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”We do a lot of charitable work for our business – my partner, Ken Flick, and I – and I think that The Center is one of the most important things we can do in the city,” Allen told attendees. ”I’m really looking forward to the new space, and getting everyone in there so that more programs can develop from it, especially youth programs, which I feel are one of the most important aspects.”
In addition to youth programs, Allen specifically praised The DC Center’s HIV and Crystal Meth working groups, which address major LGBT health concerns.
But public health awareness is nothing new to Allen. In 2005, as owner of the Crew Club, he used a portion of his company’s advertising budget – $40,000 in all – to help print public service announcements aimed at getting men tested as part of an anti-syphilis campaign. Allen also opened the Crew Club to syphilis screeners from the D.C. Department of Health to offer regular testing. Both moves have been credited with helping lead to a 5 percent drop in D.C. syphilis infection rates in 2005.
”This means we don’t do a lot of vacations this year,” Allen joked as he presented Mariner and Sessa with the check. ”When people give a lot of money, you think, ‘Oh, they have a lot of money to give.’ It’s not always that way. What it is, is the choices that we make in our lives, and where we think this kind of money would be effective.”
In thanking Allen for the donation, Sessa said, ”The thing about D.C. [Allen] is that he interacts with so many of us on so many different levels in the community. He’s one of us. He’s a guy that decides to step up. And he steps up a lot. And we are truly, truly beneficiaries of your generosity and your partner’s.”
”We’re very excited to get a good kick-start to the relocation effort with this large donation,” Fowler says of Allen’s donation.
Ross says that The DC Center’s relocation fund is accepting small donations, but did not have figures available for how much has been raised so far. She did say that figures would soon become available, particularly for some large-dollar donors as the center’s move-in date approaches.
”We’ll be revealing how folks in the community have helped us out,” says Ross, explaining that the center will announce donations of equipment and furniture in coming weeks.