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Brother, Help Thyself, the organization that provides financial support to LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS nonprofits in the Baltimore-D.C. region, presented $71,500 to 26 nonprofits at its annual grant reception on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the DC Eagle.
Founded in 1978, BHT has awarded 1,158 individual grants totaling over $3.3 million to 198 distinct nonprofits. Many of the nonprofits that receive the grants are often overlooked and use the money to fill gaps in vital services or to keep programs that benefit various communities operational.
“It’s just an amazing feeling to make even a small difference for all the great organizations that are supporting our communities,” BHT President Nina Love, who is presiding over their first grant reception since assuming the presidency.
The organization also announced that it would change its name to The BHT Foundation to reflect the evolution of its mission over time and the expanded diversity of the types of communities it assists through its grants.
“I am proud to be a part of the evolution of BHT and even prouder that it comes as part of this inaugural event of the BHT Foundation,” Love added. “I love our new name and our new board — we honor our history while evolving to become what our communities need today: a diverse group of leaders that reflect the diverse communities we are privileged to serve.”
The organization has three separate funds set up to benefit various programs. Grants from BHT’s Richard Van Der Karr Memorial HIV/AIDS Fund are used to benefit programs dealing with HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and education.
Grants from the Medford Fund are those earmarked for the purchase of tangible capital goods that are used in conjunction with delivering services to LGBTQ or HIV/AIDS communities. Grants from the General Fund support nonprofits that provide athletic, cultural, educational, historic, or social programs that benefit the LGBTQ community.
Organizations receiving the most money were Breaking Ground, a program incorporating theater and the performing arts as part of an exploration of various topics affecting LGBTQ youth of color, which received $10,600, and SMYAL, the local LGBTQ youth advocacy group, which received $7,790. Both of those amounts include $2,500 each from the Billy McCoy Thompson, Jr. Memorial Fund, set up last year to assist youth-centric organizations.
Additional organizations receiving significant amounts of grant money included HOPE DC, the social and advocacy group providing support for HIV-positive individuals in the D.C. area, which receive $6,000; AIDS Action Baltimore, which received $3,850; the Rainbow Youth Alliance, which received $3,810; Mary’s House for Older Adults, which serves senior populations within the LGBTQ community, and received $3,740; the sex worker and LGBTQ advocacy organization HIPS DC, which received $3,570; and HopeSprings, a Baltimore-based HIV/AIDS advocacy group, which received $3,460.
Other organizations honored include: the Baltimore Men’s Chorus; Black, Gifted & Whole; the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop; Charlie’s Place, an LGBTQ-affirming homeless outreach ministry; the DC Area Transmasculine Society; The DC Center; DC’s Different Drummers; FreeState Justice; the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington; the Latinx LGBTQ civil rights organization LULAC Lambda; the Mid-Atlantic Deaf Interpreter Fund; New Ways Ministry; PFLAG Columbia; the Pride Center of Maryland; Rainbow Families; the Rainbow History Project; the Transgender Education Association; and the Washington Renegades gay rugby team.
BHT also presented four non-monetary community service awards to individuals who have worked on behalf of the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton was honored with the Anthony J. Bachrach Award, given to an individual demonstrating outstanding service to the community. Norton has long been recognized for her advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community, and her efforts in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the District by pushing for prevention initiatives like the DC Needle Exchange Program.
“I am particularly grateful to Brother, Help Thyself for its extraordinary service to our residents,” Norton said in a statement. “We recognize the importance of Brother, Help Thyself in the District, where the AIDS epidemic is the legacy of the ban on the use of needle exchange until I was finally able to get Congress to remove it.”
In addition to Norton, LULAC Lambda was honored with the Billy Collison Award, recognizing an “underdog” grantee who does a lot with limited resources (and received $1,820 in grant money this year). Damien Ministries was honored with the Founders Award, which is given to a nonprofit for outstanding service to the community. Meanwhile, Jim Slattery, the longtime BHT member and current grants chair, was honored with the President’s Award, given to an individual or organization that serves as a source of inspiration to BHT’s president.
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