A Gift of Shelter for Time Out YouthBy Scott Crowder
Co-Chair, Ministry of Outreach
The MPBC Board of Deacons has agreed to empower the Ministry of Outreach to allocate the Cornwell Endowment Mission Tithe Fund. The fund was originally established as a capital campaign in early 2000 and used for housing in the Lakewood Community. The loan has been settled and paid in full, resulting in a balance of approximately $280,000.
The Ministry of Outreach and the Board of Deacons unanimously agreed to immediately advocate for Charlotte’s gay, lesbian, and transgender youth in Time Out Youth’s (TOY) current effort to build North Carolina’s first homeless shelter for LGBT youth. Our allocation of $100,000 will support the center’s $3.4 million purchase and renovation of an existing building which will be a hub for LGBT youth. The site, located at Monroe and Eastway/Wendover Roads, will also build and host a shelter for 10-12 homeless youth.
This gift solidifies our twenty-year relationship with TOY, which was founded in the late 1990’s by Tonda Taylor. Reeling from recent family losses, Taylor was also helping a teenage friend struggling with her sexual orientation. There were no support programs for gay, lesbian, or transgender youth, so Tonda, and a small group of human service professionals and clergy, filled a desperate need for Charlotte youth. TOY was formed and a weekly discussion group began. MPBC provided meeting space for the newly formed group and we hosted the first LGBT focused city-wide conference a few years later.
Today, Time Out Youth is the oldest and largest LGBTQ organization in the Carolinas, running on an annual budget of $560,000. TOY reported that North Carolina’s recent restroom debate created a rise in LGBT youth seeking help, causing their client visits to double in 2016. The agency offers (and finds) a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youths between 11 and 20 years old, as well as counseling and job support programs.
“A shelter is a piece of our programming that has long been missing,” Rodney Tucker, the Center’s Director, said. “Time Out Youth has operated a fledgling housing program in recent years that places LGBTQ youths with volunteer hosts. However, only 10 youths a year can be housed due to lack of space. LGBTQ youth who grow up in homophobic or transphobic homes face tremendous cruelty and abuse. We hear from youth who have suffered physical, emotional, and verbal abuse; it is common for them to hear their lives are ‘against God’ and to be kicked out of their homes, alone, without anything. This shelter will give our youth a place to call home.”
The Ministry of Outreach immediately began due diligence on housing-oriented projects when the news came to us that the funds were potentially available. It was clear to our ministry that TOY was organized, as the building had been purchased and they are moving in April. The gift comes two years after we invited TOY, RAIN, and church leaders to MPBC for a day-long conversation on youth and the rising HIV rates. Lesbian, gay, or trans kids are often the most vulnerable in the room.
Our gift sends a message to TOY’s clients and to the city that our faith community cares about the LGBTQ community. Our role should be to feed, clothe, and protect the “least powerful of these.” Humanity should call us to support and protect those who are at risk, dehumanized, or excluded.
The Ministry of Outreach is working with two other partners, Mayfield Memorial and West End Land Trust, who are developing exciting and innovative plans to tackle affordable housing. Although both are in planning stages, we will continue due diligence and aim to provide a listening/learning opportunity for ministry leaders. Ideally, we will allocate funds to these two projects later in 2017.
Charlotte Observer Article