Ruth Ellis Center

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Ruth Ellis Center
Ruth Ellis Center logo
Ruth Ellis Center logo
FocusRunaway, homeless and at-risk LGBT youth
Area served
Southeast Michigan
ServicesDrop-in center, Street Outreach Program, transitional living, and emergency housing shelter
Key people
Jerry Peterson, executive director[1][2]
Wanda Sykes
Wanda Sykes has been a public supporter of Ruth Ellis Center since 2010

The Ruth Ellis Center is a Detroit area social services agency that serves the needs of runaway, homeless and at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Among their services are a drop-in center, Street Outreach Program, foster home, and Health and Wellness Center. The center is named after Ruth Ellis in honor of her allowing her home to serve as a refuge for African American gays and lesbians as early as the 1930s.[3][4] Wanda Sykes is an outspoken supporter of the organization after the staff sent her a letter asking her to visit during her 2010 tour's stop in Detroit.[5][6][7]


The Ruth Ellis Center operates three programs.[2][7][8]

Ruth’s House[edit]

Residential housing program for LGBT youth[2] ages 12–17 who are in the foster care or juvenile justice system. The youth are referred from the Michigan Department of Human Services, Wayne County Child and Family Services, other Michigan agencies statewide, and youth supervising programs in other states.[9]

The program includes the following services:

Second Stories Drop-In Center[edit]

Provides basic services and safe space for youth and young adults ages 14 to 24.[8] Services and resources include full meals, gender identity support groups, laundry facility and clothing, a cyber-center, and recreation.[2]

Second Stories Outpatient Mental Health Services[edit]

Provides mental health outpatient services to LGBT youth.


A group of community activists - including John Allen and Kofi Adoma[10] - founded Ruth Ellis Center in 1999,[7] the same year Ruth Ellis was celebrating her 100th birthday. The founders chose to call the program the Ruth Ellis Center in recognition of all the youth Ellis had helped. In September 2000, a 101-year-old Ellis attended the grand opening of the center's first phase, a drop-in center for at-risk youth.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Welch, Sherri (June 18, 2013). "Ruth Ellis Center names new executive director". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Proxmire, Crystal (June 27, 2013). "Fresh From California: Ruth Ellis Welcomes New Executive Director". Between the Lines. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  3. ^ Kathleen Wilkinson (October 9, 2000). "Ruth Ellis". Curve. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
  4. ^ a b Michael, Jason (February 3, 2005). "Ruth Ellis: A century worth of history". Between the Lines. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  5. ^ "Wanda Sykes visits Ruth Ellis Center". Between the Lines. July 8, 2010. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  6. ^ Mercer, Monica (September 2012). "Q&A: Wanda Sykes, Ruth Ellis Center Fundraiser Host". Hour Detroit.
  7. ^ a b c Broverman, Neal (October 4, 2012). "Detroit's Invaluable LGBT Youth Center Has a Friend in Wanda". The Advocate. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "About Ruth Ellis Center". Ruth Ellis Center. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  9. ^ "Ruth's House". Ruth Ellis Center. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  10. ^ Michael, Jason (February 17, 2005). "Kofi Adoma: Creating history one organization at a time". Between the Lines. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2013.

External links[edit]