Fenway Health’s Women’s Dinner Party Raises Funds for Women’s Health

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fenway_womens_smBy: Brook Rosini/Special to The Rainbow Times–

BOSTON, Mass. — The Women’s Dinner Party is an annual fundraiser for Fenway Health that brings together more than 1,200 lesbian, transgender, and bisexual women and their friends and supporters for a night of dinner and dancing. This year, the Women’s Dinner Party will be held on Saturday, April 6, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. The event starts out with mingling and a silent auction, with the program and dinner taking place at 7, followed by dancing. The Women’s Dinner Party serves as a social event for women in the LGBT community, and raises awareness of women’s health issues as well as funds for Fenway Health.

According to Timothy Harwood, Vice President of Development at Fenway Health, The Women’s Dinner Party was the first event of its kind in the country. Now in its twenty-second year, Harwood characterizes the first Dinner Party as a guerilla effort to instill philanthropy and increase the patient population by presenting Fenway’s women’s health services before over 500 elegantly dressed women.

“It was also hoped that it would galvanize the attention of Fenway’s Board and staff and result in an increased focus on women’s health,” Harwood says.

As a result of its success, Fenway’s development office ended up creating a similar gala for men – The Men’s Event.

“Both events raise critical unrestricted funds that allow us to provide care and services to every person who comes through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay,” explains Harwood. “This helps us do things like begin offering mammograms to help detect breast cancer early, before it can be felt and when it is easier to treat; help nearly 300 victims of bias crimes, domestic violence, sexual assault and police misconduct each year; care for nearly 1,800 young people at our Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center; and provide more than $300,000 in free and discounted medication to patients in need each year.”

Although both events serve essentially the same function, the difference is in the audience they serve. “Everyone is welcome at either event, but the crowd at The Women’s Dinner Party tends to be made up of lesbian and bisexual women, transgender people, and their friends and supporters. The Men’s Event skews more heavily towards gay and bisexual men, transgender people, and their friends and supporters,” says Harwood. “Both events are a lot of fun!”

Co-chaired this year by Lori Griffiths, Pat Hamilton, and Jennifer L. Jones, all women who are active supporters of and advocates for the LGBT community, the event is also an occasion for presenting the Dr. Susan M. Love award. The award is given to honor and celebrate a woman or organization that has made a significant contribution to the field of women’s health. The Love Award is given in honor of its founding recipient, Dr. Susan M. Love, a pioneer in the fields of women’s health and breast cancer.

This year, the Love Award will go to Dr. Ursula Matulonis, Medical Director and Disease Center Leader of the Medical Gynecologic Oncology Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Through her long and distinguished career as a physician and a researcher Dr. Matulonis has proved her commitment to the health and wellbeing of women everywhere. Like Dr. Love, Dr. Matulonis is a leader in her field of gynecologic cancer care, treatment, and research, caring above all else for the health of the individual.

“Dr. Matulonis is a true inspiration who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of women with cancer. Warm and compassionate on the personal level and a thought leader in the scientific community, she has significantly advanced our knowledge on how to treat ovarian and uterine cancers,” said Dr. Jennifer Potter, Director of Women’s Health at Fenway and a former Love Award winner. “A strong advocate for systems change, she also works tirelessly to improve the entire experience of cancer care, from initial diagnosis through years of survivorship and end of life care. I am thrilled to see her honored with this award.”

To donate to Fenway Health or purchase tickets to the Women’s Dinner Party, visit www.womensdinnerparty.org or call 617.927.6350.

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