DVLF celebrates 25 years

DVLF celebrates 25 years

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The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund is looking to continue to fund programs and services for the LGBTQ community with its annual holiday toy-giving event, TOY, which doubles as a celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary.

DVLF has provided financial support to LGBTQ-serving organizations throughout the city and has been said to be crucial in helping emerging nonprofits in the community to grow and achieve sustainability.

“TOY: The Silver Jubilee,” to be held Dec. 15 at the Arts Ballroom in the Gayborhood, will be DVLF’s biggest fundraising event of the year. The grant-giving organization is looking to raise $75,000 to help fund the operations of DVLF, which administers about $50,000 a year in grants from its endowment fund to meet the emerging needs of the LGBTQ community, said Juan Franco, DVLF’s executive director.

“The funds will also support our general operations such as being one of the four organizational collaborators leading the LGBTQ Leadership Pipeline program,” Franco said. “The city’s program focuses on recruiting and increasing the number of people of color, trans individuals, youth and elders serving as board members at a Philadelphia LGBTQ nonprofit organization.”

DVLF was founded in 1993 after co-founder John Cunningham considered developing a partnership between the LGBTQ community and The Philadelphia Foundation— the oldest community foundation in the country that serves the five counties of the Greater Philadelphia area. The partnership was intended to expand funding to address the quality-of-life issues for the community beyond HIV/AIDS treatment. In its first three years, DVLF distributed more than $250,000 in grants. In addition to annual grantmaking, DVLF developed a community endowment to fund projects in accordance with the wishes of donors.

The LGBT Elder Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for services for older LGBT adults, received funding from DVLF in 2013 and 2017. David Griffin, LEI’s director of programs and outreach, said as a smaller agency, “we’re not getting money from the state or from the city. For us, it’s been helpful to have community foundations support the work that we’re doing.”

The DVLF grants helped to fund LEI’s strategic-planning initiative as well as its community-forum series on isolationism faced by aging LGBT adults. Griffin said the discussions resulted in a fair that connected older adults with volunteer opportunities at local aging-services organizations.

“We were able to help some of those people overcome their isolation issues and connect them with community members to build up their support networks,” he added.

TOY, which launched in 2006, is DVLF’s annual holiday fundraiser where attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy, which, in the past, has been given to patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This year, toy donations will be given to Action Wellness, a nonprofit service organization that assists people living with chronic diseases to sustain and enhance their quality of life. Guests can also donate monetary donations in lieu of toys that will be donated to Action Wellness to purchase toys, Franco said.

“This year’s TOY is a special version of our annual fundraiser. All attendees will be helping us to continue our legacy by amplifying our efforts to empower and advance the LGBTQ community through grant-making, scholarships, advocacy, community leadership development and education,” he said.

The anniversary celebration will also recognize DVLF’s 2018-2019 LGBTQ Emerging Needs grant recipients: Till Arts Project; Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus; Qunify; Einstein Health’s Pride Clinic; William Way LGBT Community Center; Philadelphia Futures; GALAEI; Valley Youth House and Siloam Wellness. Each grantee will receive a grant award in the amount of $2,500 or $5,000.

Kahari McKie, coordinator of Valley Youth House’s Pride Program — the longest-running housing program for LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia — said the $5,000 grant will go to supporting the newly established Pride Program Task Force. The group is a collection of LGBTQ young adults who have experienced housing instability.

Sarina DiBianca, executive director of Siloam Wellness, an organization that provides “integrative mind, body and spirit services” for those living with HIV/AIDS, said she was “humbled” to be a recipient.

“It’s incredible to have an organization that provides support to all individuals to be their true, authentic selves,” DiBianca said.

Neha Ghosh, co-founder of the LGBTQ social community group Qunify, said the grant will help continue the group’s mission to “create completely inclusive and accessible spaces and events for all queer people.”

“TOY: The Silver Jubilee” will also feature a performance by out comedian Matteo Lane, a silent auction and music provided by DJ Carl Michaels. The evening will be hosted by Raymond Smeriglio, the Philadelphia Eagles pregame host.

For the first time, DVLF will host a TOY afterparty at Voyeur Nightclub where admission is free for TOY attendees.  

TOY: The Silver Jubilee” will take place 7:30-10:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at The Arts Ballroom, 1324 Locust St, followed by the TOY afterparty at 10:30 p.m. at Voyeur Nightclub, 1221 St. James St. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.dvlf.org/toy.

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