Houston's New Faces of Pride to host winter supply drive to benefit LGBTQ+ youth

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Friday, November 17, 2023
Houston's New Faces of Pride to host drive to benefit LGBTQ youth.
ABC13 gathered leaders from Houston's New Faces of Pride, Ripcord, Tony's Place and Grace Place to highlight how you can meet the urgent need for supplies to help homeless LGBTQ+ teens.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Houston prepares for Thanksgiving, the city's newest LGBTQ+ organization hopes to channel some gratitude to help our most vulnerable.

Houston's New Faces of Pride will collect new and gently-used jackets, blankets, backpacks and hand warmers on Dec. 6 to help homeless and home-insecure teens.

The supply drive, which will run from 6-9 p.m. at Ripcord in Montrose, will spotlight two nonprofits that serve LGBTQ+ youth, Tony's Place and Grace Place.

With forecasters predicting a wet and cool winter ahead, the president of Houston's new Pride parade and festival said the urgency couldn't be greater.

"Everyone's telling us that we are going to have a brutal winter," Bryan Cotton said. "We wanted to make sure that these organizations had plenty of these items on hand to help out the LGBT youth that are, unfortunately, currently on the streets."

"We live in Houston, where the weather can change on a dime," Tony's Place executive director Carrie Rai added. "I look at my clothes in my closet, and I have a choice about what to wear. A lot of our clients do not have a choice."

LGBTQ+ youth face great need, especially during the holidays

"Many people are, you know, visible to us there on the street every day, and while many are unhoused, many of them, many more are invisible," Grace Place executive director Courtney Sellers said.

Twice a week, youth experiencing homelessness gather in the halls of Kindred Montrose, where Grace Place operates.

Like Tony's Place, the organization works to provide safety and nourishment to those who need it most, primarily Black and brown LGBTQ+ youth. Many were part of the foster care system before aging out.

"A lot of people don't know this: that over 25% of youth that enter the foster care system will become homeless within 18 months of their 18th birthday," Sellers said. "Also, I think what people don't realize is the sheer number of young people who are couch surfing."

The number one reason for homelessness or home insecurity among these teens, Rai said, is lack of acceptance because of sexual orientation or identity.

"At Tony's Place, we really try to create a safe space where people can be who they are, explore who they are, and just really be embraced by the community," Rai added.

It's a labor of love that can make a world of difference, especially during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.

"The past few years, youth have come and we've cooked dinner together and like, watched a movie. And that has been amazing," Sellers said. "Something that small has such like, a positive impact."

How you can help these vulnerable teens

Caring for these youth however takes a village, which is why your donations on Dec. 6 can make a huge impact.

"You are providing dignity," Grace Place board president Natalie Ferguson said. "It goes beyond just kind of the tangible needs of giving someone a jacket. It really is about hope, security, dignity, the sense of feeling human that we are all owed, and so many of our home insecure population just do not experience."

Andrea Simonton of Houston's New Faces of Pride said the organization has created an Amazon wish list with jackets, blankets and backpacks starting around $10.

"We're hoping it's gonna be a big turnout, and everyone... community coming together to help out for this important cause," Ripcord assistant manager Piero Arevalo said.

For free admission to the New Faces of Pride Supply Drive celebration and discounted drinks with your donation, register now at Eventbrite.com.

Ripcord is located at 715 Fairview St., in Montrose.

Houston's first New Faces of Pride festival and parade is set for June 22, 2024. For details, visit NewFacesofPride.org.