A real leather saddle was displayed on a stand. A sequin-studded cowboy hat sat atop a piano. Young women with crowns on their heads, like Miss Carrollton Natalie Merrell, sold raffle tickets. And Steve Kemble — dressed in a man-in-black outfit Johnny Cash might have envied — was working the room. The setting was the Resource Center‘s Toast to Life Sponsor Appreciation Party at the 3525 Turtle Creek Boulevard condo building on Friday, February 21.
Inside the building’s Turtle Room, an estimated 100 guests had gathered to celebrate in advance of the Resource Center’s 22nd Annual Toast to Life — Sequins & Saddles event, slated for Saturday, April 4, at the Empire Room. Steve will host Sequins & Saddles, which is the signature fundraiser for the Resource Center, whose services and programs empower the LGBTQ community and all people affected by HIV.
Greeting the attendees in the Turtle Room was Cece Cox, the center’s busy CEO. Earlier that day, Cece had an op-ed about corporate support for LGBTQ issues published in The Dallas Morning News. The same day had also featured the World Affairs Council LGBTQ Symposium at SMU, attended by a sold-out crowd of 260-plus, for which the Resource Center was a partner.
Not far from Cece were Brittanie Buchanan Oleniczak and Darin Kunz, co-chairs of the April fundraiser, as well as Sponsor Appreciation Party Hosts Dr. Steven Pounders and Jimmy O’Reilly. Also in the crowd were Rick Wilson, Edgar Negron, Amanda Whatley, Lacey Brutschy, Joffa Laroe, Durward Watson and Reid Bonner.
Meantime, Resource Center Chief Development Officer Cameron Hernholm was saying the center hopes the April 4 bash will exceed the take last year, when 600 attended. The proceeds will be welcome, as the nonprofit has more than doubled its annual budget — from $5 million in 2013 to $14.7 million — and embarked on a 2020 capital campaign to build an affordable housing facility for LGBTQ seniors. Cameron said the Resource Center’s “Out for Safe Schools” partnership with DISD also more than doubled in 2019. That program, the only one of its kind in North Texas, trains local schools employees like teachers, cafeteria workers and bus drivers how to protect LGBTQ students from bullying.
Sponsorships and tickets are available here!
* Photo credit: Sheryl Lanzel Photography