Metro Weekly

BHT presents $75,000 in grants to local nonprofits

Annual ceremony honors those who have dedicated their work on behalf to LGBT and HIV-related causes

Ron Simmons (r) with John Fanning at the BHT Awards – Photo: John Riley

Brother, Help Thyself, the local organization that provides grants to assist local LGBTQ and HIV-related nonprofits, awarded a total of – $75,170 to 30 organizations at its annual awards reception on Saturday, January 28. The organization has awarded over – $3 million in its 38-year history.

“I’m very proud of our city, and I’m proud to be mayor at this very challenging time for our city, our nation and our values,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told the crowd that filled the third floor of The DC Eagle. “What Brother, Help Thyself is doing could be even more important. One thing we can do is support organizations that are effective in our community, because we may need to do more privately if the federal government steps back.”

The largest grant this year — – $7,800 — went to Mary’s House for Older Adults. Rounding out the five largest awards were Black, Gifted and Whole, which got – $5,000 followed by the sex worker advocacy organization HIPS DC (- $4,810), LGBT community center Casa Ruby (- $4,570), and Charlie’s Place/St. Margaret’s Church Vestry (- $4,200). The smallest grant, – $200, went to the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

Imani Woody, the founding director and president of Mary’s House, said the grant money will help her organization in its mission of allowing LGBT elders a place to age without having to “re-closet” themselves. In her acceptance speech, she thanked BHT for recognizing how important advocacy on behalf of that community is.

The awards ceremony included performances by two grantees — the theater troupe Breaking Ground (- $4,120) and D.C. Different Drummers (- $1,340).

BHT also honored a handful of individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the D.C.-Baltimore region LGBT community. Earning the Anthony J. Bachrach Award for Outstanding Service was Freddie Lutz, owner of Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington. The LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund was awarded the Billy Collison award, designated for the grantee who is considered an “underdog.” The organization was given – $2,000 in grants this year.

Tagg Magazine was given the George Dodson Business Award for its coverage and service to Queer women. The Founders Award was presented to Us Helping Us for its decades of service combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. BHT’s board of directors honored Jeffrey Grabelle of AIDS Action Baltimore for more than 25 years of service to Baltimore’s HIV/AIDS community.

Dr. Ron Simmons, who recently retired as the executive director of Us Helping Us, says earning the Founders Award was “a complete surprise.”

“You saw I cried when I received the award,” Simmons told Metro Weekly. “But I cry very easily. I’m very emotional,”  “It’s just one more indication of the blessings I’ve had in building Us Helping Us. It’s not for me — it’s for those incredible guys who were there from the beginning, who were there when we had nothing.”

Recipients at BHT’s 2017 Grant Awards Ceremony.

Several of the organizations approved for grants were new recipients. BHT President Jim Slattery hopes the money will help the newer organizations thrive. “I was especially proud of the infusion of new blood that came and asked for funds this year,” he said.

A complete list of this year’s grantees follows:

AIDS Action Baltimore – $2,760.00

Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, Inc. – $1,000.00

Black, Gifted and Whole – $5,000.00

Breaking Ground – $4,120.00

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop – $200.00

Casa Ruby Inc. – $4,570.00

D.C.’s Different Drummers – $1,340.00

Empowering the Transgender Community – $3,830.00

FreeState Justice – $1,450.00

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington – $810.00

Health Options and Positive Energy Foundation (HOPE DC) – $1,540.00

Heart to Hand, Inc. – $2,210.00

HIPS DC – $4,810.00

HopeSprings, Inc. – $3,880.00

LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund – $2,000.00

LGBT Latino History Project – $1,410.00

Mary’s House for Older Adults – $7,800.00

Metro DC Community Center, Inc (The DC Center) – $300.00

New Ways Ministry Inc. – $1,960.00

PFLAG – Carroll County – $1,420.00

PFLAG – Metro DC – $1,860.00

Project Healthy Living – $3,240.00

Rainbow History Project – $2,250.00

SMYAL – $2,310.00

St. Margaret’s Church Vestry/Charlie’s Place – $4,200.00

START at Westminster – $1,220.00

The Women’s Collective – $1,250.00

Rainbow Youth Alliance – $3,000.00

Wanda Alston Foundation – $2,300.00

Washington Renegades Rugby Football Club, Inc – $1,130.00

Learn more about BHT’s grants at

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