An event to benefit homeless LGBT youth in San Antonio marks the second year where participants are asked to raise funds and sleep in a city park for a night.
The fundraiser, dubbed “Just One Night” will benefit the Thrive Youth Center, a San Antonio shelter for homeless LGBT teens.
LGBT youth represent a high proportion of an estimated 600,000 or more homeless young people across the country — between 20 percent and 40 percent, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. The data shows that one in three of those young people is thrown out by their parents.
The fundraiser, which is slated for April 6, is the brainchild of Alex Darke, a member of the San Antonio Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Abbey of the Alamo where he goes by the name of Sister Dottie Bair.
“The premise of the event is simple and very similar to a 5k or bike ride,” Darke explains. “People register at the website as an individual/team/whatever, set a fundraising goal, and then ask their friends and family to support them in this unique event meant to bring attention to both the issue of youth homelessness and the organizations that work to help those kids. The event itself? Sleeping in the rough in a city park for a night, watched over by police and volunteers.”
Darke says he created the fundraiser because the issue of homeless teens is a personal one, having been homeless himself as a young gay man.
This month, the Thrive Youth Center is celebrating the fourth anniversary of the opening of their 1,400-square-foot facility at Haven for Hope that includes dorms, bathrooms, offices and a reception area.
Thrive’s clients also can avail themselves to Haven’s comprehensive range of social, spiritual, medical and behavioral health services. The goal is to create self-sufficiency and to work toward providing permanent housing opportunities.
“We’re fortunate to have Thrive Youth Center locally,” says Darke. “They are working hard to establish similar shelters in Dallas and the Valley, but there’s simply not enough beds for the need out there in San Antonio or the wider Texas region. My hope is to help provide the funds that allow them to expand their programs and assist more youth.”
This year, Just One Night will be opened with an address by Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Darke has added a chili and baked goods contest at the start of the evening to allow families with small children to participate even if they can’t sleep in the park for the night. The San Antonio Public Library will provide games and entertainment for the kids.
“While the event is lighthearted and a fun coming together of the community, the issue we’re trying to highlight is very serious,” Darke says. “I’m asking every San Antonio resident to consider spending Just One Night out in the rough so that maybe we can make a real difference in the lives of these kids and help them towards a better, brighter future.”
Just One Night, a benefit for the Thrive Youth Center, Saturday, April 6 from 6 p.m. to Sunday, April 7 at 6 a.m. Maverick Park, 1000 Broadway St. Use this link to register or donate.