When Robert York moved to D.C. 24 years ago, he knew very few people in the city. Young, gay, only recently out and in need of friends, he began volunteering with local LGBTQ organizations to meet other members of the community.
Later this month, York will celebrate his 50th birthday. And as a mark of respect to the organizations that welcomed him two decades ago, York is holding a club night fundraiser to benefit several charities and nonprofits special to him.
“This has been an idea that has been in my head for over a year and a half, maybe two years, knowing that I was about to celebrate a milestone birthday,” says York. “This is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the community for what I’ve been able to experience, but it’s also a chance to highlight some organizations, and give money back to them so they can continue to make a difference.”
York has partnered with Town Danceboutique to host the celebration, which will feature music by DJ Chord, DJ Grind and DJ Twin, as well as performances by Brian Justin Crum, Frenchie Davis, Simone Denny, and Beth Anne Sacks. Tickets costs $25, and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Athlete Ally, Capital Pride, Capital Trans Pride, Dogs Rescue and City Kitties, NMAC, Trevor Project DC, and the ziMS Foundation.
“[These are] charities that I have worked with over the years that are near and dear to my heart,” says York, who has either volunteered, worked for, or sits on boards of directors for the beneficiaries.
York wants to foster a spirit of philanthropy among members of the LGBTQ community, as financial support is essential to keeping some low-budget nonprofits solvent. With decreasing government revenues and cuts to crucial programs, many organizations are relying on smaller dollar private donations.
“I think now more than ever we’re going to have to step up and really help our neighbors in those organizations to survive, because there are people that literally depend on that assistance on a daily basis to make ends meet,” he says. “I learned early on from my mom and dad that it was better to help people as much as you can, because you never know when you’re going to need the help yourself.”
Robert York’s “Champions for Charity” 50th Birthday Celebration is on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 5-10 p.m. at Town Danceboutique, 2009 8th St. NW. For tickets and more information, visit championsforcharity.eventbrite.com.
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