by Chris Hendrix
Youth First Texas was founded in 1999. Its mission statement was: Youth First Texas is the only non-profit organization in North Texas exclusively committed to providing social services, educational opportunities, and recreational activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning youth through the age of 22.
The history of Youth First Texas began with the Youth Services Advisory Panel (YSAP). YSAP was comprised of representatives from groups that worked with LGBTQ youth, including staff from Oak Lawn Community Services, and the Walt Whitman Community School, along with volunteers from the Cathedral of Hope, the Resource Center, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and PFLAG.
It was clear to these individuals that youth in the community were in need of services, but a quick overview of the existing LGBTQ agencies revealed that youth programming was not a priority. And, there was little to no money being set aside for youth programming. Through work with a consultant in the summer of 1999, it was decided that an organization whose mission was to provide youth services needed to be formed, and in November of 1999, Youth First Texas was incorporated.
The primary focus and work of the organization from is founding until its merger with Resource Center was to provide support and ‘family’ to LGBTQ youth in North Texas. In the coming out process, many youth are ostracized, or worse, and some are kicked out of their homes and harassed at school. The most important thing YFT did was to provde a ‘safe space’ for these youth and to support them into their adulthood.
YFT provided a true family for the LGBTQ youth that walked through its doors. Many of these youth were fully functional, some were partially functional, and some were not functional at all and even suicidal. Through its work, many youths found, for the first time, a true family and non-judgemental support. The organization saved the lives of many LGBTQ youth.
Timeline of Youth First Texas
§ 1990’s - Bob Miskinis, Daryl Parker, Bob Ivancic and Emilia Menthe volunteering time to GLBTQ youth programs
§ Summer 1999 - Met with Consultant, John Eger, to discuss how several groups from several different organizations could come together and provide comprehensive services for GLBTQ youth.
§ September 1999 - Decided that the only way to provide comprehensive services to GLBTQ youth is to create a separate organization whose sole mission is to GLBTQ youth.
§ November 1999 - Incorporated. Board of Directors included Daryl Parker, Bob Miskinis, Emilia Menthe, Bob Ivancic
§ November 1999 - First strategic board retreat; created mission statement.
§ January 2000 - Hired Larry Craine. Received 501(c)3 status. Fundraising concert with The Woman’s Chorus of Dallas and The Turtle Creek Chorale with special guest speaker, Judy Shepherd
§ October 2000 - Trip to Washington DC for NYAC youth leadership conference (11 youth)
§ November 2000 - Formation of Drama Group “Out There Productions”
§ December 2000 - Began training series to Dallas Independent School District’s Youth and Family Center Directors
§ January 2001 - Received ownership of OUTYouth Dallas group from DGLA
§ April 2001 - Birth of Youth Leadership Board
§ August 2001 - Agreement with Cathedral of Hope to use 5804 Cedar Springs as YFT Youth Center
§ September 2001 - Grand Opening of YFT Youth Center
§ September 2001- Received 3 year collaborative grant to identify HIV+ youth and get them into treatment
§ March 2002 - Dave Norfleet named Interim ED
§ September 2002 - First entry in the Pride Parade
§ September 2002 - First High School Age Support Group
§ November 2002 - Moved to leased space at 5415 Maple Ave, Suite 221 at Maple and Butler.
§ November 2002 - Grand Opening of new Youth Center
§ February 2003 - First Transgender Youth Group
§ May 2003 - Received Dallas Women’s Foundation Grant
§ 2004 - Black Tie Dinner Beneficiary for 1st time
§ April 2005 - Hired Bob Miskinis as Program Director
§ May 2005 - Doubled space at 5415 Maple Ave
§ February 2008 - Hired Judith Dumont as Director of Administration
§ Summer 2009 - Co-founder & Director of Programs Bob Miskinis leaves YFT.
§ November 2009 - YFT moves into its new Youth Center at 3918 Harry Hines Blvd in Dallas.
§ June 2013 - YFT enters into an agreement with Resource Center Dallas to assume the programming and space of Youth First Texas.