The generosity of Bert Gallagher and Hudson Ferus Vodka is paying off for the new company and for the LGBT community
Tammye Nash | Senior Editor
Gay Realtor Brian Bleeker knows how difficult it can be to raise money for a cause. And he knows how difficult it is for someone planning a small-scale fundraiser to find corporate sponsors for those events.
It’s not that companies don’t want to help, Bleeker said. But they plan their budget, including their charitable giving, months in advance, usually too early for those planning smaller or last-minute events to apply. The companies also usually want a lot of information on the event so they can gauge what kind of return they expect on their investment. And that is often information that organizers for smaller events don’t really have.
And then Bleeker met Bert Gallagher, cofounder and co-owner of a relatively new company producing Hudson Ferus Vodka, and that changed. Bleeker said he met Bleeker through a representative for a local liquor distributor, and he invited Gallagher to attend a mixer for the DFW Federal Club.
“It was almost two years ago, and I think he was just really impressed by the amount of time and effort people were willing to put into something we believed in,” Bleeker said.
Gallagher asked to meet with Bleeker and other local organizers, and at that meeting, “He said, ‘What can I do to help?’
Before long Gallagher had joined the DFW Federal Club and the Lambda Legal Liberty Circle, and he was donating vodka to events for those organizations and more.
And although some might be amazed that a straight man is so willing to be involved in LGBT activism, for Gallagher, it’s a no-brainer.
Gallagher and his business partner Doug Jacobson had a publication based in San Antonio before they got into the vodka business, and their first real exposure to HIV/AIDS and LGBT activism came when they were asked to sponsor the Fashion Nation event benefiting AIDS service organizations in that city.
Working with Fashion Nation organizers, Gallagher said, “gave me the chance to see firsthand how events like that can impact people’s lives. We knew then that we wanted to continue to be involved in events like that.” And when he met Bleeker and other activists in Dallas, Gallagher saw a natural extension of that involvement for Hudson Ferus.
“It was so impressive to see how organized the people are, how galvanized they are to make a difference,” Gallagher said. “The work these organizations are doing is really amazing, and that feeling has been reinforced each and every time we have sponsored an event,” he said.
Gallagher and Bleeker said that the sponsorships are definitely a win-win arrangement: Event organizers get the chance to offer free drinks made with a premium vodka, giving those attending events the chance to donate more to the cause; and the folks at Hudson Ferus are seeing their popularity rising steadily in the LGBT community.
“Folks are going in to their favorite bars and asking for Hudson Ferus, and when enough people ask for it, the bars will start stocking it. That’s how we are getting into places,” Gallagher said.
Bleeker noted that he is constantly astounded by the generosity of Gallagher and Hudson Ferus. “He has given away hundreds, thousands even, of bottles of vodka,” Bleeker said.
But for Gallagher, again, it is a no-brainer. “To whom much is given, much is expected. We have been given so much, and this is one way to give back.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.