Affirmations: There’s No Place Like Home

Kate Opalewski
By | 2017-03-09T09:00:00-04:00 March 9th, 2017|Ferndale, Neighborhoods|

Affirmations board of directors president Frank Aiello with program services director Lilianna Reyes, and recipient of the 2016 Lorna Utley Outstanding Ally Award, Jennifer Stacer. Photo courtesy of Affirmations

The annual Spring Bash at Affirmations is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. “It’s how we are able to keep the lights on and our doors open. This event enables us to support programs that may not be fully funded through grants,” said Brad Bell, development committee chair of this year’s event themed “Emerald City” on March 18 at MGM Grand Detroit.
“The services we deliver are fundamentally needed today regardless of what’s going on in the world. We are a home for the community in times of crisis, such as Orlando, and we function as a host for the community to come together in good times as well, like we did during the Supreme Court marriage decision,” said Bell, pointing to the number of support programs provided, such as health and wellness groups, a variety of LGBTQ support groups, and community activities and events – which Affirmations plans to grow and develop each year.
“It’s incredibly critical and the event is conveniently a ton of fun at the same time,” said Frank Aiello, president of the board of directors at Affirmations. “It’s a great cause and a great way to connect with people, both in the LGBTQ community and the allies who support our mission.”
The evening, which attracts around 400 or more guests, will feature a VIP reception at 6 p.m. followed by the general admission program at 7 p.m. The night will also feature a variety of fun and unique raffle and auction items from around the metro Detroit area.
As staff and volunteers prepare for the big night, Aiello said there is a “renewed sense of energy and mission” with respect to Affirmations and creating a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community.
“We know now that we can’t take anything for granted. It would have been hard a year ago to imagine how important the community center has become. It’s our home, where we gather to be together. It’s the one place where you know that you can be your authentic self,” he said.
Aiello adds that “those who might be relatively stable down the road in their coming out process can sometimes forget what it was like at the beginning. More so for more marginalized parts of our community, particularly transgender people, our youth and the older adult population. For those that are still so vulnerable, the center is incredibly important.”
This will be part of the narrative at Spring Bash as the organization prepares to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 17,000-square- foot building made possible by Allan Gilmour and Eric Jirgens, who will be in attendance. The event officially launches a year of “recognition activities,” which will culminate in an anniversary celebration at Fall Fling on Oct. 7.
“One of the most touching moments of the evening is the presentation of awards, when we commend the people who have been helping us in different ways,” said Aiello, noting the Hero Award is new this year and will be presented to John Corvino, who has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community.
Corvino will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of his lecture, “What’s Morally Wrong with
Homosexuality?,” first delivered at the University of Texas at Austin on April 15, 1992, and since honed before hundreds of audiences around the country.
Other award recipients include the Jan Stevenson Award winner, Hannah Hartley; the Lorna Utley Award winner, Debbie Kenjorski; the Charles Moyer Philanthropy Award winner, Henry Grix and Howard Israel; and the Volunteer of the Year Award winner, John White.
To purchase tickets for the event at 1777 Third Ave. in Detroit, visit http://www.goaffirmations.org/spring-bash-2017. For questions or more information regarding Spring Bash 2017: Emerald City, contact Katie Koch at kkoch@goaffirmations.org or call 248-677-7227.

About the Author:

Kate Opalewski
Kate Opalewski is BTL's features editor and has been since 2015. She has covered a variety of topics ranging from art, politics and community outreach. Recently, she was honored by the Detroit Police Department LGBT Advisory Board for her work for the local LGBTQIA community.