After two contentious meetings with up to 100 community members attending, Youth First Texas is moving forward with an interim board that’s pledging to renew its commitment to programming. At a Thursday night Big Group meeting on Jan. 31, the new board introduced itself to youth. Although the six members of the new board have years of experience with the organization dating back to its founding, each had been gone for at least two years.
Interim board President Richard Gordon said rumors had been swirling among the youth, but that all activities would continue and the center would be open the same hours. On some of the questions from youth Gordon responded that he didn’t know.
“I’m still getting up to speed,” Gordon said. “I’ve only been at this since Sunday.”
Dorian Mooneyham was hired as a part-time employee to open the center three days a week, and volunteers will be there another two. The drop-in center on Harry Hines Boulevard is open Tuesday through Saturday evenings.
Representatives from groups that raise money for YFT, who had expressed a lack of confidence in the previous board, also attended the meeting.
“You have our support and full confidence,” said Devon DeVasquez, empress of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire.
With the interim board in place and financial situation stable, Gordon’s main priority is programming to bring youth back to the center. Attendance has dwindled over the past year.
“We can’t tell you what kind of programs you need,” Gordon told the youth. “If you want a Valentine’s Day dance, put it together and tell us how much money you need.”
Gordon said Friday night home-cooked dinners will continue. For some of the youth who attend, he said, it’s their only full meal for the week.
One youth asked if the Gayla Prom would happen this year. Gordon said he hopes so. He’s looking into what work has been done so far and whether corporate funding has been solicited.
A member of YFT’s drama club asked if it would be possible to get tickets for shows. Renee Baker, returning to the board as programming chair, said she would look into it and asked for help from the community to secure tickets.
Gordon said he hopes the interim board will be in place for only six to nine months. During the next few months, he hopes to relaunch the youth board and community advisory board. Both disbanded in the last few years. And he’s looking for new volunteers over the age of 25 to work with the organization on committees.
During this transition period, Gordon said he plans to keep the board “lean and mean.” He hopes to find community members who can apply to serve on a permanent new board that will be in place by the end of the year.
He said the board is looking for volunteers to plan the Gayla Prom and Dallas Pride activities, and to sponsor Friday night dinners. Immediate help is needed for next week’s Valentine’s dance.
Gordon said all volunteers must complete a training class. To volunteer, email volunteer@YouthFirstTexas.org.
— David Taffet
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 8, 2013.