West Hollywood business owners decided to raise $20,000 for the Los Angeles LGBT Center–and they did it all on their own.
The group says they were inspired by the spirit of the LA Pride Resist March and wanted to do something that would have a direct social benefit locally.
The grassroots fundraising effort was led by Larry Block, owner of The Block Party on Santa Monica Boulevard. He presented the money to the Center at this week’s West Hollywood City Council meeting.
“It was something everybody could really get behind,” Block says. “The reputation of the Center is something that stands on its own. My neighbors were very comfortable about making their checks out to the Center.”
It has meant a lot to the business owners to have the Center’s West Hollywood facility, the Los Angeles LGBT Center-WeHo, in the neighborhood since the fall of 2015.
Located over Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Gym Sportsbar, the Center-WeHo provides the most current testing and treatment options for HIV and STDs and offers PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
Says Block: “It’s something the neighborhood can see, feel and touch – it’s here with us. They are part of us. The Center’s outreach programs are right here in the belly of the neighborhood.”
Block had initially decided to sell Pride T-shirts to raise money. But when sales failed to take off, Block figured he’d donate $1,000 of his own money and call it a day.
When he mentioned this to his neighbors on the block, Micky’s, Revolver and Flaming Saddles, the owners of those businesses decided to donate money too.
It caught on from there and the LGBT retail, dining and nightlife area known as Boystown was basically all in.
Tom Doherty, owner of Café d’Etoile, joined the effort and helped to get 90% of the more than 40 business owners on the block to contribute. Any that could not, Doherty and Block made a contribution in their name.
“If we hit one fundraising level, I’d try and hit the next level, as long as there was time–and the time kept getting extended,” Block says.
Center CEO Lorri L. Jean expressed her tremendous gratitude.
“I’ve never been more proud to shop, eat and drink in WeHo,” said Jean. “We’re incredibly moved by the tremendous generosity of these business owners and individuals, and particularly to Larry and Tom for spearheading this initiative. With so much of our federal funding at risk, we’re more dependent than ever on the support of individuals and businesses, so these donations couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Below is a full list of contributing businesses:
Kreation Organic Juicery
Making individual contributions were Dr. Ruben Alvarez, Jeff Book, John Bowab, Donald Deluccio, Eric Lee, Manny Rodriguez, and a gift in honor of Richard Blonz.