Local briefs • 09.17.10

2nd annual Great Gatsby party benefiting AIN is Sept. 26

AIDS Interfaith Network presents the second annual “Great Gatsby … Get Your Flap On” fundraising party on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Union Station, 400 S. Houston St. in downtown Dallas.

Tickets are $75, available online at AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org. Proceeds benefit the client service programs at AIN. Those persons who get their Roaring ’20s attire for the party at Norcostco or Gratitude can receive a 10 percent discount on costume rentals.

Stonewall Young Democrats to hold Red Party benefiting Legacy

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats will hold their second annual Red Party on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. at ilume to raise money for Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage.

Bartenders from Bar 10 will be serving. Tickets for the Red Party are $10 and available at the door. VIP tickets for a catered party are $30, available on line at LegacyCounseling.org.

Sharon St. Cyr Fund holding Hear Our Pride benefit party

The Sharon St. Cyr Fund will hold the Hear Our Pride event to benefit Hearing from the Heart on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel at Love Field. The fund raises money to buy hearing aids for the hearing impaired.

Last year’s Mr. International Leather Jeffrey Payne of Dallas and this year’s titleholder, Tyler McCormick, will attend. Comedian Paul J. Williams will entertain.

Tickets for the event are $45 and available on line at SSCFund.com. Dinner and entertainment are included.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Activist (and hottie) Travis Gasper to return to Dallas as development director for AIDS Interfaith

Travis Gasper

Travis Gasper, founding president of the current chapter of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats and a Dallas Voice “Future Pioneer,” is returning to Dallas from Colorado to accept a position as director of development for AIDS Interfaith Network, he told Instant Tea in an e-mail Wednesday.

Gasper, a Colorado native, left Dallas last December to run a newly created nonprofit in Denver that engages business leaders as advocates for early childhood programs. Gasper says he’ll be moving back to Dallas in a few weeks.

“I just happened to find out about the position when I was in town last month, and it was great timing since I had gotten to know the organization last year when we were fighting the city’s HIV/AIDS budget cuts,” Gasper writes. “The experience of starting a new organization has been great, and we have great board members and funders, but I miss friends and family and Dallas in general.”


—  John Wright

Nightclub hopes to repeat success with fundraiser

Nightclub hopes to repeat success with fundraiser Annual Steve Machart Benefit for AIN raised more than $20,000 for AIDS service organization in ’09

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

ON THE AUCTION BLOCK  |  Pekers raised $20,000 for AIDS Interfaith Network last year with the Steve Machart Benefit, and bar owner Frank Holland hopes to surpass that mark this year with auction items that include jewelry donated by Heritage Auction Galleries, a flat-panel plasma TV and more.
ON THE AUCTION BLOCK | Pekers raised $20,000 for AIDS Interfaith Network last year with the Steve Machart Benefit, and bar owner Frank Holland hopes to surpass that mark this year with auction items that include jewelry donated by Heritage Auction Galleries, a flat-panel plasma TV and more.

On Saturday, Sept. 11 Pekers holds its fourth annual Steve Machart Benefit for AIDS Interfaith Network.

Last year, they raised more than $20,000 for the organization. Bar owner Frank Holland said he planned to top that amount this year.

To do that, he has been working with local businesses to donate items for a silent auction. He said the Heritage Auction Galleries has been particularly generous with a variety of jewelry. Among the items donated were two women’s and one man’s diamond rings, a diamond tennis bracelet and jade rings.

“We’ll be raffling a 47-inch flat panel plasma TV,” Holland said. “And we have some beautiful oriental prints from Japan.”

He said DeNovo and Salon 2121 donated facials and haircuts and restaurants including Rafa’s and Breadwinners donated gift certificates.

Among the performers participating are Trixie Lynn, the current Miss Pekers, Reva Dena, popular performer from Friends in Gun Barrel City and Robert Olivas, a runner-up in this year’s Voice of Pride competition.

Holland said AIDS Interfaith Network has been touched by budget cuts more than other AIDS agencies. Since the bar opened three years ago, he estimates that fundraisers at Pekers have collected about $150,000 for the agency that provides transportation services including Care-A-Van service, a meals program and the adult day-care Howie Daire Center.

Holland said he named the annual event after the man who “was my best friend for more than 40 years [and who] died a horrible death from AIDS.”

The silent auction begins at 8 p.m. and the Holland said they would be raising money until midnight.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Midway Hills begins capital campaign

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Roger Wedell
Roger Wedell

Midway Hills Christian Church has kicked off a capital campaign to raise $400,000 to renovate and update the facility. Spokesman Tom Peck called it an “express campaign” to raise the money in August.

Campaign co-chair Roger Wedell said the total goal was $900,000 and the improvements would help the church better serve the community.
The church has a long history of welcoming the LGBT community. In the 1970s, Midway Hills was one of only four Dallas congregations to co-host a program on churches and homosexuality.

Midway Hills was one of the original rehearsal spaces for the Turtle Creek Chorale, and fFor more than 15 years, the church hosted P-FLAG.

Early in the AIDS crisis, Midway Hills met the challenge when other churches shunned people with AIDS or ignored the problem. It was one of the first churches to form an AIDS Interfaith Network care team.

Wedell said the renovations to the building would create more flexible spaces.

“We hope to accommodate a wider variety of groups in the community,” he said. “And a wider variety of worship and contemporary expressions.”
Rather than fixed pews, the main sanctuary would have modular seating and the chancel would be moveable

“We have a long tradition of incorporating music,” said Wedell. The new configuration would make it easier to incorporate those elements, he said.

“The current entrance to the sanctuary will converted into a new chapel,” he said.

Also in the plans is reconfiguring the entrance.

“Right now, it’s difficult to know what door you should use,” Wedell said.

He said the new main entrance would be handicap accessible. The current front entrance does not meet federal standards.
That entrance will open to a large gathering space for displays, small group use and fellowship.

Wedell said the building is already booked four nights a week. He said the church hosts English as a second language classes, 12-step programs and a square dance group, among others. He said he couldn’t think of a group affiliated with the church that didn’t include LGBT members.

The church had its start in the 1950s and has always been located at its current Midway Road location just north of Royal Lane. At the time, there was lots of open space in the area and large tracts of land were just being developed for housing.

The church is a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination. Wedell explained that congregations in the denomination have a national affiliation but strong local control. He called it the oldest indigenous U.S. Protestant denomination, formed in the 1800s from a merger of several smaller movements.
“As a small denomination, we’ve been involved far beyond our numbers in ecumenical work,” he said.

The congregation has about 200 active members.

“It all goes back to the vision our original members had for the church,” Peck said, “to make an impact far beyond the walls of the church.”

When Dallas first desegregated its school, members of Midway Hills voted to bus their own children. During the Vietnam War, the church became a Shalom or “peace” Congregation, and it was involved with resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Midway helped settle Afghan refugees.

“We helped them with housing and getting stabilized in the community,” Peck said.

In addition to its own congregation, a Peace Mennonite church hold services in the building early on Sunday morning and a new Latino congregation is also using the facility.

To raise the initial $400,000 and eventual $900,000 for additional renovations including resurfacing the parking lot, redesign of the peace garden, remodeling the restrooms and retrofitting the fire protection system, church leaders hope to reach out to the broader community.

“We’re contacting people and organizations we consider to be friends,” Wedell said. And over the years, the church has developed lots of friends.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

ASOs pleased with Obama’s AIDS strategy

Service providers are optimistic about holistic approach, but want to see the money to back up plan

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Raeline Nobles

The White House’s new National AIDS Strategy, released July 13, is getting good reviews from AIDS service organizations in North Texas.

The policy includes plans on how to reduce new infections, how to increase access to health care and how to improve the outcome for people living with HIV. It takes a holistic approach to AIDS, bringing resources from around the community together and recognizing the need for transportation, food and housing as well as medical treatment.

Its goals also include eliminating the stigma still attached to HIV/AIDS.

“This White House is more systemic,” said Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms. “[They know that] when one part of the system is weak, the entire system breaks down. You have to reach out into the greater community.”

Nobles noted the focus on reducing the infection rate by 25 percent.

“I think the strategy is very aggressive,” she said. “A 25 percent drop is a huge drop.”

Still, she wondered how the plan would be funded.

“Healthcare reform will provide some answers, but not until 2014 and that’s a long time in the middle of an epidemic,” she said.

Steven Pace, executive director of AIDS Interfaith Network, said “What I hope emerges is renewed outreach and prevention because those were so destroyed under the Bush administration.”

And Don Maison, president and CEO of AIDS services of Dallas commended the plan’s “recognition of the importance of housing for overall health. … Housing has the attention of policymakers and is included for the first time.”

Maison attended a White House meeting in December with Jeffrey S. Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Four assistants to the president, officials from HUD and the Health Resources and Services Administration also attended.

When Maison read how their concerns were addressed in the strategy, he said he was delighted they were listening.

Nobles also was impressed with the process by which the administration put the strategy together.

She said that at least once every other week she received an e-mail asking her opinion.

Steve Dutton, executive director of Samaritan House in Fort Worth, pointed out three things he especially liked about the strategy.

“It’s important that housing is integrated into the plan,” he said. “I like the call to educating all Americans about the disease. And prevention is more than just condoms.”

He said this was the first administration that gathered information from experts and used that to formulate a strategy. He said he was impressed by the call for federal agencies to work closely with local agencies.

Like other agency directors, Dutton worried about funding.

He said the president made it clear in his executive summary of the document that this is not a budget document.

“But it clearly establishes national priorities,” Dutton said. “That’s very impressive. It’s been a long time since leadership asked people on the street, ‘What do you think?’”

Bret Camp from Nelson Tebedo Clinic was cautiously optimistic.

“It’s good that we finally have a plan,” he said. “I would like to see money behind it.”

Camp liked the idea of collaboration among faith-based groups, government agencies, the medical community and service organizations.

“That makes the continuum of prevention services seamless,” he said.

Camp pointed to the Stomp Out Syphilis program at Resource Center Dallas that works well with faith-based organizations throughout the community.
“The state holds that program up as a model,” he said.

Allan Gould, executive director of AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth, said the plan had the right goals for halting the spread of HIV. He said that over the last five to 10 years, most people acted as though the AIDS epidemic was over, but, “AIDS is still a huge problem.”

Gould said that the two things to watch are how the plan is implemented and where the money is coming from. The federal government funds Tarrant County and other areas with fewer than 2,000 cases of AIDS differently than cities like Dallas with more people infected with HIV.

“Small agencies will close,” Gould said.

But his reading of the strategy is that it is a fresh approach.

“It’s a health issue, not a moral issue,” he said. “The plan takes a holistic approach.”

He said the president sounded pragmatic when he announced the strategy, admitting he didn’t have all the answers.

Gould said that for the first time, ASOs wouldn’t have to wait for a change in administration to get rid of a policy or an approach that isn’t working.
But Gould laughed at one of the main goals — to reduce the stigma of AIDS.

He said you can’t tell people how to think, but he thought it was better to have that as policy than not.

Getting the prevention message out there once again, Gould said, was among the most important pieces of the new plan.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas Bears give big

Steven Pace, center, executive director of AIDS Interfaith Network, accepts a check from the Dallas Bears during the group’s annual banquet in June at Celebration Restaurant on Lovers Lane in Dallas. The Bears distributed $38,000 raised from the Texas Bear Round-Up (TBRU) held in March. Of that, $19,000 went to Youth First Texas, and $9,500 each to Legacy Founders Cottage and AIDS Interfaith Network. The 2010 TBRU not only set an all-time record for attendees (more than 1,200 people), the $38,000 raised is a club record for beneficiary donations.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 9, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

AIDS Interfaith Bloomin Ball 2010

Damon Frazier of Frazier Photography and Video sent over these shots he took April 24 during the AIDS Interfaith Network’s Bloomin’ Ball, at the Westin Park Central.

AIDS Interfaith Bloomin Ball 3AIDS Interfaith Bloomin Ball 2AIDS Interfaith Bloomin Ball

—  Dallasvoice