring cash, checks, loose change — I will make sure it gets used to its fullest po­ten­tial,” West­brook said.

Lost-n-Found Youth’s float in the At­lanta Pride pa­rade had the theme of ‘The places you’ll go!’ (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

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