Many LGBT nonprofits can use your money Thursday

Every year, DonorBridgeTX.org helps extend your charitable donation even further with A Day to Donate: North Texas Giving Day. Here’s how it works: On Thursday, Sept. 13, for every donation to a nonprofit organization of $25, a portion of your contribution will be matched by the organization. That could potentially double your donation. And since many of the 1,000 official nonprofits on the list have ties to the gay community, you can do something really wonderful.

Some of the registered charitable groups serve the HIV/AIDS community, including AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Outreach Center, Bryan’s House, Legacy Counseling Center and AIDS Services of Dallas. Others are involved in arts and culture, including the Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, Uptown Players, WaterTower Theatre, Theatre 3 and the Van Cliburn Foundation. Still others simply work to make life better for those among us, like Meals on Wheels, the Fort Worth Zoo, Friends of the Katy Trail, Lambda Legal, Legal Hospice of Texas, Operation Kindness and KNON and KERA.

Frankly, we wouldn’t know how to choose just one. But you should.

Times are tight now, but they are tight for nonprofits, too. Click here to load DonorBridgeTx.org‘s  web page and find the nonprofit(s) you’d like to support. Then give $25 or more and see your contribution multiply.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

AIDS funding pioneer Pallotta to speak Friday

No one disputes that Dan Pallotta was a pioneer in raising awareness about AIDS and HIV, organizing the California AIDSRide from 1992 to 2002, as well as North Texas’ AIDS ride from 1999 to 2001. It was around that time Pallotta started taking flak for not spending resources well; he was roundly criticized for spending $400,000 to raise $1 million, a ratio most contributors to charity found off-balance. But while Pallotta stopped fundraising for those organizations, he didn’t exactly take the criticism lying down. In 2010, he published Uncharitable, a book that argued there are two rules (those for charities, and those for businesses) and that non-profits should be more entrepreneurial in order to be more competitive … and, presumably, bring in more capital. In short, he says the question “What percentage of my contribution goes to charity?” is outmoded thinking. He’s speaking about this divisive issue at Dallas Social Venture Partners’ Social Innovation Luncheon Series, which will be held at the Tower Club inside Thanksgiving Tower on Friday, April 13. The lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at DSVP.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

Give thanks, give help

AIN is a small agency with a small budget — and they need all the volunteers they can get

With just over two weeks left before Thanksgiving, each of us has plenty of time to decide what we are going to give thanks for. And where. And how.
I decided I would give thanks for my health, happiness and longevity by making a modest monthly donation to AIDS Interfaith Network in honor of two very good friends who died in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

One, Barnaby, used to coax me out to one of two or three New York LGBT bars whenever I started feeling sorry for myself for working long hours. After he got a law degree in his 30s, and I got a job here in Dallas, he took me out for pricey lunches and dinners on my trips back to New York. And he called me just to talk the week before he died.

Guest.Phyllis

Phyllis Guest -Taking Notes

The other, Steven, was my boss at one job, my associate at another, and a quiet joy to be around. When we made a corporate move from New York to Dallas, and I could not make up my mind on a condo, he let me sleep in his spare bedroom for most of a month. And when he got sick, we were close until he could no longer speak.

But why did I choose AIN rather than one of the other nonprofits dealing with HIV/AIDS? Three reasons:

First, AIN was one of four organizations that lost money in September 2009, when the city of Dallas cut $325,000 from funding for HIV/AIDS outreach, prevention and education programs. Shortly after, the city received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, but that went to a new city program, none to AIN.

AIN lost an entire program aimed at preventing infection among young, high-risk males. As you know, infections among this group are still soaring.

Second, on a 9/11 Day of Service, I joined other Stonewall Democrats of Dallas in working at AIN. We did nothing daunting — some cooked; others served the food; still others washed dishes. I just picked up used plates, wiped tables and poured water.

But what an eye-opener! These clients are the poorest of the poor, many of them homeless. AIN serves breakfast and lunch five days a week — a total of 26,000 meals a year. Without AIN, most would have no food, no transportation (bus passes), no water when it’s hot, no bedding when it’s cold.
Third, AIN is smaller and somewhat less well-known than other nonprofits serving the many individuals living with HIV/AIDS or in danger of becoming infected. When it was more fully funded by the city, state and federal governments, it had a staff of more than 30; now a baker’s dozen of staff and variable numbers of volunteers try to pick up the slack. All volunteers get a choice of chores.

Right now, a prime need is for an Internet guru — a person who knows the ins and outs of and enjoys emailing, posting on Facebook, Tweeting the latest news, etc. Some staffers are rather Internet savvy, but they lack the time and the fine-tuned skills to turn social media into a recruiting and fundraising tool.

Another need is for a community activist who can set up a monthly “Saturday Night Live @ Daire Center” for 2012. Each SNL evening involves providing an early dinner for 30 or so clients, plus light entertainment such as music or board games. Church, mosque and synagogue social action groups know how to do this, as do many political, professional and community clubs.

A third need is for a different kind of community activist, one who can represent AIN at city events, shows, fundraisers and the like. This is perfect for someone who has a varied wardrobe and a love of nightlife. Anytime there is a chance to mention good works, the AIN rep should be on hand to reach out and speak up.

A host of other volunteer jobs are available. Because I lack the above special talents and am neither a cook nor a carpenter, I will probably end up turning handwritten notes into computer files or sorting donated items into manageable piles. That will be my way of giving thanks for the two dear friends who died and the many who remain.

To outdo me — you know you can — call Travis Gasper at 214-943-4444 or email him at tgasper@aidsinterfaithnetwork.org.
Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Memphis LGBT center struggling

From staff and wire reports

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A nonprofit center that has provided services to gays and lesbians in Memphis for 22 years is facing possible closure.

Like other nonprofits struggling in the weak economy, the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is seeing fewer donations and grant opportunities. It already has cut back its $125,000 budget.

Board chairwoman Christy Tweddle told The Memphis Daily News that even laying off the executive director would not save enough money to keep the center open for long.

The center was founded in 1989 by a group of citizens who wanted to make Memphis safer for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community members. They also hoped to foster an environment of acceptance and equality.

The center offers several programs including free HIV testing and sexual health counseling, referrals, education and community outreach.

Although the center is partially funded by grants, much of that money is restricted to use on specific programs, Tweddle said.

“We rely on community and individual donations to do things like pay the executive director and the basic bills, and to basically keep the center open,” she said.

Tennessee Equality Project board chairman Jonathan Cole, who is a former board member at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, said the nonprofit’s youth programs are at the heart of its work.

Cole said he knows a young man who was thrown out of his home by a parent due to his sexual orientation and was rejected by several shelters.

The center can provide temporary food, shelter and clothing for youth with no place to go, he said.

“Sadly, because many in our community don’t really understand GLBT kids and turn them out into the world, they’re often left quite vulnerable at an age where, without some social support from adults, they’re not going to succeed in life,” Cole said. “You may not access these services yourself, but there are people in this community who desperately need it. It will be a travesty for the center to close for lack of funding.”

A fundraising drive seeks to raise $45,000 by the end of May.

For more on the center or to make a donation, go here.

—  John Wright

Hope for the future: Another youngster speaks up for LGBT equality

Malcolm and his letter

Back in November, 2009, then 10-year-old Will Phillips of West Fork, Ark., made headlines around the country when he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance with the rest of his classmates because the pledge includes the phrase “with liberty and justice for all,” and Will knew that LGBT Americans aren’t really guaranteed that liberty and justice.

Now, a 7-year-old named Malcolm is speaking out for LGBT equality, and putting his money where his mouth is.

Recently, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center received an envelope containing a $70 donation and a hand-written note that read: “I am sending you this money because I don’t think it’s fair that gay people are not treated equally.” It was signed, “Malcolm.”

There was another note with the donation, this one from Malcolm’s mom. She explained that in an effort to help Malcolm learn the importance of helping improve the world around him, he had been given $140 to donate to the charity of his choice. And when Malcolm heard a story on the radio about LGBT people being mistreated, he got so upset that he decided he would donate his money to LGBT causes.

Malcolm chose to split his his $140, giving half to the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the other half to the Human Rights Campaign.

We all know that nonprofits of all stripes always need money. But they — and all of us, in fact — also always need hope. Malcolm gave the Gay and Lesbian Center and the HRC both. And he gave hope to all of us.

—  admin

Art Conspiracy marks six years tonight

These are the good kind of Con men

The Art Conspiracy people call what they do street-level philanthropy. We call it greatness. This year’s lineup was filled in 13 minutes. That may be a record. The annual event raises money for nonprofits with this year’s proceeds going to Today Marks the Beginning which educates children on non-violence through art. If that’s not enough, then the reasonably priced art and local live bands will make the night more worthwhile. Local gay artist Robb Conover, pictured, is among the artists featuring work.

DEETS: Art Con Warehouse, 511 W. Commerce St. 7 p.m. $10. ArtConspiracy.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Can Razzle Dazzle be revived?

Group of business owners, nonprofit reps call for meeting to set up board, discuss options for reinstating Dallas’ June Pride event

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Scott Whittall
Scott Whittall

More than 25 years ago, organizers for Dallas’ gay Pride parade moved the event from its original Gay Pride Month date in June to September in recognition of an early court ruling striking down the state’s sodomy law.

Even after that ruling was overturned, parade organizers decided to keep the parade in September, in part to escape the oppressive heat of the North Texas summers.

But that was OK, because Dallas still had Razzle Dazzle Dallas to celebrate Gay Pride Month every June.

Razzle Dazzle Dallas had been held at the Dallas city impound lot, at Fair Park, at Market Center — and it finally ended up as a street party on Cedar Springs. It featured DJs, live music performances, vendor booths, informational booths and, of course, beer, food and lots of dancing.

It was the party of the summer.

But by the turn of the 21st century, Razzle had begun to lose some of its dazzle. Attendance dropped; profits dropped, and costs soared. The last Razzle Dazzle party was held in June 2004.

But while the party may be gone, it has not been forgotten. Now, a group of business owners and nonprofit representatives are working to bring it back.

“There are a lot of different nonprofits and business owners, both on and off the Cedar Springs strip, who have been talking about it,” Scott Whittall, owner of Buli Café and president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said this week.

Whittall said the idea of reviving Razzle Dazzle first surfaced a few months ago when he, Brick owner Howard Okon, Jimmy Bartlett and Resource Center Dallas’ Henry Ramirez “started kicking the idea around.”

He said, “A lot of people talk about the fact that we love having our Pride parade in September, but at the same time, we feel like we are missing out on June Pride. I, for one, think we have the greatest LGBT community in the world here in Dallas, and there should be a good reason for people to come to Dallas in June to celebrate Pride. Razzle Dazzle used to be that reason. And it will be again.”

Whittall said that the core group has had several exploratory meetings, “asking questions like ‘Can we do it again? Should we do it again? Is there enough interest to revive Razzle Dazzle?’”

The answer, he said, seems to be a definite yes.

“I don’t think I have talked to even one person who didn’t get excited when they just heard the words ‘Razzle Dazzle.’ Everyone has their own memories of Razzle Dazzles from the past, and everyone so far loves the idea of bringing it back,” Whittall said.

Now they want to bring the idea to the community and get as much input as possible. To that end, there will be a meeting Thursday, Oct. 28, and every local organization, nonprofit, church, business, sports team and Pride organization is invited to send representatives.

“We have held off on putting an actual board together. Hopefully we can do that at this next meeting,” Whittall said.

“But we want it to be a good mix of nonprofits and business owners and organizations who are willing to commit to making this happen. If enough people get excited about it, if enough people come to this meeting and make the commitment, we can make it happen.”

Whittall said “nothing is set in stone yet,” but those who have been discussing the idea have already come up with a general plan for a new, revitalized and expanded Razzle Dazzle Dallas. “We all remember what worked and what didn’t work, and having that in mind, we have some ideas.

First and foremost, it has to be what it was always meant to be — a charity event. Everything that is raised has to go back to the charities that work to make it happen.

“We understand that this first year will be all about pulling it together and getting it going again. But we also believe that we can put together a great event that will just keep getting better,” he said.

In the past, Razzle Dazzle Dallas was a one-night fundraising party. But Whittall and his cohorts have envisioned something much bigger for Razzle Dazzle’s rebirth, taking it from a one-night dance party to a five-day celebration.

“Cedar Springs is still the hub, the heart of the LGBT community in Dallas. But we have LGBT communities spread out everywhere now,” Whittal said.

“We want the party to include everyone.”

Tentative plans have the new Razzle Dazzle taking place in the first week of June 2011, starting with First Wednesday Night on Cedar Springs. Then the party would move south the next day for First Thursday in the Bishop Arts district.

On Friday night, there would be an organized “bar-hopping” party featuring LGBT clubs both on the Cedar Springs strip and elsewhere. During the day on Saturday would feature a street festival on Cedar Springs, building up for the big bang on Saturday night.

Plans are to have the Saturday night party held at an indoor event venue with dancing, booths from community organizations and possibly a separate live cabaret show, with shuttle transportation provided to and from the city’s various centers of LGBT nightlife.

“Saturday night would be the big event, of course, but we want to take it even a step further and have some sort family event, a picnic or something, in the park on Sunday to wind everything up,” Whittall said. “We think it is a great idea, and we really hope everyone else will think so, too.

“For those who really remember Razzle Dazzle, we think it’s time to bring it back,” he continued.

“We’re living in good times right now, in terms of the community really working together. The economy has been tough, and that has made all of us have to learn to work together even better to keep things going.

“So we think this is the perfect time to revive Razzle Dazzle, to bring it back and celebrate our community.”

For information on the Oct. 28 organizational meeting, e-mail info@razzledazzledallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas