Wanda Sykes to headline benefit for homeless lesbian, gay youth at Ruth Ellis Center

Meet Wanda Sykes at MOCAD benefit for gay, lesbian homeless

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. - The Ruth Ellis Center will host its second annual benefit, Voices with celebrity guest Wanda Sykes on Thursday, September 20th. 

Held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Voices celebrates the resilience of the more than 4,000 homeless, run away and at-risk lesbian, gay, attraction, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people the center helps annually.

"My first visit to the Ruth Ellis Center was one year ago, when I spent time with the youth at the Second Stories Drop-in Center," said Wanda Sykes. "I was moved by the youth's stories and strength, and impressed by the work the Ruth Ellis Center conducts to help improve their outcomes. It's exciting to have another opportunity to visit Detroit, spend time with the youth and continue supporting the Ruth Ellis Center at Voices.'

In addition to the chance to meet Wanda Sykes and hear her speak, the event will feature a silent auction of photographs taken by the youth from the Ruth Ellis Center. 

The youth trained with MOCAD staff to create 20 photographs that depict their perspectives on homelessness, sexual identity and love. 

The event will also include the results of the, End the Chill awareness and fundraising campaign and this year's recipients of the Ruth's Angels Award.

End the Chill launched on August 1st and is using images of the horrific conditions the LGBTQ homeless live in, to raise awareness of their need to create more safe spaces for the young people.

The goal is to raise $20,000 from donations at www.indiegogo.com, the money will go towards keeping the center's drop-in center open as a warming station during the winter.

The Ruth's Angels Award began last year and is given to individuals in the community who demonstrate dedication to helping provide safe space for homeless LGBTQ youth.

Two of the Ruth Ellis Center's founding and current board members, Dr. Kofi Adoma (Amorie Robinson) and John Allen, will receive this year's Ruth's Angels Award.  

Adoma, a clinical psychologist and Allen, a partner at Allen Brothers PLLC Law Firm, were instrumental in the formation of the Ruth Ellis Center in 1998. 

Wanda Sykes will officially announce the End the Chill results and award Adoma and Allen.

"This year's Voices is a wonderful representation of what drives the Ruth Ellis Center and the work we do to provide safe space and enrichment for our youth," said Laura Hughes, Ruth Ellis Center executive director. "It's a celebration of our youth's self expression, our organization's collaborations, our strong community supporters and the national attention that the Center has garnered this year.  This will be a very memorable event for our guests, but more importantly for our young people."

Tickets to Voices are $350 ($400 at the door) for the VIP reception, starting at 5:30 p.m., and include a meet and greet with Wanda Sykes and tours of MOCAD's current exhibitions; $175 ($225 at the door) and $75 for guests 30 and under for the reception, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.ruthelliscenter.org or by calling 313-252-1950