Brother, Help Thyself Inc. (BHT), the local organization that provides yearly infusions of grant money to help support local nonprofits that deal with the LGBT community or the HIV/AIDS community in the D.C.-Baltimore region, awarded more than $81,000 in grants to 26 organizations in an awards ceremony at the new headquarters of the D.C. Eagle on Saturday, Jan. 24.
Now in its 37th year, BHT initially started with small amounts of money, giving $4,518 to the Gay Men’s VD Clinic, which eventually became the predecessor to what is now Whitman-Walker Health, and to the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard. This year’s grants have boosted the total amount of money awarded by BHT to local nonprofits and community organizations to well in excess of $2 million. Jim Slattery, the president of BHT, said the organization hoped to spend its three millionth dollar within the next year. The yearly grant awards ceremony is held at a location in D.C. and Baltimore in alternating years.
The ceremony, which also doubled as a “soft” opening for the D.C. Eagle, a longtime establishment important to the LGBT and leather/kink and motorcycle club communities, featured live entertainment from D.C. Different Drummers, which was also one of this year’s grantees, earning $2,985, as well as an appearance by Mayor Muriel Bowser. In her prepared remarks, Bowser commended BHT for its support of local organizations and also pledged to those at the D.C. Eagle that her office would use the “machinery of government” to help support businesses and the District’s vibrant nightlife scene.
BHT’s largest grant in monetary terms went to HIPS, an organization that provides support and services to vulnerable populations, including but not limited to the District’s transgender population, sex workers and those struggling with drug addiction. HIPS also, in coalition with the anti-violence group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), began operating the District’s only 24-7 hotline specifically aimed at providing support and referrals to LGBTQ victims of violence. Due to its work with the hotline, in particular, HIPS was awarded $14,015. Most other organizations received a few thousand dollars in grant money, with the smallest award — $755 — going to Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS), for its work with LGBT people and in particular returning veterans and those suffering from PTSD.
BHT also continued its tradition of handing out special awards to honor special people, businesses or nonprofits that stand out in their dedication to working on behalf of the LGBT community. Douglas P. Mueller, a longtime donor to BHT, was honored with the Anthony J. Bachrach Award, given to the individual who has worked on behalf of the LGBT community. Mueller, who works for Neiman Marcus, has also managed to utilize his company’s matching gift program for charitable donations, in which gives $2 for every dollar given by Mueller. Mueller has also helped organize brunches for Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend.
BHT awarded the Billy Collison Award, given to the organization representing the “underdog” whose work, while important, may go unnoticed, to Health Options and Positive Energy Foundation, Inc. (HOPE DC), for its work in fighting, educating about and providing emotional and social support for people living with HIV/AIDS. BHT’s Founders Award, given to an emerging organization that manages substantial achievements with minimal funding, was given to Heart to Hand, Inc. Both organizations were also grantees, with HOPE DC earning $1,370 and Heart to Hand earning $3,500.
Other grantees honored at the ceremony included The DC Center for the LGBT Community, the District’s major LGBT community center, MENTORS, INC., New Ways Ministry, the PFLAG chapters of Metro DC, Carroll County and Columbia-Howard County, St. Margaret’s Church Vestry, also known as Charlie’s Place, and the Washington Renegades Rugby Football Club.
Several awardees expressed their gratitude to BHT for the grants, which will help them continue popular or needed programs and initiatives.
“We’re extremely appreciative of Brother, Help Thyself, and just hearing about the numbers and the amount of money they’ve given to the community over the years is amazing,” said Sultan Shakir, the executive director of Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), a group working with LGBT youth, which received $1,455.
“We’re really excited this year to receive our grant this year from BHT,” said David Perez, president of the Latino GLBT History Project, which received $2,675. “This year we’ll be investing in our cultural programs, different historical exhibits. We’ll have a Women’s History Month celebration, our DC Latino Pride event, and our Latino GLBT History Awards. BHT has been a longtime supporter, and we’re thankful for their continued support. We couldn’t do this without them.”
Ruby Corado, the executive director of Casa Ruby, the community center and service drop-in center that particularly focuses on the LGBT, immigrant and transgender communities, said that the $4,890 awarded to Casa Ruby can be used for a number of services, but most importantly to provide Metro cards and food cards to clients to cover their living and transportation expenses.
“We are very grateful to an entire community that had helped us thrive,” Corado said. “Our clients now have fewer issues to worry about, and now they can focus on fixing their lives and moving on, so that, in the future, they don’t have to rely on our services. So it it is super exciting to know we will be able to provide those services to our clients.”