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|Seasons of Love, Purim Off Ponce offer good fun for good causes|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|March 02, 2012 00:00|
From an all-volunteer cabaret to help kids to a costume party that celebrates a Jewish holiday while supporting LGBT rights, the weekend of March 9-10 will be busy with benefits.
CHRIS Kids, a local provider of housing and services programs for youth, will host its Seasons of Love cabaret benefit March 9-10 at the 14th Street Playhouse.
This year’s event, “Encore! The Best of 10 Years of Seasons of Love,” will relive many of the best moments of the fundraiser’s history. Some 35 numbers will be performed, ranging from pop to Motown to Broadway classics, says JD Kellum, a CHRIS Kids boardmember and performer in the cabaret.
“Many of the numbers will be highlights from years past,” Kellum says.
Kellum says that the annual benefit is one of the main highlights of the organization’s yearly calendar of events. CHRIS Kids provides a variety of services, including counseling, group homes and transitional independent living programs, for at-risk children, teens and young adults — including LGBT youth.
The event, which began humbly, has grown over the years.
“It started at St. Mark with maybe just 100 people,” Kellum said. “It’s grown over the years. One year we had it at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech. The last two years have been near-sellout crowds at 14th St. Playhouse.”
Seasons of Love and the annual Premiere Party are both organized by CHRIS Kids’ OUTreach Committee, Kellum says.
“That’s the great thing about CHRIS Kids and the outreach committee, we’re trying to build a bridge between the gay and straight communities to benefit the children,” Kellum adds.
This year’s benefit is the last “annual” event for the cabaret fundraiser, though there may be reunion shows in the future, Kellum says.
Tickets for this year’s event range from $41 for individual entrants to $100 for VIP access. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the CHRIS Kids website. All of the proceeds from ticket sales and donations made at the fundraiser will go to benefit the organization.
“We’re providing a hand-up, not a handout,” Kellum says. “These are kids that are 17 to 24 that are homeless or leaving the adoption system. We’re able to provide this home environment. It’s as nice as any apartment community in Midtown.”
For Kellum, volunteering with CHRIS Kids has been a way to give back.
“It’s my way of giving back and paying it forward what was wrong in my life,” Kellum said. “Had I had the fortitude to come out to my family at 16, I would have been thrown out on the street. If I can help provide that environment to a kid and change someone’s life on that level, it’s very rewarding.”
Kellum came out to his parents when he was 29 and they were not supportive, he adds.
“It’s difficult, but it can define you or destroy you and it’s your choice. These kids don’t have a choice. It does get better, regardless of your background,” Kellum says.
“Knowing that we’ve changed one life and that we can unlock the potential of one child, that one ripple could create a wave, and that wave can be life-changing in a community, not just an individual. It’s inspiring to hear these stories of kids who have overcome great adversity to actually succeed.”
Seasons of Love has raised more than $350,000 in its 10-year history, according to Kellum. CHRIS Kids hopes to bring in $60,000 from this year’s fundraiser.
Purim Off Ponce goes ‘70s
The sixth annual Purim Off Ponce costume party will be held at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center on March 10 and will be themed around everyone’s favorite decade, the 1970s.
Purim Off Ponce is a benefit fundraiser for the Rainbow Center, a Jewish non-profit which aims to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of all faiths and denominations.
Purim, an annual Jewish holiday, celebrates the saving of the Jews by Queen Esther and involves costumes and merrymaking.
The Rainbow Center, along with Jewish Family & Career Services and Congregation Bet Haverim, puts a gay spin on the holiday each year.
The theme for this year’s fundraiser was inspired by The Mike Veal Band, a musical group that plays a wide variety of music from the 1970s.
“It’s all surrounding the band,” says Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of the Rainbow Center. “They’re from the ‘70s, meaning the era which they play their music. They’re just a phenomenal band that can play anything.”
Attendees are also invited to submit photos of themselves dressed in their best 1970s garb that will be included in the party’s decor.
Local community activist Owen Halpern will be honored for his work with the Rainbow Center during the fundraiser, as well. Halpern has been a volunteer and fundraiser for the organization for six years and is the director of OH! Atlanta Tours.
“A very generous kind person who wants to make the world right, who had a very difficult time being as when he was young, very tumultuous younger years, now he’s able to set it right,” Stapel-Wax says.
For the Rainbow Center, Purim Off Ponce has become the organization’s landmark annual event.
“It is our hallmark event. The Rainbow Center is known in many ways because of the event. We have many people that come that aren’t Jewish or aren’t gay. That’s the beauty of the holiday, to get people together who normally wouldn’t,” Stapel-Wax adds.
In addition to The Mike Veal Band, entertainment will also be provided by aerialist Sadie Hawkins, the burlesque troupe Dames AFlame and Atlanta’s camp drag favorites the Armorettes.
Tickets to the fundraiser range from $36-50.
Photo: Left: The ‘Seasons of Love’ cabaret has raised more than $350,000 over 10 years for CHRIS Kids. (Photo by Brent Corcorcan/RNZ Photography. Right: The annual ‘Purim Off Ponce’ costume party benefits the Rainbow Center, which helps LGBT people of all faiths. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
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