Rick Westbrook, executive director of the organization that provides the only emergency shelter specifically to LGBT young people over the age of 18, will sit and sleep on the moving truck for 48 hours — except during a break on Saturday, Nov. 2, beginning at 8 p.m. in which he and other Lost-N-Found officials will mark the organization’s second anniversary by giving a public update on how the group is doing and what goals it is working on.
The town hall meeting on Saturday will be held in the patio of Burkhart’s starting at 8 p.m. and is open to the public. Then on Sunday, Nov. 3, when Westbrook comes down from the truck after his vigil, the Armorettes will hold a fundraiser at 9 p.m. at Burkhart’s for Lost-N-Found.
Last year, Westbrook and the organization did the same activities last year to raise awareness of homeless LGBT youth in Atlanta and the metro area.
The reason for the 48 hours? Because national statistics state that if homeless youth are not reached by a shelter or someone who can help within that first 48 hours of being on the street, they will most likely turn to prostitution, stealing, drugs or other illegal activity in order to survive, Westbrook said.
In May, Westbrook announced Lost-N-Found’s ambitious goal to raise $1 million by October 2014.
And though Lost-N-Found did not reach e $130,000 originally targeted for the end of July, it raised the $30,000 it sought before the end of May, according to Westbrook.
Initial plans were to open a thrift store, but city permitting issues have put that on hold for right now. However, the organization is still accepting items for the thrift store — a location near Cheshire Bridge Road and Interstate 85 has already been leased and is being filled with items. Money raised from the thrift store would go to funding Lost-N-Found.
Lost-N-Found’s 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.