56 per­cent

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sound. And it is,” West­brook says. “So it will be a great house. We’ve just got to get off our butts and do it.”

AHF thrift store draws crit­i­cism

One de­vel­op­ment that raised eye­brows while the per­mit­ting process dragged on last fall was the open­ing of a thrift store by the con­tro­ver­sial AIDS Health­care Foun­da­tion just blocks from Lost-N-Found Youth’s thrift store. AHF, who have been crit­i­cal of the use of PrEP, ac­quired AID At­lanta last year. West­brook doesn’t mince words when talk turns to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“AHF is not a good thing. I’ll leave it at that. Any­body can Google it and fig­ure it out. There’s go­ing to be a lot of up­ris­ing in At­lanta. It’s al­ready started,” he says, ref­er­enc­ing neg­a­tive re­ac­tion on so­cial me­dia once news of the open­ing of AHF’s thrift store got out.

“AHF has more money than God and they throw their weight around,” West­brook con­tin­ues. “But this is a com­mu­nity that’s not go­ing to let that weight carry any­thing. That’s a small space. In their thrift shops they do of­fer test­ing and a phar­macy. I don’t have the need or want to get into a phar­macy. It’s im­por­tant as the true ac­tivist in me that we not du­pli­cate ser­vices if there are peo­ple in town that are do­ing things.”

West­brook cites Lost-N-Found Youth’s part­ner­ship with Pos­i­tive Im­pact’s MISTER Cen­ter, say­ing, “I send all my kids over there to get tested be­cause I know that they’re go­ing to take care of them. I know that they’re not go­ing to shame them into not hav­ing sex.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for AHF did not re­spond with a re­ply to West­brook’s com­ments by press time.

Cor­po­rate part­ners sought

De­spite any out­side dis­trac­tions, Lost-NFound Youth is mov­ing for­ward with a $1 mil­lion cap­i­tal cam­paign, which will launch April 1, pre­ceded by a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony. And while small do­na­tions from the com­mu­nity are vi­tal, they aren’t hes­i­tat­ing to go af­ter big­ger fish as well.

“We will be go­ing full force. I’ll be hit­ting up Coke. Home De­pot’s al­ready on board. The South­ern Com­pany, Ge­or­gia Power, Delta—all the big­wigs,” West­brook says. “It needs to be a house that’s built by the com­mu­nity. Noth­ing’s more im­por­tant than that. The kids need to be able to see that this com­pany, this per­son, this group do­nated money to build a house that they can be safe in. That speaks vol­umes to help­ing them along, to deal with the re­jec­tion that they had by their fam­ily and by their churches, and to see that it’s not just all gay peo­ple—it’s a lot of straight peo­ple too.”

West­brook says the $1 mil­lion will give the group just enough to fin­ish the new shel­ter and pro­vide be­tween one and two years of op­er­at­ing rev­enue. Two up­com­ing events—the Thriv­ing Chil­dren An­nual Gala on April 29 at the Fox Theatre and this June’s East Point Pos­sums show—will be a big part of that. But un­like two years ago, West­brook isn’t pub­licly stat­ing a date for the new shel­ter to open.

“It’s all de­pen­dent on that money com­ing in and the grants.”

March 18, 2016

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