by Michele Horn Davis | As a fund raising professional, I go to a lot of LGBT benefits at this time of year, as Pride approaches. Two of my favorites were last week, Asian & Pacific Islanders Wellness Center’s “Bloom” and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) anniversary celebration. Both of these organizations do a great job of connecting the donors and supporters to the work that they do, and they both do it in a style all their own. At Out & Equal, we are very fortunate to be doing our work alongside other groups who are also dedicated to creating a world free from discrimination.
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center is a health services, education, research, and policy organization. Their mission is to educate, support, empower and advocate for Asian and Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities—particularly A&PIs living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.They have recently opened a free clinic that provides culturally competent and linguistically accessible primary health care, preventative care, and early intervention as well as behavioral health services.
For the past several years, API Wellness has held “Bloom” at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria and the event is a sensory experience. The tastes and smells of a variety of Asian foods from local restaurants permeate the space, and guests are surrounded by beautiful Asian artworks and textiles that are a part of the well thought out Silent Auction. The entertainment features local and national Asian artists, this year including the Rice Rockettes and hosted by the always fabulous Tita Aida. Last year they featured Ongina from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Lance Toma, the executive director, does a fantastic job of delivering the organization’s message in a way that doesn’t feel like an intrusion on the party, but yet, more of a friendly interlude. They make the donation process very simple by having roaming volunteers using innovative credit card swipers so the transaction is quick and easy. I look forward to this event every year, not only because of the celebratory aspect, but also because this is an organization that I believe in and support on a personal level.
NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.Their event for at least the past two years has been held at the Metreon in downtown San Francisco. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year, but I have been in years past, and it is THE party for the Lesbian community. Now, that is not to say that this is a party exclusively for Lesbians, guest include every aspect of the rainbow and gender spectrum….BUT the overwhelming majority of attendees are Lesbians and the buzz about the party starts months in advance. Kate Kendall and Kate Clinton host the event and do a fine job of presenting moving stories of the past year’s accomplishments with humor and grace. They are a fun team and really convey the best of who we are as women and community members. For me, this is the party where I get to connect with friends and colleagues from other non-profits. We get to dress up, hang out and celebrate while eating terrific food, and dancing the night away. I will definitely be there next year.
Like I said, I go to a lot of fundraising events, and I also volunteer at other non-profits. I don’t just do that for networking purposes, although that is an important part of what I do. I don’t just do it because it feels good to give back, even though it really does. I attend the events and volunteer because it is important to support and celebrate the work that we all do every day to help make this a better world, and I do it because I should.