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An annual spring fundraiser for the Affirmations LGBTQ community center, Spring Bash has long been a mainstay on the 501(C)(3)’s calendar. However, this year is special in two ways: it’s a celebration of the organization 30th birthday and the official introduction of the center’s brand-new Executive Director David Garcia who will be returning after an absence of five years to take the center’s helm.
“This is a huge milestone year for Affirmations,” said Mike Flores, the organization’s board president and interim executive director. “In addition to David Garcia being there, we announced that Dennis Shepard will be a keynote speaker as well. Of course, Dennis Shepard being the father of Matthew Shepard, so we’re excited to hear his comments and how really the LGBT movement has changed over the last several decades.”
One of the center’s signature events, the evening will be held at the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit and included in the evening’s events will be curbside valet, an open bar, a three-course dinner and entertainment featuring DJ Marquis.
However, though Spring Bash is scheduled as normal for this year, those who have been involved in Affirmations’ programming in recent months will know that just this past November, it wasn’t a certainty that the center would keep its doors open for more than six months.
“So not only are we going to be celebrating 30 years of legacy and all the accomplishments that the organization has done over the last 30 years but really celebrating the future,” Flores said. “There was a lot of uncertainty around the November timeframe when we had to make that decision to restructure, to make sure that the organization kept its doors open.”
That restructuring process included cutting center programming, staff and hours to stabilize the budget, reconnect with its donor base, develop a plan of action moving forward and finding someone to take on the permanent role of executive director — a role that hasn’t been filled since early 2018.
Flores said he’s proud of not only the center’s board and staff, but the community support that allowed the center to raise over $100,000 in barely two months and keep the doors open.
“It was difficult, we understand that; our board went from a governance board to a management board and a lot was asked from the staff that remained in terms of them going above and beyond what their current roles were,” he said. “But what we’re seeing is a shift in terms of how Affirmations operates, in terms of efficiency that we were able to create during the last couple of months. But, more importantly, it was the shift that we saw in terms of us being able to reconnect with the community and making sure that we took everything the community wanted. We used that information to be able to make sure we’re meeting all those needs at once.”
Flores said that another shift happened, too: a recommitment to partnerships with other local organizations.
“Not to say that we weren’t engaged in partnerships prior to the restructuring, but I think that there was a recommitment to make sure that we strengthened the current partnerships that we had, and established new partnerships moving forward,” he said. “Because we realized that the way of doing business in the past was unsustainable. The only way to be able to succeed moving forward was to change our mindsets and our models, and one of those key model elements was partnerships. I think if you ask other organizations in the Metro area, they have seen that.”
Still in some of the planning stages of some of those partnerships, Flores said he’s not at liberty to say all of the coming projects. However, he said March 30 has surprises in store and along with the coming months.
“As we move further in 2019, you’ll be able to start to see some of those partnerships really flourish and the community will start to see services change slightly at Affirmations because of those partnerships,” Flore said. “[They’re] for the better of the community.”
For ticket information visit goaffirmations.org/spring-bash-2019. For those interested in supporting the event through a sponsorship or donation, Kyle Taylor is available to answer questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 248-398-7105.