The dead shall walk, and they shall be fabulous.
Jerusalem House is retooling its annual Halloween fundraiser from a Carnevale masquerade ball to a “Ghosts of Hollywood” themed event, and organizers are offering lot of surprises.
The event is one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides housing to HIV-positive individuals and their families.
“It’s going to be a party in three different phases. It’s going to be exciting for our guests because the venue will be changing around them,” Jerusalem House Executive Director Charlie Frew says. “A lot of it is going to be a surprise, but people will see the size of the venue change and different things with lighting and other ways.”
Development Director Jon Santos wouldn’t let many details slip about the party, but said the party would feature live entertainment, a “Spiritual Medium,” drinks and a number of celebrities from Hollywood’s history who have appeared in the tribute reel at the Oscars.
“For anyone who has been [to the Jerusalem House Halloween event] in the past, it will seem familiar, but we’ve added some new elements to it sort of jazz it up a little bit,” Santos says.
While there will be dead celebrities mingling with the crowd, costumes are not required to attend. There will still be masquerade masks available for purchase.“
We want to keep it fresh because we have a core group of people who attend every year and we want to keep it exciting for them,” Frew says.
The event routinely draws approximately 400 revelers, in what organizers say is a diverse crowd.
“It truly is a mixed event, it probably is more gay, but it truly is open to everyone. I don’t think anyone from the straight community would be intimidated from coming,” Frew notes. “It’s a great time to have a lot of fun with a lot of different people and see things that you haven’t seen before.”
The event will also feature a raffle that includes high dollar items like a three-night/four-day day vacation in Blue Ridge, a week’s stay in a Pensacola condo and a dining package from Steel Restaurant and Lounge.
HIV housing help
The funds raised will go to help Jerusalem House plug the holes in its budget left by large funding sources. Private and public grants account for the bulk of housing agency’s budget, but unrestricted funds from events like Ghosts of Hollywood are critical.
“Government funds will typically give us the food and rent, for example, but when you get into other services like transportation and education, that tends to come from the private sector,” Frew says.
Jerusalem House owns or rents a number of facilities across Atlanta, and provides an estimated 60 percent of the housing for low-income people living with AIDS in the metro area.
At any given time, Jerusalem House provides shelter to approximately 350 people, of which 125 are children. The organization also offers case management, education and transportation services to its clients.
“Given the significant uncertainty in Congress, it is certain that government funding will continue to be in a state of flux. It places a bigger importance on events like this… given what we see in Congress programs like ours tend to be first cut,” Frew says.
“We know that people who come out to this event are coming to have a good time, but for the most part they are looking to contribute, and help out Jerusalem House, and they do so in a very important way,” he says.
Top photo: Last year’s Jerusalem House event featured the familiar Carnevale theme; this year, the HIV agency goes glam with ‘Ghosts of Hollywood.’ (Photos by Brent Corcoran / RNZ Photography)