In just two months, Affirmations, the LGBTQ+ community center based in Ferndale, raised $115,000 during its annual Affirmation Pride Fundraising Campaign. The organization closed out the event with a unique telethon on Saturday, June 26.
Affirmations Executive Director David Garcia and legendary drag performer The Lady “T” Tempest hosted the livestream event and presented several awards to supportive community members.
“Our Pride Telethon Livestream was not only a strong fundraising activity but, more importantly, has become a great ‘friendraiser’ with dozens of new donors supporting the important programs and services offered by Affirmations,” said Anthony Sherman, co-chair of the Affirmations Board of Directors. “We are amazed by the outpouring of goodwill individuals have shown our organization throughout the pandemic as we have met the emerging needs of our community.”
Here are some highlights from the event:
Telethon beats last year in funds raised
The telethon was livestreamed, and more than $21,000 — an increase of more than $8,000 over last year — was raised on the day of. Affirmations Board Co-Chair Brianna Yuille generously added $25,000 in matching funds.
The event featured entertainment on new center stage
This year, the telethon featured live entertainment in the Ringwald Theatre at Affirmations. The performance space was relocated from its original location to Affirmations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Featured entertainment included music by The Ringwald Theatre, Jay Kaplan, the PRISM Men’s Chorus and local band The Handgrenades.
Jay Kaplan wins Jan Stevenson Award
The Jan Stevenson Award, named for Affirmations’ first executive director and the co-founder of Pride Source, went to Jay Kaplan in recognition of his 20 years as a staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project. “I am so touched and humbled by this honor,” Kaplan told Pride Source. “I consider myself to be one of the lucky people who gets to do work that I feel passionately about and to be of service to the LGBTQ community.”
Rachel Zaback wins Karen Dorgan Volunteer Award
The Karen Dorgan Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Rachel Zaback, who Garcia said gave not only of her time but also of her energy and represented the center to the community in a positive and respectful manner.
Charles Balis and Brandon Balis win Lorna Utley Outstanding Ally Award
The Lorna Utley Outstanding Ally Award, which goes to individuals who support the center and its missions and programs as allies, was picked up by Charles Balis and Brandon Balis from CW and Associates.
Liam Thomas McDonald wins Charles Moyer Philanthropy Award
The Charles Moyer Philanthropy Award has historically been presented to someone who has a history of going above and beyond in their support of Affirmations. This year’s winner was Liam Thomas McDonald.
Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz win Community Hero Award
Finally, Stevenson, herself, along with her wife and fellow Pride Source co-founder Susan Horowitz, received the Community Hero Award, which was presented by the center’s board of directors to the couple for inspirational leadership, advancing acceptance, equality and inclusion. “We’re deeply humbled,” said Stevenson. “It was a surprise for sure. We were there to give out an award, and instead, we received one.”