Designing for a Cause
BY Layla Dhere
July 14 2009 12:00 AM ET
Acclaimed interior designer David Phoenix attributes his success to the man who mentored him as a teen.
"He took me under his wing after I ran away from home, and I attribute a lot of my success to him," Phoenix says. "I think everyone needs a role model, and that's how I've tried to live my life."
Accustomed to designing interiors for the rich and famous, Phoenix now has a very different project on his hands -- designing an after-school space for the LGBT youth mentoring program LifeWorks.
Phoenix was introduced to the Los Angeles nonprofit in 2006 through a close friend, LifeWorks board president Chip Sullivan. While previously unfamiliar with the program, Phoenix immediately got intensely involved after cochairing an event for the center.
"Once I got into it and saw some of the mentees, it was a no-brainer for me."
LifeWorks was started in 2002 by Garrison Smith and Michael Ferrera, who met while working for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. They believe in helping LGBT teens in five areas of their development: home, health, education, career, and personal development. It's one of a a few gay and lesbian centers specifically for LGBT youths, which Phoenix says is what makes the program significant.