Garden Party sustains healthy Health Initiative

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imageAs one of the largest events on the local lesbian social calendar, the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative’s Fall Garden Party at Einstein’s on Sunday provides both financial and motivational support for the organization.

“The Garden Party is our single largest fundraiser all year, and the funds created that night help us meet those operation expenses that aren’t grant related,” says Linda Ellis, director of the Health Initiative (top photo).

“It’s our largest source of unrestricted funds, probably making up about a quarter of our budget,” she says. “But beyond that, it’s an opportunity to come together and celebrate. I leave the event each year charged up and excited knowing people are behind us.”

The evening truly puts the fun in fundraising, combining food, drinks, a silent auction, prize raffle, honors for individual contributors, big donation presentations—and this year, dancing under the stars.

image“It has all the makings of a great party,” Ellis says. “Einstein’s really knows how to throw a party. We’ve taken the opportunity to transform part of the patio into a dance floor, so that should really up the energy level.”

“Our silent auction partners have gone above and beyond this year too,” she adds. “We have great travel opportunities, stays at resorts and riverfront cabins, and maybe most exciting, season ticets to next year’s Atlanta Dream. For a good number of our supporters, that can’t be beat. That’s amazing.”

Raffle tickets for $20 also put you up for a chance to win a iPad or a Wii console.

This year’s Healing Angel Award recipient is Dr. Jason Schneider, an assistant professor at Emory Medical Center and the associate director of the Primary Care Center at Grady Hospital. Schneider has also served as president of the National Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, was with President Obama in the Rose Garden for a discussion on health care, and served as a leader in the fight for same-sex partner hospital visitation rights.

image“Jason has improved LGBT healthcare on a system-wide level through his work at Grady and Emory and through GLMA,” Ellis says. “When the Health Initiative sends someone on to primary health care, they are better taken care of because of the work he has done. That’s very ground level and important. He’s improving the health of all of us, and that’s huge.”

Ellis says that the Garden Party raises about a quarter of the organization’s operational funds. Last year’s event raised an estimated $30,000 and drew 300 guests (second and third photos). View photos from last year’s event.

“Everyone is living in tighter times, and that’s true as an organization as well as us as individuals,” she says. “The Garden party provides the bulk of our unrestricted funds, and it’s that support that sustains us as a resource for better health.”

To that end, the Decatur Women’s Sports League, which is in the midst of the Friday fall softball phase of its yearlong activities, will present its 2010 donation during the Garden Party. Both League Chair Anne “Sarge” Barr and Ellis say that this year’s check presentation will put the league over the $50,000 mark of ALHI donations since its inception as Atlanta’s premiere women’s sports group.

“DWSL and Sarge are amazing,” Ellis says. “They are one group that is really living up to their promise to give back to the community in the biggest way, above and beyond our expectations.

ALHI’s Health Fund has expanded to include gay male and transgender clients. So while lesbians are sure to pack Einstein’s on Saturday, Ellis says more men are expected as the organization continues to grow.

“I hope that opening that kind of programming up and recognizing and addressing the health of the whole LGBT community—as well as recognizing the amazing work Jason has done–will bring more guys to the party, and of course, that will add to the energy of the evening as well,” she says.

Tickets to the Fall Garden Party are available online now.

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