OUTMemphis Hits Campaign Milestone – Raises Funds Needed to Build LGBTQ Youth Emergency Shelter
Plough Foundation Responds to LGBTQ Youth Housing Need with $125,000 Grant
Memphis, TN, October 2, 2017: OUTMemphis is pleased to announce it has successfully secured the funds needed to construct the Youth Emergency Shelter, the cornerstone of its Metamorphosis Project. The construction goal was met following the award of a $125,000 Capital Grant from the Plough Foundation. Combined with previous donations from foundations and individuals, including a $125,000 challenge grant from the Assisi Foundation, this gift enables OUTMemphis to move forward with construction and direct its fundraising efforts from construction towards securing the dollars needed to provide vital support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth.
“With sufficient funding to complete construction, our task now is to bring life to the building,” says Will Batts, OUTMemphis Executive Director. “We want to honor the spirit of the gifts from Plough Foundation and Assisi Foundation by ensuring that the Metamorphosis Project will serve young LGBTQ clients for years to come,” says Batts.
Throughout the 28-year history of OUTMemphis (formerly Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center), the board, staff, and volunteers have responded to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth — especially those of young people living on the street or in unstable housing conditions. These LGBTQ young people have slept on our couches, on our deck, and in our backyard. They come looking for food, shelter, a sense of belonging, and sometimes a surrogate family. Many of them are kicked out of their homes by parents who don’t want them to be LGBTQ. We call it “getting kicked out when you come out.”
Approximately 8% of the general population identifies as LGBTQ, however more than 40% of the young people on the street identify that way. “Those are our kids living on the street,” says OUTMemphis Executive Director Will Batts. “So many of us in our community either knew kids that were kicked out of their homes, or we WERE those kids.” Family rejection is the number one reason nationally for young people living on the streets.
Currently, OUTMemphis provides counseling, food, connections to social services, assistance finding healthcare, legal, and education support, but until recently we have not been able to provide the greatest need: housing. We have studied, planned, and researched the best response. Our answer is the Metamorphosis Project.
The Metamorphosis Project Youth Services Center will provide emergency shelter for LGBTQ homeless young people who cannot be housed by any other existing organization. During the day, the Youth Services Center will function as a drop-in center for youth, both LGBTQ and straight. It will serve as a central location for a wide range of services. Young adults, 18-24 years old, will have access to food, clothing, personal care supplies, mentoring, job and educational placement assistance, life skills classes, mental and emotional health services, and other needed support. Combined with a Rapid Rehousing program, the project will provide all the tools necessary for young LGBTQ people with the tools to move from the street to independence.
When open, The Metamorphosis Project Youth Services Center will be the only homeless shelter in Memphis designed around the unique needs of young people. “For years, OUTMemphis has provided many of the services that our young people needed but what we couldn’t provide was housing. This is our dream coming true for helping LGBTQ youth on the street,” says Stephanie Reyes, OUTMemphis’ Youth services Manager.
Bringing this new center to life is the first goal of OUTMemphis as we expand to meet community needs. Other upcoming projects include securing a larger building, and expanding programing to meet other needs. All community members are encouraged to get involved and give to these important projects.
Details about the Metamorphosis Project can be found here.
OUTMemphis Mission: OUTMemphis empowers, connects, educates and advocates for the LGBTQ community of the Mid-South.
OUTMemphis Vision: LGBTQ individuals live in a world where everyone has equal rights, and is safe, respected and celebrated.