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Young Donors ’En MASQ’ Raise $40K for Center Youth

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday Feb 8, 2013

A capacity crowd gathered at the Bowery Hotel on the evening of Feb. 2 for MASQ, an elegant masquerade ball hosted by the Young Leaders Council of the LGBT Center. The event raised $40,000 for Center Youth Programs.

Center Executive Director Glennda Testone pointed to the importance of the Youth Enrichment Services program administered at the Center, which provides people between the ages of 13 and 21 with a safe environment to figure out who they are.

"For some young people the Center is the only place that supports all of who they are," Testone said. "The Center's youth services offer a positive environment in which they can find community, take advantage of leadership opportunities, have an artistic outlet and so much more."

The icy snow may have been swirling outside, but inside, it was a hot crowd. Over 550 guests battled the winter blues by donning festive masks and imbibing Smirnoff cocktails at the open bar. Masked man in leather gear dancing on go-go boxes handcrafted by a Brooklyn lesbian artist specifically for the event helped get things even hotter. Models in Gothic dress roamed the crowd while posing as mannequins. In keeping with the chic of it all, the after-party was held at the lesbian bar of the moment, The Dalloway in Tribeca.

YLC co-chairs Erica Kagen and Michael Evans were ecstatic with the turnout and the festive atmosphere. Andrea Minkow, a YLC member, was the event's impresario, who planned the whole affair via her event company, Eventage.

A Sort-Of Gay Junior League (Only Hotter)

She described YLC as "a sort of junior board comprised of younger members of the center" who reach out to their peers to raise much-needed funds to keep the center’s many programs going.

YES is only one of many youth programs offered at the center, which helps teens and young adults with personal career planning, edging them toward community service, arts programs, mentoring and even a summer camp.

"This LGBT-specific programming makes a real difference in people’s lives," Testone said. "It gives our youth the support and sense of self that that every young person deserves."

YLC Involved in More Than Fund-Raising

The members of the Youth Leaders Council do a lot more than just fundraise. Many of them are hands on and put in real time to help LGBT youth. They conducted a career panel, where 10 professionals spoke with center youth about what they do, how they got there and how to be out in the workplace, as well as offering mentoring opportunities.

In the summer, YLC hosts a cocktail party once a month and everyone’s invited.

"We’re open to people coming in with a creative idea to benefit the youth in the center, be it community service or an art project," said Minkow. "We’re a bit fluid in wanting people 20 to 40 to get involved in a way that is meaningful to them."

MASQ itself was a way for many younger people to become more involved in the center and to learn about its mission. "As I walked through the party, people kept pulling me aside to say how excited they were to be there," Minkow.

A Fun Crowd

This was one of those events where even the staff at the hosting venue got into the groove. Minkow noted how well the staff and guests interacted and of an overall infectious feeling of bonhomie that pervaded the Bowery Hotel.

"The venue manager told me that he had held hundreds of events in that room, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen a group of people so dedicated to the cause, so connected and committed to raising money and taking care of each other and their community," Minkow said. "I’m an event producer, and you just don’t hear that kind of thing very often. It was very exciting."

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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