By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
HIGHLAND PARK – The board and staff of the Ruth Ellis Center, which serves homeless LGBT youth in the metro Detroit area, have a dream.
On April 7, they’re going to open their new doors and give the community a chance to help make that dream come true.
That’s right – their new doors. Because the Center has already made the first part of that dream a reality by purchasing a 10,000 square foot building in Highland Park. The closing for the Center’s new home happened in early February.
“We were out of space,” said REC Executive Director Grace McClelland. “Thankfully weÕve never had to turn a young person away, but not having the freedom of space to do the programming we wanted was starting to become critical.”
Before the move, the Center was serving up to 80 young people per day in a 900 square foot space. The center’s administration offices were in a separate space that the agency was also renting, “and we were growing out of that,” McClelland said.
“Looking at the increase in rent for bigger spaces for both [the drop-in center and the administration offices], we decided we could buy one and pay less. This is such a better decision,” she said.
The new space was purchased to accommodate the Center’s programming needs for the next seven years, McClelland said.
Plans for the new drop-in center, which will now be housed in 5,000 square feet of the new building’s space, include computer-based employment training and substance abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention training. All of the training programs will have “components written specifically for transgender and other groups that we have coming to the center,” McClelland said.
Purchasing the 10 planned computers and renovating the entire space is where the community comes in. On April 7, the Ruth Ellis Center will host a fundraising open house from 2-7 p.m. to show off their almost-realized dream of a roomy, fully equipped center for our community’s homeless youth.
The new Ruth Ellis Center is located at 77 Victor Street in Highland Park. For more information about the open house or to make a donation call 313-252-1950 or visit http://www.ruthelliscenter.com.