SPRINGFIELD – The AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts (AFWM) proudly announced today that the organization is looking forward to its 15th annual Viva! Gala, to be held Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke at 6:30 p.m. Featuring live and silent auctions, a beautiful venue, and live entertainment from incomparable performer Randy Roberts, this year’s celebration promises to be a night of revel and friendship, and a wonderful way to commemorate the New Year.
“Funds raised at Viva! ensure that AFWM can support people who are living with HIV/AIDS in our community throughout the year,” said Jessica Crevier, AFWM’s Executive Director. “It helps us to maintain office hours, so that people may come and learn more about HIV/AIDS, prevention, the testing and services that are available locally, and the grants of emergency financial assistance that we provide. It allows us to grow increasingly accessible to the community through our new website and programming. And it allows us to remain a safe and supportive space for people who are infected, affected, or seeking education to come and be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
Initially known as The Masquerade Ball, the Gala was created in 1997 to raise money for people living with HIV and AIDS in our community. The show consisted of three local performers, one spotlight, and a DJ. With bad weather, 150 supporters attended the first Ball and $1,000 was raised. Now the Ball is a major fund-raising event for AFWM, supporting the cost of maintaining its office, staff, and operations.
“AFWM provides grants of emergency financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS in Hampden and Hampshire counties,” Crevier added. “Each application is reviewed based on its own merit, and can help to provide housing for the homeless or those who are behind on their rent or mortgage, assistance with medical or pharmacy bills, utility payments to prevent the lights or heat from being shut off, furniture to improve quality of life, and so much more. We offer educational programming, spearheaded by our Massachusetts Department of Public Health certified Peer Educators, who speak at health events, in schools, and are looking to expand their reach in 2012. And we co-sponsor Living Positive, a support group for men who are living with HIV/AIDS, in conjunction with The Research Institute. AFWM is growing quickly, and so we’re looking to expand our programming in 2012 to include more prevention education, support groups, and a conference on National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day.”
In 2010, the Ball was renamed Viva!, defining it as a celebration of life. Now in its 15th year, the Gala welcomes over 500 supporters to the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House and raises over $37,000.
Many people perform, work, and donate behind the scenes to make the gala a great success. Donations can be sent at 1168 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103. To have a sneak peek at the Silent Auction items in January, visit the AFWM via Fecebook at www.facebook.com/AIDSfoundWM. The AFWM looks forward to the continued support of its volunteers and patrons. Your generosity allows the organization to help our neighbors sustain their independence and retain their dignity. To purchase tickets, please visit aidsfoundationwm.org or call (413) 301-0955. Viva! is presented by the Log Cabin/Delaney House, C&W Realty, Baystate Health, and New England Pathology Associates, P.C.