Police investigating break in at Youth First

Youth First

Youth First after an overnight break in. (Photo courtesy of Resource Center)

A break in occurred at Youth First on Harry Hines Boulevard overnight, which Resource Center personnel discovered this morning.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said they discovered the burglary on Friday morning. He said it took place after hours Thursday night, after all youth had left the building.

The door to Youth First program director Mike Cruz’s door was kicked open. A karaoke machine, stereo system and several gaming systems were taken.

“It looks like when the Grinch stole Christmas,” McDonnell said.

He said when he was over at the facility earlier today, police were still dusting for fingerprints, and they’re still totaling up what was taken. They’re also looking into what will be covered by insurance and how large the deductible is.

“The computers appear intact,” he said.

Anyone with information should contact Det. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison with the Dallas Police Department. Her number is 214-490-0541.

As a side note from Dallas Voice, anyone with Microsoft, a retailer or any or any other company or donor who would like to help Youth First replace what was taken may contact Cameron Hernholm at Resource Center at 214-528-0144.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Bears donate $69K to charities

$69K

On Saturday, the Dallas Bears held their annual anniversary dinner and celebration, as well as the installation of the new board of directors (which looks a lot like the previous board), at the Toby Keith Grill … and because they were bears, there was plenty to eat. But in addition to food, fellowship and fondling (well, just a little), they also formalized all their donations from the previous year’s events, including Texas Bear Round Up 18 and food and school supply drives. Among the funds awarded: $33,000 to Youth First Texas, a program of Resource Center Dallas; $16,500 to RCD’s nutrition program; $16,500 to the Sharon St. Cyr Fund (which aids the hearing impaired); and $3,000 in school supplies and food. Add all those up and … hmmmm … that’s $69,000. Repeat: Sixty-nine.

Those bears can even make charity gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: Resource Center Dallas to take over Youth First Texas on June 1

yftResource Center Dallas will assume all programming from Youth First Texas on June 1 as a result of an agreement reached between the two organizations, according to a release from RCD this afternoon. 

This will ensure a continuation of programming for LGBTQ youth, which was in doubt earlier this year after the previous YFT board had dwindled and remaining members either resigned or were removed.

After RCD assumes YFT programming, YFT will become a program of RCD. Programming will continue with YFT’s current staff and volunteers at its present location at 3918 Harry Hines Blvd.

Our strategic vision is to expand programs for seniors, families and youth,” RCD CEO Cece Cox said in the release. “As Resource Center Dallas nears its 30th anniversary, we are eager to take on the new challenges of serving our community’s youth and plan to work with the youth to develop additional programs and services. We will build upon the significant foundation and broad community support established by Youth First Texas over their 13 years of service.”

Richard Gordon was one of YFT’s first board members. He returned to the board in January to become interim chair after all previous board member resigned.

I am confident that the LGBTQ youth of North Texas will greatly benefit by the Center taking on the programming offered by Youth First,” Gordon said. “After extensive review and discussion, it was decided that this move to the Center will provide the much-needed stability and support that our LGTBQ youth deserve.”

—  David Taffet

Youth First Texas removes entire Board of Directors, appoints interim board

Former Youth First Texas board Chairman Chris-James Cognetta, seated left, reads a resolution to dissolve the entire board at a meeting Jan. 17. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Youth First Texas Board of Directors voted to remove its members at a special board meeting Thursday night.

Former YTF board members, Chris Hendrix, Cathy Gonzalez and Richard Gordon will step in as the interim board until more members can be added.

Board chair Chris-James Cognetta read the resolution to dissolve the board to a room of about 30 people before it was approved and the brief meeting was adjourned.

The resolution called for the complete removal of the board because of dysfunction among members, concerns of stakeholders and in light of statements made by community leaders at the last board meeting Jan. 8 that could be seen as damaging.

—  Dallasvoice

Youth First Texas’ most popular event of the year, Thanksgiving dinner, is tonight

Thanksgiving dinner at Youth First Texas is usually the busiest day of the year at the agency serving LGBT youth.

The 13-year tradition takes place this year on Thursday, Nov. 15 — which is this evening — at the YFT center at 3918 Harry Hines Boulevard.

“Alumni, youth and volunteers come out the of the woodwork for it,” said YFT board President Chris-James Cognetta.

Doors open at 4 p.m. for food preparation. Dinner begins at about 6:30 p.m. and runs until close at 9:30 p.m. The dinner is free and is donated and cooked by volunteers.

“This may be the only Thanksgiving they have,” Cognetta said of the youth who attend.

He said a number of youth have aged out of the foster system and have no other family.

YFT is also looking for a volunteer to open the center on Thanksgiving night — Thursday, Nov. 22. (If you’re at least 25 and interested in volunteering call 214-879-0400 ext. 203.)

Cognetta said he also plans to have the center open at least part of the day on Christmas.

“Some of our youth get very depressed that day,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Beau and Major marry!

After sparking an international movement for marriage equality with local protests and arrests, Beau Chandler and Mark “Major” Jiminez married Thursday night.

The two looked rather dapper dressed in white tuxes with yellow bow ties and rose flourishes. Among their closest friends and family, the couple married at a friend’s home near Bachman Lake and exchanged their vows in an intimate ceremony.

The reception that followed at the Dallas Eagle raised $788 in addition to a $200 anonymous donation before the event. The money will be divided among Youth First Texas and 89.3 KNON’s Lambda Weekly and the Sonic Assembly Hour programs.

Read more about their love story in last week’s cover story.

Congrats, you two!

—  Dallasvoice

North Texans donate more than $2K to help catch teen lesbian couple’s shooter

Kris Wong of Youth First Texas, left, and Cd Kirven of GetEQUAL Texas, right, are shown with a representative from Tri-County Crime Stoppers, center

North Texans Kris Wong, C.d. Kirven and Mark Reed traveled to Aransas Pass near Portland to deliver two checks to Tri-County Crime Stoppers totaling $2,125 to help solve the shooting of a teenage lesbian couple.

On June 22, 19-year-old Mollie Olgin was murdered and 18-year-old Kristene Chapa was shot in a park in Portland, Texas. A sketch of the shooter has been released, but there are no suspects.

“The exciting thing about yesterday was the Portland City Council approved $15,000 and two police departments committed $5,000 each,” Reed said.

That $25,000 will go toward a Crime Stoppers reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. The money donated by the trio will be used to make a video reenactment of the shooting that will be filmed in two weeks to be published online and shown on local TV news outlets.

“Funds we delivered will be used to advertise the video,” Reed said. “They are very focused on getting this crime solved.

Kirven began the fundraising effort at a vigil held for the couple on Cedar Springs Road on June 30.

Wong, 17, a member of Youth First Texas Collin County, organized a bowling tournament in Plano to raise additional funds for the reward fund. That event exceeded her $1,000 goal.

—  David Taffet

How to get tickets for YFTCC fundraiser

Vigil that inspired the fundraiser

In Friday’s paper we printed a brief about a fundraiser Youth First Texas Collin County is running to raise money for Crime Stoppers in connection with the murder of Mollie Olgin and the shooting of Kristene Chapa. But we forgot to let you know how to get tickets.

Go here to get tickets on the Collin County Gay and Lesbian alliance website.

YFTCC youth Kris Wong, who will attend Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall, came home from the Dallas vigil held for Olgin and Chapa energized to do something. With YFTCC volunteer Lisa Mashigian, they put together the bowling fundraiser with the goal of raising $1000. With three weeks preparation time, they hope to get 60 people involved.

“The response from Collin County LGBTQA organizations and people has been wonderful,” Mashigian said.

CCGLA has set up a payment system and is sending the event out to its members. Equality Texas, BB&T, Business Network of Collin County, YFT Dallas and other individuals have made donations to the gift bags. Collin County employee resource groups have also been notified.

Mashigian said that this is not just a Collin County event and hopes to see a good turnout.

—  David Taffet

Saturday night, the Dallas Bears presented community organizations with $58K in donations

Dallas Bears 2011-12 board

Last Saturday, the Dallas Bears convened for food and fellowship at their anniversary dinner at Celebration restaurant. Through the course of the night, announcements were made about the group’s efforts, the new board for 2012-13 and recognition of various individuals who assisted the group throughout the Texas Bear Round-Up. You can see some of those announcements on Twitter here.

The highlight of the evening, though, was certainly the DB’s donation of $58,000 to local charities. The group doled out the bulk of its donations to Youth First Texas ($26,250), the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund ($13,125), AIDS Interfaith Network ($13,125), AIDS Services of Dallas ($2,125) and the Sharon St. Cyr Fund ($1,500). Check out the photos after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Up to 20 LGBT youth served by Dallas agency could benefit from Obama’s immigration order

The rally outside the White House after Friday's announcement. (Via NGLTF)

As many as 20 LGBT young people at Youth First Texas could take advantage of a new immigration policy announced Friday by President Barack Obama, according to YFT Board Chair Chris Cognetta.

Obama announced that the U.S. will stop deporting illegal aliens who were brought to this country as children, and they will be able to obtain work permits.

Effective immediately, the new rule will apply to people who are currently under 30 years old, arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 and have lived here for at least five years. To qualify, they must have no criminal record and have earned a high school diploma, be in school or served in the military.

The provisions are similar to those proposed in the DREAM Act that has been before Congress several times but has not passed.

The change in policy could have an even greater impact for gay and lesbian youth. That’s because in many cases, a heterosexual sibling marries a U.S. citizen and can immediately apply for a green card and begin the naturalization process. The gay or lesbian sibling cannot be sponsored by a partner.

—  David Taffet