by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
The Capitol Hill Alano Club (CHAC) is in great shape, and in a much different position than it was just 30 days ago. CHAC's Staying Alive fundraising campaign has swelled to an impressive $25,000. According to CHAC officials, the original projections, without the new funding, projected CHAC with only $1,123 banked at the end of this month - not enough money to pay outstanding bills required and forcing them to shut down. Today, CHAC and the community they serve are singing a different tune: one of appreciation, pride, and a real sense of what Seattle's LGBT and recovery communities are capable of doing. CHAC is here to stay.
"We at CHAC would like the community to know that we will continue to provide a safe place for people to attend twelve-step recovery meetings," Aaron Emde, CHAC web/IT member-at-large, told SGN. "Thanks to the Capitol Hill community, if you need help from alcohol addiction, drug addiction, sex addiction, overeating, or dealing with a loved one who struggles with addiction, we will continue to be there."
CHAC said major donations came from Gay City, the Apex Foundation, the Aleksa Manila & Friends fundraiser, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Group Health, and the Knights of Mantra, with additional assistance provided by the Seattle Gay News.
"The remainder of our fundraising came from the CHAC community itself once they became aware of the need," Ken Thibodeaux CHAC treasurer, told SGN. "Immediately upon being notified, the group's using CHAC meeting spaces increased their 'pass the basket' rent to CHAC by 40% - well above historical amounts. Some of the meetings, such as the non-Gay Spanish-language meeting, made additional contributions. Scores of individuals went to the CHAC website and joined the club by making a $150 contribution. Several members sought matching contributions from their employers through annual workplace giving efforts. Additionally, donations came from virtually everyone who came through the front door. CHAC members donated anything they could spare."
And the community isn't done yet. On August 14, from 6-8:30 p.m., The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Abbey of Saint Joan and Seattle Quake Rugby RFC will face off in a game of kickball - with a twist. Modeled after the CHAC Bat N' Rouge softball game, audience members can make a cash donation to score a point, strip a rugby player of his shorts, or making a rugby player get painted in sister-face, among other options. Seattle drag sensation Lily Armani is scheduled to emcee the event, which costs a $5 suggested donation. The game is scheduled for the Bobby Morris Playfield at Cal Anderson Park.
"In keeping with the twelve-step philosophy that guides our course, CHAC has always been a lean operation, spending everything it earned on member services," Thibodeaux continued. "In 2009, CHAC had large unexpected expenses to repair the air conditioning on the building it currently rents, and this was followed by disappointing results from our largest fundraisers, the sale of Christmas trees in November and December. The CHAC Board began spending freezes at the time, in anticipation of new funds from the annual June event, Bat N' Rouge. On the night of June 19, 2010, the CHAC Board counted the receipts from the event and realized the end was near."
According to Thibodeaux, financial projections showed that CHAC would not be able to pay rent after August 1, and would even have to struggle to pay bills already due in order to shut the doors. Further projections showed that CHAC wouldn't have any money to fund a 2010 Christmas tree fundraiser.
That is when the community sprang into action.
"The Staying Alive support from the community means that CHAC is well positioned to stage that holiday fundraiser. In addition, the CHAC Board is creating new fundraising events to occur throughout the year in order to diversify its income sources," Thibodeaux told SGN. "Spending remains tightly controlled, with only vital operating needs being authorized for payment. The CHAC Board and CHAC community recognizes that the generosity of the larger Seattle community has created an opportunity for not only continued operations, but renewed and reinvigorated ways to continue playing our part as a member of the Seattle LGBT community by keeping this place safe and open for all."
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