Joining Hearts cancels summer pool party fundraiser

The summer pool party blowout from Joining Hearts – a July event that attracts more than 1,000 people in a sea of abs and skimpy swimsuits to raise money for HIV charities – is calling it quits. You can thank Miss Rona. 

The organization emailed supporters on Saturday with the announcement. The coronavirus pandemic first pushed the non-profit to cancel its Change of Seasons event, which was set for May 2. Now, the main event that usually takes place in mid-July at the pool inside Piedmont Park.

“As it currently stands, the City of Atlanta is not accepting, let alone approving any permits for any events – and certainly nothing on the scale of the Main Event,” Jerry Henderson, Joining Hearts’ president, wrote in the email.

“As sad as this makes us all, the Joining Hearts Main Event (JH33) currently cannot take place. Until the City resumes processing event permits, and the COVID-19 science and practicality supports a resumption of activities, the board has reluctantly and with great sadness canceled the Main Event,” he added.

In 2019, Joining Hearts donated $136,100 to five organizations – AID Atlanta ($48,600), Lost & Found Youth ($5,000), Jerusalem House ($65,000), Project Open Hand ($5,000) and Hope ATL ($12,500), according to its website. The organization has raised $2.5 million for its beneficiaries since its founding in 1987.

The organization plans to donate funds to charities this year, though Henderson said the amounts will be lower than usual

Henderson added that the organization is still exploring ways to safely host the event this year but that it’s not looking hopeful.

“Believe when we say that we are continuously looking at every opportunity to still safely and responsibly hold the Main Event, but with current science, common sense, and the City itself do not support that idea no matter how much we all may want it,” Henderson wrote.

The summer pool party is among many LGBTQ events canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But it, along with HRC’s Atlanta gala originally scheduled for May 2, are the highest-profile casualties. 

The full statement from Joining Hearts:

Dear Joining Hearts Family,

We hope this message finds you, your family, and friends well and that you’re staying healthy and safe during these unprecedented times.

We want to update you on the current status of this the 33rd season of Joining Hearts fundraising.  As you all know, times have changed and our current normal is a great deal different than before COVID-19 invited itself into our lives.

As many of you may know, we kicked off our 33rd fundraising season earlier this year with Love on the Rocks back in February.  We hope those that attended had as much fun as we did.  Our next scheduled event would have been Change of Seasons, May 2nd,  but due to COVID-19, the Board decided to cancel this event for the safety of everyone.

As we approach the Main Event Pool Party (usually the 3rd Saturday of July), we want to be as transparent as possible and provide you all with this update.  As it currently stands, the City of Atlanta is not accepting, let alone approving any permits for any events – and certainly nothing on the scale of the Main Event.  As sad as this makes us all, the Joining Hearts Main Event (JH33) currently cannot take place. Until the City resumes processing event permits, and the COVID-19 science and practicality supports a resumption of activities, the Board has reluctantly and with great sadness canceled the Main Event.

Please rest assured that we are in constant contact with the City to stay up to date with any changes in the Cities policy and procedures that might allow us to potentially, if many many stars align, be able to resume event planning – which may or may not include a resumption of the Main Event. Believe when we say that we are continuously looking at every opportunity to still safely and responsibly hold the Main Event, but with current science, common sense, and the City itself do not support that idea no matter how much we all may want it.

We want to express our MANY thanks to our Patrons and Sponsors who already donated to JH33.  We are working with all our vendors to ensure that all deposits can and will be rolled into next year in the worst case.  We still plan to make donations this year to our beneficiaries even though the amounts will be much much lower than normal.  Also know that we are continuing to look for creative ways to still fundraise – like with our virtual Facebook DJ events.  Keep your eyes open and JOIN US!

We can’t say enough, or express our appreciation at how much it means to Joining Hearts during these trying times that YOU, our AMAZING Patrons, Sponsors and Guests, continue to support our mission: to raise awareness and funds to support the prevention, care, and housing assistance to those impacted by HIV/AIDS in Atlanta.

Best regards,
Jerry Henderson
President Joining Hearts, Inc.

Read more coverage of how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting LGBTQ Atlanta.