Metro Weekly

The BHT Foundation is shutting down. Read the board’s letter here.

The organization was established in 1978 to offer financial support to D.C.-area nonprofits working with the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV/AIDS.

bht foundation, brother help thyself
BHT’s float from the 2015 Capital Pride Parade – File Photo

The BHT Foundation, an organization established to provide financial support to D.C. and Baltimore-area nonprofits working with the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV/AIDS, announced on Friday afternoon that it will dissolve after 43 years of service.

Formed in 1978 by four local motorcycle clubs under the name “Brother, Help Thyself,” the organization’s first-ever grant was awarded to the Gay Men’s VD Clinic of Washington, D.C., the predecessor to Whitman-Walker Clinic and the current-day community health center Whitman-Walker Health.

Throughout the years, and particularly at the height of the AIDS crisis in the United States, BHT helped leverage critical funding to help grassroots organizations serving those affected by the disease — funding that was otherwise nearly impossible for smaller nonprofits to obtain.

Since that time, the organization has raised more than $3.5 million benefitting over 200 different community nonprofits.

BHT Foundation has also partnered with some of its grantees to provide training and leadership, collaborated on fundraisers, acted as a clearinghouse for donated goods and services, and served as an information resource for the LGBTQ community.

The organization also hosted an extremely popular LGBTQ Pride Night at King’s Dominion for more than a decade, starting in the late 1990s and continuing throughout much of the current decade.

In an email sent out to supporters by current president Paul Marengo, and later copied to its Facebook page, the foundation’s Board of Directors announced that, after much internal debate, it would be shuttering the organization. The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Communities:
Brother, Help Thyself was first formed to provide a grant to the Gay Men’s VD Clinic in Washington, DC, which led to the creation of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Since 1978, the organization has raised and distributed over $3.5 million to more than 200 groups in our community. Over the years, BHT has been more than a grant-awarding organization, but also partnered with grantee organizations, provided training and leadership, collaborating on fundraisers and other events, acting as a clearinghouse for donated goods and services, and serving as an information resource to the LGBTQ/SGL communities.
It is with great sadness that, after forty-three years of Building Helping Transforming our surrounding communities, the Board of Directors of the BHT Foundation has decided to dissolve the organization. This decision was not reached lightly. When Brother, Help Thyself was founded in 1978 by four gay motorcycle clubs, it was one of the first organizations in the US to provide funding for LGBTQ/SGL health, culture, and social services. Throughout the AIDS crisis, BHT helped to leverage critical funding, at a time when it was severely lacking in other areas.
Today we have come to the determination that it is no longer needed in the same way. There is no doubt that BHT will be missed. However, the Board of Directors has every confidence that the many non-profit and community organizations serving LGBTQ/SGL communities of the Baltimore/DC region and beyond are today in a much better place to acquire resources, thanks to the over four decades of work by the clubs and members of BHT. “Building Helping Transforming.”
The Board of Directors is currently in the process of determining final distribution of assets to non-profit and charitable organizations in the region. More information will be forthcoming. Thank you all for your decades of supporting the BHT Foundation.
BHT Foundation Board of Directors
This is a developing story.
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