The Center Orlando Celebrates the Opening of the Zebra Coalition House for LGBT Youth in Orlando!

Forty-two percent of homeless youth are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) and 26 percent of LGBTQ youth who come out to their parents are asked to leave home

ORLANDO, Fla. – Monday, December 3, 2012 – After months of renovation, the new Zebra Coalition® House, located at 911 North Mills Avenue, will open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City of Orlando District 4 Commissioner, Patty Sheehan.

The Zebra Coalition® House will provide office space for the Zebra Coalition® staff and offer case management and counseling; medical services; a food, hygiene and clothing bank; laundry and shower facilities; education and career support; a resource library; and a computer center to at-risk LGBTQ youth. It will also serve other Coalition members as a location for peer support and discussion groups, art and music therapy and educational and therapeutic workshops.

“We are proud to be here representing the City of Orlando and recognizing the critical services that the Zebra Coalition® and the new Zebra Coalition® House provide to at-risk youth in Central Florida,” said Mayor Dyer. “The Zebra Coalition is the only organization in Central Florida that provides a full continuum of services to the LGBTQ youth community.”

The Zebra Coalition® was established in response to the growing number of LGBTQ youth in Central Florida who are experiencing homelessness, bullying, extreme physical and sexual abuse, isolation from their families, and a wide range of life challenges or setbacks.

“In Central Florida, existing homeless shelters do not have the protocols or the staff to safely take in these young people under 18, unless they are with an adult,” said Dexter Foxworth, director of the Zebra Coalition®. “Most of the youth whom we are serving don’t have that adult with them since they have been kicked out of their own homes and are facing issues with finding affordable housing.”

“I am proud to have an organization like the Zebra Coalition® in my district,” said Commissioner Sheehan. “This organization fosters hope, dignity and self-respect in LGBTQ youth and provides them with an opportunity to grow up in a safe, healthy and supportive environment.”

The Bryce L. West Foundation, a private foundation supporting the arts, education and organizations that provide services to individuals in need throughout Central Florida, recently announced a pledge of $500,000 over the next eight years toward the renovation and operations of the Zebra Coalition® House.

“By making this gift, we can ensure that future donations, gifts, grants and other financial assistance to the Zebra Foundation for Youth® will go directly to client services, ”said Bryce West, executive director of the Bryce L. West Foundation and board member of the Zebra Foundation for Youth®.

The Zebra Coalition® has also received in-kind donations from several Central Florida businesses to assist with the renovation and opening of the Zebra Coalition® House. They include:

Advanced Stair & Rail, Inc.
Leigh Installations
Allied Mechanical
Loch Haven Veterinary Hospital
Appleton Creative
Microsoft Store at Florida Mall
Craig J. Kosuta and Associates, Inc.
Mid State Plumbing, Inc.
Dimensions Cabinetry and Millwork, Inc.
Montanna & Associates, Inc.
Division 8 Doors and Hardware
NETsystems Communications
Dix Lathrop & Associates, Inc.
Pat & Mat Drywall
Dixie Shower & Glass
Sara Brady Public Relations, Inc.
Donald W. McIntosh Associates, Inc.
Spectra Contract Flooring
IKEA Orlando
VIP Valet
Interstruct, Inc.
VMG Construction, Inc.
Jensy Construction, Inc.
Walker & Company, Inc.
Judy Watson Tracy Photography
Window Interiors
Koneco Building Services, Inc.
Z Properties Group, Inc.
L.C. Electric, Inc.
The Zebra Coalition® is a network of 19 Central Florida social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities that provides a full continuum of services to at-risk LGBTQ youth. The average direct cost to manage one Zebra Coalition® client case for one month is approximately $500.

The Zebra Coalition® members include: The Center for Drug Free Living, Christ Church Unity, The City of Orlando Housing and Community Development, The City of Orlando Police Department, The Coalition for the Homeless, Equality Florida, The GLBT Community Center, GLSEN, The Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, Inc., Human Services Associates, Inc., Joy Metropolitan Community Church, Metropolitan Business Association, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando Youth Alliance, PFLAG Orlando, PFLAG Brevard County, Rollins College, Stetson University, and the University of Central Florida.

The Zebra Coalition® assists young people facing homelessness; bullying; physical, sexual and drug abuse; and isolation from their families with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability. The Zebra Coalition also operates a 24-hour youth crisis hotline (1.877.90 ZEBRA), emergency and short-term housing and provides the Zebra Coalition® House as a safe haven and community resource. For more information about the Zebra Coalition®, visit www.zebrayouth.org.

Photo and video opportunities include: Actual ribbon cutting with Mayor Dyer, Commissioner Sheehan and the Zebra Foundation for Youth® Board of Directors; Willie, the seven year old Zebra, who has appeared in films such as Zookeeper and in commercials for Juicy Fruit; interior and exterior of the renovated Zebra Coalition® House; Zebra Coalition® members and individuals who have received assistance.

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