By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Detroit- No mirrors were broken, no one walked under a ladder, and no one crossed a black cat’s path. In fact, there was no bad luck at all for two local AIDS service agencies, who now view Friday the 13th as their lucky day. On May 13 Equity & Friends Fights AIDS, the charitable arm of Actors Equity, presented both AIDS Partnership Michigan and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project with gifts of $13,000.
The donations were presented at the agencies’ offices in Detroit and Ferndale.
According to MAPP CEO Craig Covey, the amount, as well as the timing, was a surprise. MAPP doesn’t always receive funding from the organization, and the donations that have come have been given at different times of year. The largest amount that MAPP has received from Equity & Friends in the past was $7,500.
“With the unsteady economy and continuing governmental grant cuts, this support from Equity & Friends is a godsend,” said Covey.
This year’s large donations were the result of “a banner year,” according to Judy Dery, chair of Detroit’s Equity & Friends Fight AIDS. Four area theatres – the Gem, the Century, the City and Jewish Ensemble Theatres – collected donations from patrons throughout the 2004-2005 holiday season. Three additional theatres – Meadowbrook, the Detroit Repertory and Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatres – collected donations during Thanksgiving weekend.
According to Dery, the actors union has been raising money for AIDS causes since the early 80s.
This year the organization enjoyed “an amazing outpouring of goodwill from the theatre patrons,” Dery said.
Barb Murray, executive director of APM, lauded Equity and Friends for their consistent support.
“Unlike some funding sources that have moved on to other issues, they have stuck with the AIDS issue,” said Murray. “It is incredibly important for us to have their support.”
Murray said that her organization has been receiving funds from Equity and Friends for about ten years.
“To me, these are the folks that ride in on the white horse once a year and do a very nice thing, particularly at the moment that you need it most,” Murray said.
Covey said that the donation will be used to shore up weak spots in current funding.
“These funds will be used in our general fund to pay for programs and supplies not covered by current grants funding,” he said.
According to Murray, the presentation of the gift to APM was accompanied by a bit of song and dance.
Dery, Dana Gamarra, chair of the equity liaison committee, and Mark Murri, a member of the committee, presented the check to APM. Dery, who is also appearing in “Menopause, the Musical,” treated APM’s staff to one of the songs from the show at Murray’s request.
“It was great, great fun,” Murray said. “I can’t say enough about these people. They are just wonderful.”