Celebrating Growth

Mautner Project annual gala honors contributors

True to its title, the Mautner Project’s annual gala dinner and auction is all about ”Love, Strength and Hope.”

”It’s really a time for us to celebrate the great work of the people who have lived and passed, and also people who are still living, still working really hard on these critical issues,” says Andrea Densham, interim executive director of the lesbian health organization. ”It’s a real opportunity for the community to help us build up this fantastic organization.”

Mautner’s largest annual fund-raising event is scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Hilton Washington near Dupont Circle.

This year, Mautner honors lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) with the 2007 ”Healing Works Award.”

”Tammy is the kind of person who isn’t here because of ego,” Densham says. ”She’s here because she cares about the issues.”

Baldwin is being honored in part for what Densham describes as her ”most extraordinary piece of legislation,” a health-partnership bill that would grant same-sex couples health care benefits.

”It’s a comprehensive bill ensuring we all have health insurance and health support, and it’s really important for our community,” Densham explains. ”Lesbians are deeply underserved in terms of having health insurance. We either have little health insurance, not substantial enough, or none at all — and disproportionate, as compared to heterosexual women.”

Other honorees include Elizabeth Dresser, who’s being honored with the ”Volunteer of the Year Award,” and Cheryl Spector, a beloved local activist who died of leukemia just a few weeks ago. Spector’s sister, Barbara Yeninas Spector, will be accepting the ”Unsung Hero Award” on her behalf.

Mosaic Harmony, a D.C.-based interfaith chorus, is scheduled to perform throughout the program, which will be emceed by San Francisco-based lesbian comic René Hicks.

”In addition to being hilarious and a fantastic entertainer, she’s also a lung-cancer survivor,” Densham says of Hicks.

According to Densham, the Mautner Project raised an estimated $300,000 during last year’s event.

”One of the wonderful things about this fundraiser is that it provides general operating support money,” she says, in addition to funds that will be dispersed among Mautner Project’s support services, support groups, smoking-cessation programs and volunteer promotion within the organization.

”One of the [reasons] why this organizations has been able to survive for years and thrive is because of its volunteer base. With more resources, we’re able to build that base and grow the number of clients we are going to be able to serve.”

The Hilton Washington is located at 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW. Doors open at 6 p.m. Ballroom opens for seating and dancing at 7:30 p.m. Single tickets are $175. To purchase tickets, visit www.mautnerproject.org or call 202-332-5536.

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