Darwin Thompson turns 30 on June 29. But instead of birthday presents, he’s asking for donations to help black gay and trans men.
“The ’30 for 30’ is the campaign that I am looking to fund the programs next year,” Thompson, the executive director of the Atlanta nonprofit NAESM, Inc., said. “My goal is to raise $30,000 by my birthday, and we’re about $10,000 in by now.”
Donations will help fund the continued existence of the Hangout.
The Hangout Drop-In Center provides sexual education, programming, mental health counseling, access to MARTA passes, community meals and other aspects geared toward holistic health of the LGBT community, especially African-American individuals with HIV.
“We opened the Hangout Dec. 1, 2016, with a generous grant from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. To get the program up and running, we did have some funding for it, and we’re writing other proposals and grants to fund the program, but as of right now we only have the seed funding,” Thompson said.
He said it’s important to him to ensure these services are available for black, gay men in Atlanta because the city has such high infection rates, and it’s a trend that needs to be reversed.
Though the official campaign goes through the end of June, NAESM will continue to accept donations for “30 for 30” through Dec. 31.
“It costs $114,000 to actually provide services, staff salaries, program expenses,” Thompson said.
Donations can be made online, over the phone, mailed to NAESM or dropped off by the office. Thompson said donations can be made in any amount, but he’s encouraging donors to give $30, $300 or $3,000 — all of which is tax-deductible.