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|LGBT youth form ‘JustUsATL’ as option to crumbling YouthPride|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|March 30, 2012 00:00|
As YouthPride continues to face obstacles including a funding crisis, a group of young people who have used its services before are now breaking off to begin forming their own organization.
The group, named JustUsATL, hosts a town hall forum on March 31 at Greater Smith Church at 7 p.m.
“LGBTQ young people including teens and young adults have come together in a consensus-based process to form a new organization,” the group stated in a press release on March 22, the day after a Fulton Magistrate judge ordered YouthPride vacate its premises as part of a settlement agreement with its landlord, Inman Park United Methodist Church.
“JustUsATL seeks to provide a space that is safe, affirming, educational and supportive by offering discussion forums, after school space, peer education, STI testing, counseling and social activities,” the release adds. “All who wish to stand in solidarity with Atlanta’s LGBTQ youth by aiding in efforts to provide the aforementioned services through a central location are invited to learn more about this new organization.”
JustUsATL spokesperson Chris Kontopidis said that young people between the ages of 15 and 26 have been organizing online since Feb. 10 and had their first meeting on March 10, days after a disruptive town hall forum in which an independent task force tried to explain YouthPride’s financial troubles, including facing an approximate $80,000 debt according to its review of some of the non-profit’s financial records.
JustUsATL has also been organizing support group meetings as options to those offered at YouthPride.
On Tuesdays JustUsATL offers its Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming/Questioning discussion group that meets from 7-9 p.m. in the lobby of the Georgia State University’s College of Education building. And on Wednesdays, the new youth group hosts its Teen and Young Adult discussion groups from 7-9 p.m., also in the GSU College of Education’s lobby. The group also offers shuttle service with pick ups at 6:30 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at Edgewood.
YouthPride ordered to vacate premesis by May 31
On March 21, a Fulton Magistrate judge gave YouthPride until 5 p.m. on May 31 to vacate its location at 1017 Edgewood Ave. after being sued by its landlord, Inman Park United Methodist Church, for not paying rent since June 2011. The court also ordered YouthPride to pay a total $28,000 settlement, nearly half of the more than $56,000 actually owed the church in back rent and penalties.
A payment from YouthPride of $18,000 via a cashier’s check has already been paid to the church and a $5,000 cashier’s check is to be paid on April 1 and another $5,000 on May 1, according to the consent order that was signed by YouthPride Executive Director and CEO Terence McPhaul, board member Jordan Myers and Theresa Willis, who signed as the interim chair of the board of directors.
Neither Myers or Willis will respond to requests for comment. Myers identified himself as chair of the board of directors at the start of the financial crisis.
A counterclaim filed by McPhaul on behalf of YouthPride charged that the church had not made repairs to the building, which should reduce the rent by $500 per month for 60 months — or $30,000. It was dismissed for being “without merit.”
Inman Park UMC’s board of trustees issued a statement saying it wanted to give YouthPride and its clients time to relocate.
“The church is still recovering from the loss of tenant revenue during 2011 and 2012 but wishes for the transition of YP to take place as effectively as possible so clients of that organization are not impacted further by the recent events,” said the church’s board of trustees.
McPhaul issued a statement about plans to form a new board of directors.
“YouthPride has been looking for a new home and has shortened its list. A final decision on the new location has not been made. The final cost is not known, but it will be in line with our current and future budget constraints,” McPhaul said.
“YouthPride continues to inform and market to current youth, and the countless youth in the Metro Atlanta area who need our vital services.
“YouthPride’s search for board members is moving quickly. We have identified community members who have a strong interest in using their skills and talents in support of LGBTQQ youth.
“YouthPride continues to offer counseling from a licensed clinician,” McPhaul added.
McPhaul did not answer when asked to identify the licensed clinician, but he claims publicly to be a mental health expert to celebrities. He is not licensed by the Georgia Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists.
Timeline of YouthPride’s financial troubles
Dec. 7 — Inman Park United Methodist Church sends a certified letter to YouthPride demanding unpaid rent. YouthPride CEO and Executive Director Terence McPhaul signs that he received the letter.
Dec. 8 — McPhaul states the non-profit serving metro-Atlanta LGBTQ youth is in a “crisis” and money has to be raised or “we may be forced to close our doors.” He says he wishes for $50,000.
Dec. 9 — YouthPride Board President Jordan Myers posts on Facebook the agency needs to raise $25,000 in one week.
Dec. 16 — McPhaul clarifies YouthPride must raise $40,000 by Dec. 31 or be forced to close its doors in 60 days.
Jan. 3 — Despite the Dec. 31 deadline passing, YouthPride remains open. McPhaul says he is not sure how much of the $40,000 has been raised.
Jan. 12 — McPhaul says YouthPride has raised about $20,000 and extended its deadline for reaching its goal past Dec. 31 to raise the $40,000 needed.
Jan. 14 — Inman Park UMC sends another certified letter to YouthPride again demanding payment. McPhaul signs for the letter.
Jan. 18 — Attorney Marlys Bergstrom, listed as a YouthPride board member, tells GA Voice the board of directors has not met in two years and she was not aware of its plea to raise $40,000 or face closure.
Jan. 25 — Gay teacher Charlie Stadtlander calls together an invitation-only meeting of several LGBT activists and allies to discuss the financial situation at YouthPride. At this meeting, two task forces are created — an internal audit task force to look at the financial viability of the organization and a programs task force.
Feb. 8 — Members of the independent task force reviewing the viability of YouthPride meet with McPhaul at a public meeting at CHRIS Kids headquarters. Task force member and CPA Patt Cianciullo estimates YouthPride’s debt at nearly $80,000, although McPhaul disputed that amount.
Feb. 12 — Inman Park UMC sends another certified letter to McPhaul terminating its lease with YouthPride.
Feb. 17 — Inman Park UMC files suit in Fulton Magistrate Court against YouthPride, demanding more than $40,000 in back rent and fees and asking the Fulton County Marshal to place an eviction notice on the door of the organization.
Feb. 20 — The independent task forces say they consider YouthPride closed after hearing from YP counselor Tana Hall that Myers ordered YouthPride to be closed Feb. 17. McPhaul insists the agency is open and operating.
March 2 — An eviction notice is taped to the door of YouthPride as mandated by the Feb. 17 lawsuit filed by Inman Park UMC, giving the non-profit one week to respond in court.
March 6 — A town hall forum hosted by the independent task forces is held at St. Mark United Methodist Church.
March 9 — McPhaul files a counterclaim to the Inman Park UMC lawsuit. A hearing is set for March 20.
March 20 — McPhaul and Inman Park UMC’s attorney Peter Morgan come to their hearing at Fulton County Magistrate Court with an agreement worked out.
March 21 — The consent order signed by YouthPride and Inman Park UMC officials shows that YouthPride must pay the church $28,000 and move out by 5 p.m. May 31.
March 22 — LGBTQ youth announce they have formed JustUsATL as an option to YouthPride and will host a town hall forum on March 31.
Top photo: YouthPride Executive Director Terence McPhaul says the nonprofit is seeking a new location after learning it must vacate its current site by May 31. (by Dyana Bagby)
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