Helping Hands

Brother Help Thyself awards $103,000 to grantees

Raising money for Brother Help Thyself‘s 2009 grant recipients was far from easy.

Actually, says JoAnn Kokindo, ”it was horrible.” Kokindo, president of the community-based organization that helps other non-profit organizations serving the GLBT and HIV/AIDS communities in Baltimore and D.C., says the current economy definitely had an impact on their fundraising for BHT’s annual program.

”We almost were at the point where we felt we wouldn’t be able to give out anything.”

Lucky for Kokindo and the dozens of groups that had applied for grants from the organization, personal donations picked up just two months shy of the event.

”We probably only had about maybe $12,000 in the bank, in our fund,” she says.

That’s alarming, considering last year BHT granted $160,000 to community organizations.

The money is raised throughout the year from federal funds, personal donations and social fundraisers at local bars and at special events like the Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend.

”We normally give a bunch of money that we earn from interest from our stocks and mutual funds,” Kokindo says. ”We have a couple of endowments and they really got depleted.”

In the end, thanks to some last-minute funds and personal donations, it all came together Saturday afternoon, Jan. 31, for BHT’s annual Grant Awards Ceremony at Remingtons on Capitol Hill.

That afternoon, following the unexpected rise in donations that allowed for an upbeat ceremony, Kokindo was in for another surprise: Members of BHT awarded her the Anthony J. Bachrach Award for outstanding volunteer work.

”It was a surprise to her,” says Mark Clark, treasurer of BHT. ”Jim Rinefierd, Mr. Capital Pride Leather for 2008, went up to get it and then turned it around and said, ‘No this is for you.”’

Other awardees included the Hippo in Baltimore, which received the George Dotson Business Award recognizing a business’ contribution to the GLBT community; POZVOX – Positive Voices of Baltimore, awarded the Billy Collision Award, in memory of a former BHT member; and the Washington Metropolitan’s Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) was presented with the Founder Award, which recognizes a nonprofit organization for its service to the community.

In addition to the GLLU award, MPD Acting Lt. Brett Parson was given a special certificate of recognition.

”Over the years he’s been such a stalwart in support of the whole community,” Clark says. ”He manages to get to a lot of events, like the one we had on Saturday, and it’s important for the community to show its appreciation personally, as well as for the work that he does with the [GLLU] unit. From the beginning, he’s been there for the community in a big way.”

In total, Clark says BHT named 40 grantees at the ceremony, who collectively received $103,000.

The largest grant went to Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), which received $7,000; AIDS Action Baltimore received $6,237.50. And Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care got $6,002.

Clark said over the past several years, the Grant Awards Ceremony has grown to include grantees, awardees, and performers including the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, and various members of the GLBT community.

”The event has developed into a major gathering for the whole community,” says Clark. ”It was just very nice. It was a big, upbeat night.”

More about Brother Help Thyself is available at www.MetroWeekly.com.

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