Time Out Youth accepts a check and gift card from Lowe’s employees. (Photo Credit: Cox Media Group/WSOC-TV)

Towards the end of Pride Month, O’Neale Atkinson IV, Interim Executive Director of Charlotte’s Time Out Youth (TOY), took representatives from Lowe’s on a tour of the facilities. After continued communication with Lowe’s for an extended period, Atkinson was excited to show first-hand all of the changes that have been made during COVID-19. It came as a total surprise to Atkinson when the tour concluded with two giant checks featuring two large amounts. 

With a check for $15,000 and a Lowe’s gift card for $10,000, says Atkinson: “Our intention at Time Out Youth is to invest in services rather than just events. Over the past five to seven years, TOY has shifted our focus to mental health, employment and housing.” 

In 2020 alone, TOY put over 30 young adults into their first apartment or home. 

In addition to providing and arranging housing, Time Out Youth now provides “welcome home kits” to new homeowners and renters. These include household needs as simple as lamps or trash cans. “The Lowe’s gift cards will be incredibly useful for move-in day,” he adds.

Atkinson confirms that he and his colleagues are looking forward to working with each young adult in a manner that is geared to their specific needs and tastes. TOY plans to expand their focus on LGBTQ housing by using the Lowe’s check to provide aid with rental assistance and deposits. 

Next month he’ll be returning to his role as Deputy Director at Time Out Youth, as Sarah Mikhail steps into the position of Executive Director in August. Mikhail is a social worker who has a strong background in social work, youth outreach and housing advocacy. 

Atkinson voices high hopes for the future of TOY, soon-to-be Executive Director Mikhail and the future of ongoing community support. 

“The Time Out Youth building houses Transcend Charlotte as well as PFLAG Charlotte,” he explains. “I would love to see donations move into avenues for organizations like those.”

It should be noted that TOY did not apply for Lowe’s funding. “There are a lot of barriers for fledgling organizations,” Atkinson adds. “They could benefit from surprise funding as well.” 

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