Twenty-four-year-old Chaunteion Hall is the newest—and only the second—staff member at Montrose Grace Place (MGP).
“I did my internship at Montrose Grace Place,” she says. “I had no idea about it before that. It seemed like such a really chill place; I felt right at home.”
Montrose Grace Place was founded by members of the former Grace Lutheran Church (now known as Kindred Montrose) in 2009 to provide a haven for homeless youth of any sexual orientation or gender identity. It became a separate nonprofit in 2011, and today holds youth nights twice weekly at 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Youth between 13 and 24 can enjoy a family-style dinner, group activities, nonjudgmental peer discussion groups, and access to clothing, toiletries, and other needed supplies.
Hall is a native of New Orleans who graduated from Dillard University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She came to Houston to get her master’s degree.
“Coming from New Orleans, I wanted a city with culture and places I could explore,” Hall says. “And the University of Houston had an excellent master’s plan focusing on social work.”
After graduating, she started her work at Montrose Grace Place last August and has found her work as the nonprofit’s program director very fulfilling.
“I feel like I’m just hanging out—maybe because the youth are so close to me in age,” she says. “Basically, I facilitate youth nights and help connect them to other resources in Houston. And I lead the Youth Voices and Power meetings on Thursdays. The youth are passionate about LGBTQ+ rights and child advocacy. Plus, it’s given me the chance to partner with other agencies in Montrose to advocate for youth.”
Hall is passionate about empowering youth at MGP to live their most authentic lives and gain access to resources that they have been denied because of homelessness, homophobia, or transphobia.
Besides her work, she also loves discovering the city.
“Houston gives me a lot to explore,” Hall says. “I love the Montrose area because it has so much personality, and I love being outside in the parks and taking pictures wherever I go. There is so much green space, and yet you’re in the heart of the city.
“I also love going to poetry nights, artist pop-up shows, and food and cultural festivals. I just went to an African cultural festival that was wonderful.”
She’s also discovered Houston’s Black-owned restaurants and the soul-food scene here. But there’s one food that has particularly caught her heart.
“I loved the street tacos in New Orleans,” she admits, “but the taco trucks here are amazing. I go to taco trucks all around town. Restaurant tacos just can’t compare to tacos from a taco truck.”
Currently single (and enjoying it), Hall lives with her black-and-white Shih Tzu, Mia. They’ve practically grown up together, and Hall says she still has a lot of attitude for a dog who is over ten years old.
Hall is happily exploring her new city while she continues working at Montrose Grace Place. “I want to continue to learn about the LGBTQ+ youth and their issues,” she says. “Every youth night at Montrose Grace Place is a melting pot of people and experiences. It’s always a different vibe. I love that I don’t know what each night will bring.”
For more info, visit montrosegraceplace.org.
This article appears in the January 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.