Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
ROYAL OAK – The crowd at the Ruth Ellis Center Winter Heat fashion fund-raiser at Dolce Moda in Royal Oak last Saturday erupted in cheers, applause, whistles and cries of “you go girl” and “shake it up, baby.”
The pandemonium may have been inspired by the European-style fashions they saw coming down the runway – like the embroidered lace-up bustier and ankle-length slit skirt or the black brocade-like men’s evening jacket topping a t-shirt, fitted jeans and flip-flops.
Or it may have been the male models with their chiseled features and well-muscled physiques and the female mannequin with her graceful curvy figure that stimulated the audience.
Whatever caused the commotion, the biggest smile in the room was found on the face of Grace McClelland, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center.
Sponsors, ticket-purchasers and donors raised nearly $20,000 for the center devoted to helping LGBTQ runaway, throwaway and other homeless youths.
Everyone connected to the event, from host site Dolce Moda, to the models, make-up artist and hair stylist, donated their time and services to the show, ensuring that every penny raised will go to aid REC’s teens.
The money will be used for the center’s 6-year-old street outreach program, said McClelland.
“We have counselors that go on the street and contact LGBTQ youth,” she said. “We provide them with a safe-sex kit and a card with numbers for organizations like Triangle, Ruth Ellis and Affirmations.”
Last year, over 10,000 young people stopped by for a hot meal, a shower, fresh clothing or just a warm word from adults and other teens.
“Most of our people end up on the street because they are outed and their parents kick them out,” said McClelland.
On May 1, REC will move to a 5,000 square feet building at 77 Victor in Highland Park – more than five times the size of their old digs, said McClelland.
Tel, 20, is just one of the youths helped at the Center.
She said her first visit was five years ago.
Now, she lives at Ruth’s House, a supervised group home that aims to teach teens how to live independently.
“They can help me with any type of issue or problem,” said Tel, who wants to be a mechanic. “I’ve got a GED.”
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – Detroit Board Member Arnold Edmunds was among the people in the packed clothing store munching on chocolates, pastries and other treats and enjoying the fashion show.
Edmunds said he came to the event because he thought REC was a wonderful place devoted to rescuing kids.
“Anyone who could do that kind of work has to have their heart in the right place,” he said.