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Shelter for homeless gay youths needs holiday miracle

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Time is running out for the Rainbow Home, intown Atlanta's only transitional housing program aimed specifically at gay teens.

The East Atlanta shelter learned in October that the $180,000 federal grant that provides more than half of the program's annual budget would not be renewed when it expires in January. Since then, the social-service agency that oversees Rainbow Home has managed to raise -- with the aid of friends and contributors -- an estimated $85,000 in cash and pledges.

But, unless the group is able to come up with the additional $95,000 in the next three weeks, the home will likely be forced to close its doors, says Kathy Colbenson, CEO of CHRIS Homes, which operates Rainbow Home.

"I gotta have the money to pay the staff and operate the home, and I can't operate month-to-month because that's not fair to the kids or to the staff, who'll be looking for other jobs," she says.

Recent fundraising events have been encouraging; a holiday-party benefit held over the weekend by a supporter took in $10,000. The Alliance Theatre is also donating a portion of its ticket sales from the Dec. 19 performance of A Christmas Carol, which could raise another $11,000.

But Colbenson is aware that the do-or-die deadline is fast approaching for the 3-year-old home, which has provided shelter, support and guidance for more than 80 runaway gay teens. The home could remain open at least through February with the money already raised.

For information about donating to Rainbow Home, go to www.chrishomes.org.

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