Halloween will be in full swing at the Carnevale Four Seasons costume gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta tonight. This gala is a major fundraiser for Jerusalem House, a non-profit that assists people living with HIV.
“The costume contest is always fun with cash and prizes for the winners,” says Alex Wan, director of development for Jerusalem House and also the only openly gay member of the Atlanta City Council. “We have celebrity guest judges this year. I am thrilled to have the support of my colleague, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Also judging will be WSB-TV weekend anchors John Bachman and Linda Stouffer.”
In addition to the costume contest there will also be raffle drawings at the party. Up for grabs are a weekend in New York City, a private dinner for eight catered by Tony Conway, a week in Costa Rica, an event in a private box at Phillips Arena, a wine collection and a stay in the mountains. The tickets are $10 each or three for $25. Those tickets are available for purchase online at www.JerusalemHouse.org.
Carnevale Four Seasons Friday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. to midnight Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta 75 14th St., Atlanta, GA 30309 $75 general admission; $150 – $1,000 www.jerusalemhouse.org
The main ballroom will be filled with dancing to music mixed by DJ David Knapp. The tickets to the party include an open bar featuring cocktails by Grey Goose Vodka, a major sponsor. For those wishing to make it a serious night of mayhem, there are also room packages at the Four Seasons that include valet parking.
VIP lounges are very popular at the Jerusalem House parties and this one will be no different. Since the theme of the party is “Four Seasons” with different areas of the party representing a different season, the VIP area is winter and is aptly named the Chill Lounge. There will be a private bar and hot hors d’oeuvres served. The VIP lounge will also have local favorite DJ Mike Pope spinning exclusively for that room.
“The money that we raise from this event provides us with general operating expenses for our housing programs. We do get foundation and government grants that need to be applied to very specific purposes. The money that is raised at this event, however, helps us to fill the gaps where there is no grant money,” Wan says.
Larry Wilcox, a former client turned board member for Jerusalem House, was on death’s door when friends delivered him to Jerusalem House back in 1996.
“When I got there, I had a single T cell left” he says. “I named that T cell ‘Abraham’ and he multiplied. I’m now up to over 800.”
Jerusalem House helped Wilcox regain his health and rebuild his life.
“When I moved in, everyone expected me to die soon. I had lost my job and my insurance and it was my last resort. They gave me this safe place to live and a sense of dignity,” he says. “When the meds came out, I was able to get those meds and focus on getting well instead of worrying about how I would pay my bills.”
Jerusalem House also supplied Wilcox with support systems. He was able to bond with other residents, get transportation to medical appointments and have aides who would help him with things like grocery shopping.
When Wilcox regained his strength and his health improved, Jerusalem House assisted him in transitioning back into the world by supplementing his rent payment when he moved into his own apartment.
“They take such good care of you that you only have to focus on either getting better or dying. I wanted to walk out of there and that’s what I did. In 1998, I was able to move myself out and I’ve been out ever since.”
Wilcox also notes that the biggest benefit to the clients at Jerusalem House is just having a roof over their heads.
“The people who are out on the streets without a home don’t last as long” he notes. “That stable environment is so very key to their survival.”