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|YouthPride in limbo after move|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 08 June 2012 00:00|
Since March 20, YouthPride’s executive director and board of directors have known the organization needed to move out of its location at 1017 Edgewood Ave. by May 31 at 5 p.m.
Instead, movers arrived on the evening of June 1 to move the organization’s belongings into a storage facility after the landlord, Inman Park United Methodist Church, agreed to give the LGBT youth group an extra day to move out.
Postings to YouthPride’s website and Facebook accounts promised the organization would reopen on Monday, June 4. The new location of YouthPride would also be revealed on Monday via the website and Facebook, the group pledged.
That plan faltered somehow and late Monday, another posting to YouthPride’s website and Facebook page said the nonprofit would remain closed through Wednesday, June 6. And still, at press time Tuesday, June 5, the new location for the organization has not been unveiled.
Attempts to reach board members and Terence McPhaul, executive director, have garnered no response. An attempt to talk to McPhaul at the YouthPride space on May 31 resulted in an argument in front of youth sitting in the lobby. McPhaul said that no one without a background check was allowed inside the facility and refused to answer the question of where YouthPride was relocating.
On March 20, YouthPride and Inman Park United Methodist Church reached an agreement that the LGBT youth organization would move out after not paying rent for close to a year. YouthPride was also ordered to pay $28,000 to the church.
Belongings, documents left behind
McPhaul was looking for a storage facility when the movers arrived on June 1, despite knowing for two months that YouthPride needed to move out of its current location by the end of May.
Kevin Philbrick, board president of Inman Park UMC, said YouthPride left many belongings behind, including papers, documents and some furniture.
“They did leave quite a few belongings but I have not determined if any sensitive documents were left behind. A couple of people from the church will be looking through the items early this week and will know by Wednesday or Thursday if there is anything sensitive left behind and if so, we’ll make sure the church takes those into possession temporarily to protect them until YP can collect them safely,” he said.
An internal email was sent out to YouthPride volunteers by McPhaul late Monday, June 4, in addition to the web and Facebook postings, announcing another delay in the reopening.
The postings by McPhaul on YouthPride’s Facebook page and website on late Monday also said there were complications with getting the organization’s phone number transferred by AT&T.
“AT&T has assured us that they understand how critical this issue is, and that they are working swiftly to fix the situation,” the posting stated. It directed youth, current volunteers, those in need of YouthPride’s 24-hour helpline, and even counseling clients to call McPhaul.
Police called on reporter
McPhaul was not at the building when the movers arrived. Instead, he was looking for a storage facility to place YouthPride’s belongings, including furniture, desks and computers. The youth at the building, identified as the administrative assistant and listed on the YouthPride website as Brandon D., said McPhaul has not told him where YouthPride will reopen. He declined to give an interview.
The YouthPride employee, at McPhaul’s direction, also called the Atlanta Police Department to ask an officer to order this reporter from standing outside the building while taking photos and seeking interviews.
“My boss actually called and told me to give you the explanation when you got here,” Brandon told the APD officer. “She’s not allowed to be here. He’s asked her many times to not come here and she continues to come here. We’re a youth center and we don’t allow anyone over 24 here unless they are a parent.”
“[Your boss] owns this property?” the officer asked.
“Yes,” said the YouthPride employee.
The officer then learned that Inman Park UMC actually owned the property and YouthPride was located on the church’s property.
“The church owns the property but this is our center,” Brandon told the officer.
“Basically, the church would have to tell her to leave,” the officer explained. “Since the church owns it … and out here, this is the church’s property.”
Shortly after the officer left, a mother and her teen son walked around the large moving truck as items were being loaded into the truck and asked if this was where YouthPride was located. She said she was bringing her son to attend a discussion group for LGBT youth. YouthPride’s website states Friday evenings there was a “Words of Empowerment” group for LGBTQQ people of color from 6:30-8 p.m.
Brandon came out of the building and told the woman that the organization was closed and messages had been sent out via email, Facebook and Twitter as well as posted on the group’s website. The mother told Brandon that this would have been her son’s first meeting so they were not aware of the closing.
Brandon then told her the facility would reopen Monday. When asked where, he told her it would be announced on Facebook and on the website on Monday.
“So we should just look up YouthPride on Facebook?” the mother asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
Top photo: On Friday, June 1, movers removed the belongings inside YouthPride’s former location at Inman Park United Methodist Church. No new location has been announced. (by Dyana Bagby)
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