(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 23, 2013, Orig. Between the Lines)
Playing with the pop-culture theme of James Bond’s 50th Anniversary, Affirmations is preparing for their large annual black-tie affair, the Spring Bash. This year’s theme is “Mission Possible” and their goal is to raise up to 10 percent of their general fund budget with ticket sales, auction items and other sponsorships.
The soiree takes place on Saturday, April 13 at the Westin Book Cadillac, 1114 Washington Blvd., in Detroit. Tickets are $225 for General Admission and $325 for VIP. VIP guests will have complimentary valet, a reception in the Italian Garden from 6-8 p.m. with a hosted bar and hors d’oeuvre and an exclusive performance by Matt Kysia. All guests are welcome to enjoy the Crystal Ballroom Reception and dinner in the Woodward Ballroom. As always there will be a live auction and a silent auction, and other Mission Possible-themed activities.
Mark McMillan is the event and volunteer manager at the Ferndale-based LGBT community center. He and the rest of the 10-person planning committee are hard at work gathering items for the auction and silent auction. This year they are hoping to attract some big-ticket items, though they are also happy to have donations from local businesses of any size.
“We’re really excited because we have been trying to have an event at the Book Cadillac for a long time. It’s a very prestigious, historical building that used to be the tallest building in the city,” McMillan said. The Italian Renaissance-style hotel was built in 1924 and recently restored to its original splendor.
This is the second year that the Spring Bash has been a black-tie affair, providing guests with an unprecedented elegance for LGBT events in Michigan. “Last year we wanted to add to the prestige of our big annual fundraiser and to have an event of this caliber for the LGBT community. We need a time to dress up and have fun, and to appreciate our donors.”
It’s also a great opportunity to be fashionable as elegant dresses and suave tuxedos are the expected attire, though it does not matter which any particular guest selects.
Jeffrey Nelson of The Tux Shop on Woodward, one of the event sponsors, said that last year he was able to rent tuxedos for over 30 men – and women – who attended the Spring Bash. Those who rent from his shop get a 25-percent discount, plus an environment that is welcoming and affirming.
“There’s a trust when people come here,” Nelson said. “They feel comfortable because they see us sponsoring events like this or the same-sex wedding expo.”
Nelson also explained that donating items and sponsoring events like the Spring Bash are rewarding in two ways. “Community involvement is important for a local business. Business reciprocation is noted, and I’m sharing in the growth of the organization.”
McMillan has worked at Affirmations for the past year, after volunteering for the preceding two. For him, events like this mean more than just a good time. They are the means to supporting an organization that he values deeply.
“I’ve always had a relationship with Affirmations. I was a volunteer at the old building and it was instrumental in helping me get sober. My first recovery meetings were over there and I needed to be in an environment where I felt welcomed and safe,” he said.
“After I moved into the new building, I believed in their mission and the new environment. In 2009 I lost the retail job I had. I was working part time and I wanted to stay busy and to use my time to give back, so I volunteered in my free time.”
After working up to being a lead volunteer, McMillan went through the hiring process and was selected as event coordinator. “It’s the best job I’ve had,” he said. “I love doing something that is rewarding and helps so many people.”
He is particularly excited to work on the Spring Bash, especially with the Mission Possible theme. “Mission Possible is to continue to highlight the direction of the center. Everything we accomplish is possible, because of our donors. They’re like the secret agents behind the scenes, and this is our chance to debrief them on what they help Affirmations do.”
To find out more about Affirmations or to buy tickets online, visit http://www.goaffirmations.org.