Premiere Party began in 2002 as a small gathering and has now grown into a massive white-themed cocktail party and silent auction, but the mission remains the same: raising funds for LGBT and questioning youth who are served by CHRIS Kids, a child welfare nonprofit that provides services ranging from housing to counseling.
Premiere Party has raised $800,000 since its inception. This year’s event is set for June 9 at Mason Murer Fine Art, with tickets starting at $40.
“What I enjoy most is seeing all our friends and supporters coming out to help LGBT children, youth and families,” says CHRIS Kids CEO Kathy Colbenson. “It warms my heart to see people caring enough to do something, to give so that those who have been met with rejection can have acceptance and the support they need to get their lives on track.”
Like Premiere Party itself, CHRIS Kids’ services for LGBT youth have changed through the years. The LGBT “Rainbow Program” is now part of the bigger TransitionZ program, which helps youth make the transition to living independently through housing, counseling and other support.
“We serve many more LGBT kids through housing now because of the expansion,” Colbenson says.
Not all of those LGBT young people want to self-identify as such. CHRIS Kids currently serves about 300 LGBT people and their families, about 15-20 percent of the nonprofit’s total population. Some 23 of the 92 youth currently living in CHRIS Kids’ residential programs are LGBT, though Colbenson notes there may be others who are not “comfortable identifying.” Funds raised from Premiere Party are restricted to the agency’s LGBT Fund, she says.
“All funds raised will be used to help LGBT folks — those who are homeless, those who are living in families that are struggling with their orientation or gender identity, those who are without family support systems, those who need counseling, those who are bullied and to help provide training to end bullying and discrimination against LGBT folks,” Colbenson says.