Black Tie Dinner hands out $1.142M

Lemons stepping up as 2012-13 co-chair; Duncan joins staff as development director

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COMMEMORATIVE GIFT | BTD Co-chair Chris Kouvelis shows off the plate presented to each beneficiary along with a check. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Officials with the 2011 Black Tie Dinner on Thursday night, Dec. 15, distributed a total of $1.142 million to 17 local beneficiary organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Although the overall total was down a bit from 2010’s total of $1.15 million, some local beneficiaries received higher individual amounts this year since the number of local beneficiaries dropped from 18 to 17 after AIDS Services of Rural Texas closed its doors in late spring.

As is traditional, half the total proceeds this year — or $571,000 — went to the Human Rights Campaign Fund. Resource Center Dallas was the local organization receiving the largest sum — $63,868.

RCD also received the largest donation to a local beneficiary last year, but that total, at $48,504, was significantly lower than this year.

The percentage of the total proceeds that each local beneficiary receives from Black Tie Dinner each year is determined by a formula based on how many tables and how many raffle tickets each organization sells for the dinner, how many volunteer hours each organization contributes to the dinner and other factors.

Chris Kouvelis, 2011-12 BTD co-chair, said in a statement released Thursday that he and other board members were pleased with the amount given to beneficiaries.

“It’s a thrill and an honor for Black Tie Dinner to be able to distribute these funds,” Kouvelis said. “It is with distribution that the reason for all the hard work done by this wonderful board is realized.”

Kouvelis served his first year as co-chair with Nan Arnold, who stepped down from the post during the check distribution event after two years as co-chair.

Arnold told Dallas Voice this week she was proud to know that during the last two years,“ we were able to increase distribution [to beneficiaries] substantially from the previous three to four years. Being able to give more to our beneficiaries is always a wonderful thing, and of course, that is our No. 1 mission.”

She said she is also very proud of how successful the 2011 dinner was.

“We really changed a lot of things this year. We had a great lineup and we sold out by August,” Arnold said. “We’ve heard a lot of good remarks about the dinner this year, and of course, we always love hearing good things.”

Black Tie officials on Thursday introduced Mitzi Lemons as co-chair for the 2012 and 2013 dinners, and they introduced Margaret Byrne Duncan as the new development director for the dinner.

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PASSING THE TORCH | Outgoing Co-chair Nan Arnold, left, and incoming Co-chair Mitzi Lemons at the Black Tie Dinner check presentation party at the Dallas Museum of Art on Thursday, Dec. 15. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

“I am leaving the board in excellent hands,” Arnold said of Lemons’ selection as the new co-chair. “Chris has been a great co-chair partner and is more than ready to take the reins [as senior co-chair]. And Mitzi has shown remarkable leadership as chair of our business operations committee.”

Arnold continued, “She [Lemons] is the first person to have the opportunity to have served [during the last year] as co-chair elect, so Chris and I have been able to work with her and mentor her all year. There is no doubt they are a terrific team and will lead the board to great things.”

Arnold steps down as co-chair after eight years on the BTD board, saying it has been “an honor and a privilege” to serve.

“I am just humbled to be a small part of a really great community in Dallas and I appreciate the opportunity to do my part to help in any way I can,” she said.

Looking back on her eight years on the board, Arnold said there have been many special moments and memories, but one in particular that stands out in her mind was being able to hand over a “substantial” donation to first-time beneficiary Home for the Holidays following the 2010 dinner.

“They were so excited; there were tears and yells of joy and appreciation,” Arnold recalled. “There were hugs all around. It was wonderful.”

Home for the Holidays, a nonprofit that helps people with HIV/AIDS travel home to be with family, received $24,375 in 2010, an amount that Home for the Holidays President Rodd Gray said earlier this year was a fortune for an organization in which board members often used their own credit cards and bank accounts to cover expenses until they could raise enough money to get reimbursed.

Home for the Holidays did not apply to be a Black Tie beneficiary this year, Gray said, explaining that the 2010 donation was enough to tide them over for some time. “We don’t need the money right now, and we didn’t want to possibly take away money from some other organization that needs it more,” Gray explained.

For Lemons, stepping into the role of Black Tie Dinner co-chair is an exciting opportunity.

“It is an honor I never dreamed I would have the privilege of experiencing, and I know it will be a time in my life that I will always cherish,” Lemons said. “To lead such a remarkable organization that impacts the LGBT community in the way that we do is almost daunting, to say the least. But I know I have the support of my co-chair [Kouvelis] and a truly amazing board and advisory board.”

Lemons has been a Black Tie board member for four years, and worked as a volunteer with the organization for two years before joining the board. She said that she was on the board at Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth when the church first applied and was selected as a Black Tie beneficiary.

When the church was selected as a beneficiary, Lemons said, “I began volunteering with Black Tie and became more and more interested in how the organization works and how it helps so many people.”

Lemons said that during her first year as Black Tie co-chair, she intends to “continue our efforts to educate not only the LGBT community about the mission of Black Tie Dinnner to help our beneficiaries, but also to educate the general public and our sponsors. There are still many opportunities in the North Texas area, and we will work hard to expand our reach.

“Although the 2011 dinner will be a hard act to follow, we are already in full swing working on an amazing 2012 dinner,” she added.

Lemons has been in law firm management for more than 25 years and currently works as a law firm administrator. She and her partner, Dr. Sarah Hardy, have been together for 15 years, and Lemons said Hardy is also “very much a part of Black Tie with her never-ending support of my role on the board and her belief in the Black Tie mission.

“The many hours of work we do as board members to produce the dinner each year would never happen without the devotion of our spouses to what we believe in,” Lemons said.
Duncan said this week that the transition to her new position as development director for Black Tie Dinner has already begun, even though she does not officially take over the position until Jan. 1.

“I am honored to be part of the nation’s largest, most successful single-event LGBT fundraiser,” Duncan said. “That success would not be possible without our extremely dedicated volunteer board of directors.”

Duncan said she became familiar with Black Tie while working for five years with AIDS Arms, one of the dinner’s beneficiary organizations. Because of that, Duncan said, “I have firsthand knowledge of how important Black Tie’s funding is to the LGBT-supportive organizations serving North Texas.”

Duncan said her goal for 2012 is to continue building on the organization’s current success and to find ways to increase the donations Black Tie gives back to its beneficiaries.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘West Side Story’ cast at Mama’s Party tonight

The cast of the Broadway national tour of West Side Story, onstage through this weekend at Fair Park, will take their night off to perform at Amy Stevenson’s cabaret fundraiser  Mama’s Party on tonight.  The event raises money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which provides funds to our local agencies.  The evening, featuring local musicians as well as cast members singing some of their favorite songs, will be ar Tucker’s Blues, 2617 Commerce St. Doors open at 7 p.m. with an cover charge of $5 (cash only).  There will be prizes for raffle tickets and some auction items as well.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Resource Center raffling off Lady Gaga tickets

Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell just sent out notice that the center will be raffling off tickets to Lady Gaga’s show at the American Airlines Center in March:

We’re doing it again! Resource Center Dallas is raffling off two LUXURY SUITE tickets and parking for the Monster Ball Tour starring Lady Gaga March 14 at the American Airlines Center. You may remember that we held a similar raffle last summer for Lady Gaga’s July concerts at AAC. The raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50. Only 500 raffle tickets will be sold. The winner will be announced at the Pride Pharmacy Toast To Life Gala Feb. 26. People can buy their tickets to win now by going here .

If you snag those kind of seats for Gaga for $10, that would so be the bargain of the year. In case you missed it last summer, here’s some “Telephone” from her Dallas show:

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas CVB raffling off Super Bowl tickets

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Despite the common stereotype that gay men don’t like football, I am willing to bet there are some out there who would be thrilled to get to go to Super Bowl XLV, not to mention the lesbians who are football fans.

And with the NFL’s championship game coming to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington next February, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is giving even those of us who couldn’t normally afford a Super Bowl ticket a chance to see the big game firsthand by raffling off two Super Bowl XLV tickets,valued at $2,500.

The raffle tickets are $50 each and will be available through midnight on Oct. 31. The random drawing will be held Nov. 1, and the winner will get two tickets to the championship game on Feb. 6, with “premium seats,” according to CVB President and CEO Phillip Jones.

You have to be 18 years or older and reside in the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia to be participate in the raffle. But if you meet those requirements, you can buy as many of the $50 raffle tickets as you want to. Credit cards are accepted, and the raffle prize doesn’t include airfare, lodging or other potential expenses of attending the game.

A portion of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which operates The Bridge homeless shelter.

For more information or to purchase a raffle ticket, go here.

—  admin

LifeWalk: A big party for a big anniversary

20th annual LifeWalk steps off Oct. 10, will benefit 9 ASOs

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Lifewalk
WALKING FOR A CAUSE | Participants in the 20th annual LifeWalk in October can choose any one of 10 partner organizations to benefit from the funds they raise.

Twenty years is a long time for a fundraising event to stay active, not to mention successful. And a 20th anniversary calls for a special celebration.

And that’s exactly what AIDS Arms has planned for the 20th annual LifeWalk set for Sunday, Oct. 10 at Lee Park.

As the event marks its 20th year, AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said, “One of the things we wanted to do, right out of the gate, was increase our partnerships within the nonprofit community, to increase the number of partner agencies that would benefit from LifeWalk.

“We had four partner agencies last year. This year, we have nine. There are 10 organizations, counting AIDS Arms,” she said.

LifeWalk was created in 1991 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency folded, AIDS Arms took over, each year inviting other AIDS service organizations in the community to participate.

Nobles said organizers this year made a point to reach out to all the ASOs still in existence that had benefited from AIDS Arms in the past, asking them to participate again.

And the nine that are partnering with AIDS Arms for the event have the opportunity to add significantly to their coffers, she said.

“Every partner agency gets all the tools they need to have a successful LifeWalk team,” Nobles said. “They can potentially make a lot of money for themselves. It’s sort of the same model as the Black Tie Dinner. With Black Tie, beneficiaries can more or less write their own check, depending on how many tables they sell, how many raffle tickets they sell and how many volunteer hours they put in.

“What they get in return is the infrastructure for a very established event here in Dallas, and they can use that to benefit their organizations,” Nobles said.

It’s very similar with LifeWalk: Each agency works to get people to raise money and walk, and the money raised in an agency’s name goes to that agency, she explained.

Nobles said that LifeWalk strives each year to bring in enough sponsorships to completely cover the costs of staging the event, and they have reached that goal again this year. That means that “every penny that the walkers earn” goes to either AIDS Arms or one of the nine other beneficiary organizations.

“Of every dollar the beneficiaries raise, they keep 75 cents. The other 25 cents comes back to LifeWalk for next year’s event. That allows us to create an investment account to secure the future of the event, and it gives every beneficiary unrestricted funds to use however they need to,” Nobles said.

LifeWalk, Nobles continued, is a great example of the benefits of working together.

“The issue of collaboration is so important in this [HIV/AIDS] community. We all depend on each other so heavily these days, and this is one more opportunity for us to come together under one cause and help each of our individual organizations grow stronger .

“We [as organizations] may be very different from one another. We may not always agree with each other. But we are all here for the same reason,” she said. “And LifeWalk is an excellent platform to show the community that we can and do work together and partner together on behalf of our clients.”

In another nod to the past, all of the previous LifeWalk chairs have been invited to participate in the 20th anniversary celebration, Nobles said.

“We are hunting down, if you will, all the previous chairs, and we have been able to locate quite a few of them. Many of them still live in Dallas,” she said. “There is a group of previous chairs who have reaching out to the community, working to remind folks about LifeWalk, telling them, ‘Hey, this is why we were involved, and still are involved, in this event. This is the impact it can have on our community.”

Nobles said it has been gratifying for her to hear the stories of past LifeWalk chairs and to hear that so many of the people who were involved in past years are still supportive of the event.

“Many of them still attend LifeWalk every year, and they have some very personal reasons for doing so. It has been very moving for us to hear those stories,” she said. “Many of them will be at the 20th anniversary, and we are very proud that we can have them there to let everyone acknowledge the history and their contributions and what they have been able to build through this event.”

LifeBark — the LifeWalk co-event created several years ago to allow people to bring their dogs to the event and use their pets to widen their fundraising options — is “still howling,” Nobles said.

“There will be registration available for all the pups who want to walk and wag their tails for a good cause. There will be doggie games and treats and all kinds of vendors. And Operation Kindness will be there, too, with dogs available for adoption,” she noted.

LifeWalk representatives will be selling raffle tickets for the 2011 Mercedes Benz that will be raffled off during Black Tie Dinner in November, and there will be free HIV testing available to anyone who wants to get tested. Plus, there will be LifeWalk raffles for a new living room suite and for two American Airlines tickets to “anywhere American flies,” Nobles said.

The Buster Brown Band, which Nobles described as a “lively jazz band,” will be entertaining in Lee Park for LifeWalk, as will Darcell, a Dallas native who is coming back from Los Angeles to perform. And Dallas Pride Cheer will be on hand as well.

Nobles said AIDS Arms is proud that LifeWalk is one of the first local events to get the “family-friendly” seal of approval from the Human Rights Campaign’s local Family Equality Committee.

“There will be lots of things for the kids and teenagers to do, as well as the adults,” she said.

Although some teams have been working for months to raise money for LifeWalk, there will be plenty of people there walking as individuals, too, Nobles said.

And individuals will be able to register and participate right up until the time the walk steps off.

“All you have to do is show up at Lee Park that day and pay the $30 registration fee and get the T-shirt that comes with the registration fee,” Nobles said. “You can download the form from LifeWalk.org and turn it in that day, or you can register online, or you can just come out and register that day. Just show up at noon and walk. It’s as easy as that.”

Although LifeWalk is permeated with an air of celebration and fun, Nobles said she also wants people to remember the very serious reasons behind the walk.

“The HIV epidemic is doing nothing but growing right now in Dallas,” she said. “There are some great things happening to help fight that epidemic, and LifeWalk is a very important avenue for people to use to help us reach the goals we’ve set to be successful for our clients.

“We hope everyone will come on out, enjoy the anniversary celebration, enjoy the party and enjoy doing something good for somebody who really needs your help.”

For more information, go online to LifeWalk.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas