BY BTL STAFF
YPSILANTI – Dozens of wine lovers gathered on Nov. 30 at Bona Sera Cafe in Ypsilanti for the 13th Annual Wine Cellar benefit for Unified – HIV and Beyond. Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the merger between AIDS Partnership Michigan and HARC that created Unified – HIV and Beyond, and the final year of the Wine Cellar event, organizers went all-out to honor the fundraiser’s originators, Keith Orr and Martin Contreras.
Orr and Contreras hosted the first Wine Cellar in 2003 as a HARC benefit at their restaurant in Ann Ann Arbor, autBar. Each year the event expanded, attracting more people and raising more funds for the HIV/AIDS agency that served Washtenaw County with direct services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Over the past 13 years, the Wine Cellar event has raised over $250,000.
Orr and Contreras were presented with two prestigious proclamations. Amanda Edmonds, Mayor of Ypsilanti, and Christopher Taylor presented a Proclamation from the City of Ypsilanti honoring the two activists, “who have tirelessly served our community as business owners and LGBTQ leaders for the last 20 plus years.” Then, Jason Morgan from U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell’s office presented a U.S. Congressional Citation that states in part; “Mr. Contreras and Mr. Orr have played a crucial role in building the LGBTQ community through their business and philanthropic initiatives. In 1995, they founded autBar, a gay bar and restaurant that today serve as a key pillar of the LGBTQ community in the Ann Arbor area.”
Jimena Loveluck, deputy director of Unified, then surprised Orr and Contreras with a near-life-sized original portrait of the two men with their beloved canine companion, Duke. The portrait was created from a photograph taken March 22, 2015 after Orr and Contreras were married in the brief window of opportunity after Judge Berndard Friedman’s historic decision that declared Michigan’s anti-marriage amendment unconstitutional
“We were overwhelmed,” said Orr. “We knew we were going to be honored at the event, but had no idea the extent. We are deeply touched, honored and humbled.”
BY BTL STAFF