Local LGBT groups continue fundraising drives

“We still need to raise approximately $50,000 to complete the build out,” Graham said. “We need to raise an additional $15-20,000 before we can start construction. There will be two phases. We would like to start phase one at the end of July and we would like to have the construction completed by October.”

Some $35,000 has already been raised. Donations are tax deductible.

A few of the organizations currently based in the Rush Center will utilize the new office and meeting spaces, Graham said. Other local nonprofits currently housed elsewhere have also expressed an interest in the new offices.

“We anticipate the additional office space we’re providing that we’ll be able to fill it up with new tenants as soon as construction is completed,” Graham said.

The additional space, the Health Initiative’s Linda Ellis said, will allow the Rush Center to host more meetings or group events.

“One of the things we have to keep in mind is the parking capacity and the residential neighborhood,” Ellis said. “It’s not our intention to manage large scale events. We’re not looking for larger meetings, but more options for meeting space.”

The goal is to have the additional space completed by the Atlanta Pride festival, set for Oct. 12-13.

Lost-N-Found takes it to the ‘Thrift Shop’

Rick Westbrook, executive director of Lost-N-Found Youth, says his organization is ahead of schedule after announcing a $1 million capital campaign earlier this year.

Though Lost-N-Found has yet to raise the $130,000 originally targeted for the end of July, it has raised the $30,000 it sought before the end of May, according to Westbrook.

The organization is on-track to open its own thrift store sometime in the next 30 to 60 days and is currently considering two separate buildings as it looks for ways to inject more cash into its operations.

“It will allow us to house the donations we get,” Westbrook said of Lost-N-Found’s proposed thrift shop. “If someone comes in and needs something, it’s on the racks. If a youth moves out and needs furniture, it gives them the chance to get it.”

The first fundraising benchmark was reached shortly after this year’s East Point Possums show, where Lost-N-Found was the primary beneficiary. Other private donations have helped secure the $18,000 needed to open the thrift store, which will be open to the public.

The planned store will also give some of the youth who seek Lost-N-Found’s services a place to learn employable skills like retail and inventory management.

The organization’s future plans also include a larger house that will provide housing to more homeless youth. More than 200 LGBTQ youth have received some kind of service from Lost-N-Found, Westbrook said.

The organization currently has space for six youth to sleep. The goal is to increase that to 18 with the next housing facility.

Aside from donations of clothes and money, Westbrook stressed the need for volunteers to spend time with the youth. Lesbians, Westbrook said, make up nearly 60 percent of the organization’s serviced youth but most of the volunteers are gay men. That’s something he would like to see changed.

“We’re the only place in town that a young lesbian couple can room together,” Westbrook said.


Top photo: Organizers behind the planned expansion of the Phillip Rush Center say they would like to see the new space open in time for this year’s Atlanta Pride festival in October.