Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Tenderloin Health Reception at the Clift Hotel: Support Despite Severe Budget Cuts

Tenderloin Health hosted a gala reception at the luxurious Clift Hotel in San Francisco’s theater district on June 16, 2009. The hotel’s swank and softly lit penthouse provided a beautiful setting and spectacular city views for a large turnout of clients, supporters, donors, and friends of the agency. Huge floral displays and the impressive fireplace were admired by the well-dressed guests, many attired for work downtown.

Tenderloin Health was founded to provide maximum mental and physical health services for the Tenderloin’s neediest citizens. A goal is to establish self-esteem and then stabilization with housing and jobs for people vulnerable to the worst of the Tenderloin’s streets and alleys.

The evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction that featured Steven Saylor’s popular ancient Greek and Roman murder mystery novels. Saylor was on hand to interact with his fans, and the Frameline LGBT Film Festival was also represented with dozens of other desirable donors of goods and services.

Chuck Gee & Friends performed the evening’s entertainment with just the right musical note, and with the stiff and quickly poured cocktails, guests mingled and signed up for auction items. The lamb chops were judged to be superb, and the red wine was a fine choice.

San Francisco City Supervisor Bevan Dufty was in the program as master of ceremonies, but he was engrossed in The City’s torturous budget deliberations, so board member Troy Brunet, who was a client, stepped forward to express the board’s appreciation for the agency’s work and to honor former executive director Tracy Brown’s vision in merging Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center (TARC) and Continuum HIV Day Services. Tenderloin Health was the result of the merger, and more than 12,000 residents used its services last year, which was possible because of Tracy Brown’s perception that the single agency would be more efficient.

MC Troy Brunet then introduced board of directors chair David Krimm, who spoke about his satisfaction in knowing that Tenderloin Health had increased its programs despite cuts in its budget and revealed that he was stepping down after years on the board, to be replaced by Andy Chen. Krimm also thanked the professional caregivers who make the agency’s work possible.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer sent her aide Megan Miller to the event, and she read a proclamation from the senator. A large framed proclamation from California State Senators Mark Leno and Leland Yee was on display, and a certificate from Fiona Ma was also on the mantle. A client named Mark Myers read a charming poem of appreciation.

The moment that everyone was waiting for, the introduction of the honoree Tracy Brown, came with an unfortunate surprise. Brown had to step down from Tenderloin Health because of illness, and it was announced that he would not be there to accept his trophy and proclamations because of his illness — under orders from his doctor. There was a suggestion that much drama was involved when Tracy Brown was given the news. New executive director Colm Hegarty introduced Tracy Brown’s lover of 18 years, Gregory Holland, and he accepted the trophy for Brown. Greg Holland is the Chief Executive Officer of for the Shorenstein Theater Company that is presenting the amazing “Wicked” at the Orpheum Theater, and he and his company are strong supporters of Tenderloin Health. Holland and Hegarty made it clear that Tracy Brown saw unnecessary suffering in the Tenderloin, and he set out to do something about it. Tenderloin Health and it successes and the hope that it brings are a tribute to him.

Notable patrons and supporters at the reception included philanthropist Timothy Wu, Positive Resource Center executive director Brett Andrews, Carlos Bermudez and Sarabh Bajaj from API Wellness Center, Troy Brunet’s friend John Kiltinen, and political analyst Wayne Friday.

There was a scramble to sign up for last minute silent auction bids. The party was officially over at 8:00PM, but the more effervescent guests hovered around the bar until almost 9:00, the mark of a successful event — guests don't want to leave.

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