AIN’s ‘Great Gatsby’ fundraiser offers attendees a trip to the past

Posted on 11 Jun 2009 at 7:16pm
By David Taffet Staff Writer

Roaring ’20s set to come to life for event at Dallas’ Union Station

‘Great Gatsby’ benefit for AIN
WHAT: ‘The Great Gatsby: Get Your Flap On’
WHERE: Union Station, 400 S. Houston St., Dallas
WHEN: Sunday, June 14, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Sponsor tickets, $120; general admission, $75
MORE INFORMATION: www.aidsinterfaithnetwork.org.

"The afternoon is an escape back to the ’20s when all things were decadent," says Blake Peery, development manager of AIDS Interfaith Network, about this weekend’s "Great Gatsby: Get Your Flap On" event at Union Station in downtown Dallas.

On Sunday afternoon, June 14, the Grand Hall upstairs at Union Station will be converted into a Roaring ’20s speakeasy: Art deco decor, event staff dressed as flappers and mob bosses in raccoon coats and butlers serving "bathtub gin" will evince the era of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

"Wolfgang Puck has put together a great menu for us," Peery says. But this will not be a sit-down dinner. He envisions the event as very fluid.

Pick up something to eat at a food station, "sit for a few minutes at a sponsor’s table and then move on," is how Peery describes the ambiance of the afternoon.

Music provided by Hunter Sullivan and his band will be interspersed with vaudeville acts throughout the afternoon. Flamenco dancers, tap and censored burlesque are among those scheduled. Those attending will be able to sit for a portrait or enjoy a hand-rolled cigar. A casino will be open through the afternoon.

D’Andra C. Simmons, founder of Hard Night Good Morning Skin Care and Cosmetics and vice president of Ultimate Living International, chairs the event. She became involved with AIN through a cousin, who started her social work career with the agency.

Proceeds benefit a number of the agency’s programs, including meals, which suffered cuts in federal funding in 2008, and outreach, which is expected to lose city support with upcoming budget cuts. Manos Unidas and the African American Health Coalition, which target minority at-risk populations throughout the Dallas area, are also likely to lose city funding.

"Through events and grants, we have continued feeding those most in need," Peery says. AIN serves 20,000 meals a year. He says that 48 percent of their clients are homeless or in transition and 98 percent of their clients live on $700 a month or less.

In addition, AIN provides 600-800 DART passes a month and van service for people in Ellis, Navarro, Henderson and Van Zandt counties.

"The Great Gatsby" is a first-time event, planned to supplement the agency’s tight budget. Peery expects to reach the goal of 300 guests. Period costume is encouraged but not required. Valet parking is available.

E-mail taffet@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 12, 2009.

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