By BTL Staff
DETROIT – Equality Michigan, the only statewide anti-violence and political advocacy organization that serves Michigan’s LGBT and HIV affected communities, has been named the beneficiary of two gifts from the estate of Dr. Henry Messer.
A grand total of three million dollars was awarded to Equality Michigan in two parts. The first million is to be added to the gifts of other donors and applied directly and immediately toward the LGBT policy and victim services work and will be distributed over the next four years. The remaining two million will be donated to the endowment at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
“Henry was one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and one of my dearest friends. He dedicated his life to helping those most in need and did not just dream of a future where all LGBT people could live safely and openly, but committed his time, talent and resources to making that dream a reality,” said Joy Geng, vice chair of the Equality Michigan board of trustees. “Out of the tragedy that he did not live to see his dream fulfilled comes a historic opportunity for Equality Michigan to finish the work he started and make that dream come true for future generations. I am confident that our team will not let him down, and that his legacy will live on through the organization he loved so much for decades to come.”
As the cofounder of Triangle Foundation in 1991, Dr. Messer served on the organization’s board of trustees for over a decade and continued to volunteer weekly until his death in February of this year. The Triangle Foundation merged with Michigan Equality to form Equality Michigan in 2010 and has since worked to continue the work of both groups.
Messer was a lifelong LGBT activist who became involved in the movement after being discharged from the military during WWII, where he met his lifelong partner, Carl House. Messer and House then found themselves in the thick of the Stonewall Riots and LGBT history. They continued their activism when they moved to Michigan in the early ’70s and were involved with organizations like the Michigan Organization for Human Rights which later became Triangle Foundation. It was important for Messer that the organization he helped create not only survive but also thrive in his absence.
“Henry was a visionary, but he was also a mentor and guardian to everyone who has worked for Equality Michigan. Our work today would not have been possible without Henry’s compassion, generosity and passion for our mission and communities which we serve,” said Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan. She added, “I made a personal commitment to Henry that Equality Michigan would build on his legacy. This gift will enable us to do that. We are tremendously grateful for his trust in our work and love for his community. We miss Henry and he will always be a part of every step forward.”