Dallas Red Foundation has a new board and a new commitment to diversity, parties for the people and is raising a lot more money



DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Dallas Red Foundation has an exhaustive schedule of fundraisers to benefit Legacy Counseling Center and an ambitious new fundraising goal. Last year the organization raised $26,000 for the agency. This year they hope to raise considerably more.

“Melissa’s the inspiration,” board President Cody Lynch said. “She has more resilience than anyone I’ve ever met.”

“Melissa” is Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove who attends just about every fundraiser thrown for her organization. The resilience Lynch refers to is her non-stop energy despite battling a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

DRF throws a number of parties and other events through the year. That many parties means a lot of hard work, and all that work had taken its toll on the board. By the end of last year, only three board members remained.

Lynch accepted the position as president, then added nine members to the board. He and his board then recruited a dozen committee members to do marketing, plan events, recruit volunteers and expand diversity and inclusion.

Wil Turner is the diversity and inclusion chair, and he said the group wants to appeal to a broader demographic.

“My goal with these parties is to embrace everyone,” Turner said. “My mission is to figure it out so we don’t have that problem [of a narrow audience] again.” The idea, he added, is to stage “parties for the people.”

Lynch said he hopes more lesbians and trans people begin attending Red Foundation events, because “Red parties are for everyone.”

“Our board members’ families are coming,” Lynch said of the new parties. “My parents are coming.”

Grove was impressed with the low price points, saying she hopes lower costs will attract a wider variety of people.

To reach a wider audience, the foundation is participating in a number of events, including a contraception convention recently held at University of Texas Dallas. Lynch said they brought information about Legacy and DRF and signed up 25 people up interested in attending or volunteering.

Lynch realized that while Dallas Red Foundation had been raising thousands of dollars a year for Legacy, no one on the board had ever visited the agency. So the new board took a trip to Legacy Cottage in Oak Cliff.

Turner said the most moving part of their visit was when one of the residents needed some help in his room. Everyone jumped at the chance to pitch in.

“That really put things in perspective,” Turner said — especially when they heard that client had died a week later.

Lynch said they learned some of the facility’s needs, so money from the auction at the May event, Red in Wonderland, will go toward building a new back deck. Board members also hope to replace older TVs in the seven client rooms with flat screens on arms that swing.

Lynch also said his group will collaborate more this year with other fundraising organizations, like Purple Foundation, Black Tie Dinner and Impulse. At their Sweethearts Party in February, the development staff of AIDS Interfaith Network served as bartenders, donating their $1,000 in tips to AIN.

Lynch said he loves that sort of collaboration, because had the foundation hired bartenders for the event, those bartenders would have kept their own tips. This way, Legacy lost nothing and AIN raised some money.

“Cody has been working tirelessly,” Grove said, adding that she loves what the group does, because they’re focused on the prevention message.

“They’re making HIV prevention sexy, cool, fun and hip,” she said.

DRF has small events — like its DRF Takeovers that have been held so far at Cedar Springs Tap House in Oak Lawn, at Barbara’s Pavilion in Oak Cliff and Azure in Addison — and large events, like the upcoming Red in Wonderland or the big Red Party held during Pride weekend in September.

But Grove said there’s no such thing as a small event, because of all the work that goes into making any event successful. She said the work of DRF allows her to focus on the business of Legacy.

“The fundraising side of managing an agency takes so much time away from providing actual client services,” Grove said. “Red Party and the people who put it on keep me excited about my     work.

Red in Wonderland features a DJ, dancing, performances by Miss Red Raquel Blake and Chris Chism, and a silent and live auction. From 8-11 p.m. on May 7 at Seven for Parties, 150 Turtle Creek Blvd., Ste. 107. Tickets are $35 in advance at RedInWonderland.EventBrite.com, and $50 at the door.

Red Summernight’s Dream with current Drag Racer Cynthia Lee Fontaine at The Brick.
The Red Party on Sept. 16 at Sixty Five Hundred, 6500 Cedar Springs Road.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2016.