Highland Park, MI  (CBS Detroit)  – For twenty years now, The Ruth Ellis Center has established a national reputation for quality and innovation in providing trauma-informed services for homeless, runaway and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and young adults of color.

“The Ruth Ellis Center was incorporated in 1999,” explains Pamela Alexander, Deputy Director of The Ruth Ellis Center, “and came together through the gathering of LGBT concerned citizens in the community who were challenged with learning about young people who were becoming homeless, because their parents were putting them out.”

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Ruth Ellis Center is named in honor of the life and work of Ruth Ellis, who was respected and loved for her longevity and endurance as one of Detroit’s oldest and proudest African-American lesbians, the first woman in the City of Detroit to own her own printing company, and for her many years of service to all people in need.

“The problem was much worse than they realized,” continues Alexander, “so they created the Ruth Ellis Center in 1999. Doing that began a legacy over the last 20 years, and thousands of young people have come through this door.”

“Young people who identify as LGBTQ, plus they’re on the spectrum, who have become homeless because their parents did not understand what their children were going through and rejected them. Just literally put those people out on the street to survive on their own, and they made their way here.”

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“My first visit I just fell in love with what they were doing here,” says actress Wanda Sykes, “and I said ‘hey if you need anything, let me know’.  It’s a safe place, know that people love you and they want you to have a good life.”

“Helping a young person find hope, find some sense of a future goal, even if that goal is a week or a month away,” adds Jerry Peterson, Executive Director of The Ruth Ellis Center. “To be able to move forward, meet a goal, and keep moving on.”

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