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|Health Initiative celebrates ‘Sisters’ at Sunday’s Garden Party|
|by Shannon Hames|
|September 21, 2012 10:10|
Inclusiveness is the biggest change in this year’s Garden Party fundraiser, hosted by the Health Initiative on Sunday, Sept. 23. Since changing its name from the Atlanta Lesbian Health initiative to The Health Initiative last year, the focus has also changed. The Initiative is no longer exclusively a lesbian health organization but now address the health needs of all in the LGBT community.
“Since we have broadened our mission to include everyone, we have had some new challenges that we knew we might face when we planned to make these changes almost two years ago. Mainly, we want to ensure that we cover the full continuum of the lives of our clients,” said Jo Giraudo, Health Initiative board co-chair.
That continuum includes a new support group for senior citizens called SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders).
“It’s a national organization that helps seniors deal with the challenges of growing older,” said Giraudo. “Many of these folks live alone. They didn’t qualify for partner benefits and some of them have had partners pass away. We work with them to keep them connected to each other and to advocate on their behalf.”
The Garden Party provides the Health Initiative’s largest source of unrestricted funds, according to Executive Director Linda Ellis.
“Much of the most important work we do — like training new low-cost clinic partners or helping individuals access care thorough the Health Fund — is not easily funded by grants,” Ellis said.
“We have more folks calling each day and asking for support,” she added. “What that means for us is we have to do double time in managing the Health Fund and in building partnerships with new providers, especially in areas outside of Metro Atlanta.”
Giraudo is quick to agree. “People will call and say ‘I need a gay-friendly doctor in Hinesville, Ga.,’ and we will make the calls until we find that doctor,” she said.
Outside the perimeter, the LGBT community is reaching in to lend a hand by donating to the silent auction. Kimber Powell, stylist from Lyquyd Hair Salon in Douglasville, is one of four stylists from her salon to donate services to the auction.
“There isn’t a lot of help out there,” Powell said. “Everybody deserves healthcare but it seems like if you aren’t P. Diddy, you can’t afford it. We saw what the Health Initiative was doing and wanted to support their work.”
Powell, who plans to attend the garden party with others from her salon, thinks that it is important for the LGBT community to support the Health Initiative.
“We live in Douglasville and we wanted to reach out to the gay community everywhere. There are people in our town that won’t set foot in our salon because gay people work here. But there are also gay people in our community who might drive right past us on their way to Atlanta to get their hair done because they don’t know we’re here. We would love to connect with them and let them know that we’re here for them and we car,” she said.
In addition to the festivities, the Health Initiative will also honor the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with this year’s Healing Angel award.
“The Sisters put their commitment to the health of our community into action each time they don their habits and veils,” said Ellis. “Whether it's helping organize and staff a health fair or helping secure housing and healthcare for homeless LGBT youth, the Sisters truly are angels.”
The Garden Party will be held at Einstein’s in Atlanta from 4-8 p.m. on Sunday, with a VIP reception starting at 3 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.TheHealthInitiative.org, or by calling 404-688-2524.
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