Columbus--About 40 people crowded into the Stonewall Center on March 23 to hear about the past year of activities and activism and to look forward at what the upcoming months have to offer.
Three Stonewall Columbus staffers led the group�s annual town hall style meeting to update the community.
Programming Director Michael Dutcher told the gathering that last month�s Commitment Faire was the most successful yet.
Over 400 people attended the event at the Franklin Park Conservatory with 17 sponsors and 21 vendors catering to GLBT needs for marriages and commitment ceremonies.
Stonewall plans to hold next year�s Faire at the same venue, but Dutcher thought that after that it would outgrow the conservatory and a new location would have to be found.
Speaking about 2004, Dutcher said that the annual event A Night Out last October �was a huge success� where Columbus businesses and individuals were honored for their services and activism on behalf of the GLBT community.
Last month�s Federated Drag Skating event broke attendance records with over 600 people and an after-event party at the Blue Jackets Bistro in the Nationwide Arena. The bistro has already committed to next year�s event.
Dutcher announced that the theme for next year�s Drag Skating event will be �Lesbian Mechanic Auto Shop.�
Stonewall�s biggest event last year was the 2004 Pride Festival. Dutcher announced that this year�s theme will be �One,� what he defined as �one family, one goal, and one equality.�
Stonewall will be raffling off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle this year with tickets being sold in person and on-line. Dutcher said that the bike is black with pink flames.
�The gayest thing you have ever seen, but it�s hot,� he added.
Technology liaison Brock Andreatta spoke about the complete revamping of Stonewall�s computer system. Stonewall has shifted the system to an in-house configuration, as opposed to outsourcing it to a Columbus agency.
Over the past two years, Andreatta has been working on a new database system for Stonewall that is designed to simplify and increase the organization�s fundraising capabilities.
�We have integrated and reorganized all the data we have so far,� he said, �and with the new database we hope to steward and cultivate our donors.�
Andreatta also addressed safety and privacy issues with the new system, assuring those present that only Stonewall employees will have access to the data. Even volunteers will not be able to handle the data.
Andreatta said that the new system was �almost complete� and that �a full roll out is planned for mid-April.�
Executive director Kate Anderson praised Andreatta profusely for his �hard work on the system� and for �saving Stonewall thousands of dollars.� A similar system created by an external vendor would have set Stonewall back tens of thousands of dollars.
Andreatta will be leaving Stonewall after June to return to medical school. While working part-time at Stonewall on the technology issues, he has finished his MBA degree.
Anderson noted that Andreatta�s leaving would �be a huge loss for Stonewall.�
Kellye Pinkleton, Stonewall�s volunteer coordinator, was unable to be present at the meeting. Anderson presented her update.
Stonewall passed the mark of 500 active volunteers last year, serving 80,000 people.
�Such an incredible volunteer core,� said Anderson.
Three new groups have been added to Stonewall Columbus, most prominently Speak Out, a straight allies group started a year ago by Sherry Meyers.
Speak Out �tries to educate the straight community about the issues in the gay community,� said Meyers. Membership in the group doubled after Issue 1 passed last fall.
�We are as outraged and disgusted with what�s happening and we want to walk arm in arm with this community,� she said. �April is going to be ally awareness month and Speak Out has a full schedule on its hands for the upcoming year, doing outreach work in the greater Columbus community.�
Anderson concluded the meeting by speaking to the issues facing the community as the year moves forward.
Two of her biggest concerns are finalizing a plan for a new and expanded Stonewall Center and building coalitions toward further equality for the GLBT community.
Anderson also thanked and introduced many of the Stonewall board members who were present at the meeting. The current board has 21 seats with specific seats allocated to men, women and transgendered individuals.
In addition, current board president Donna Williams is the first African-American woman in that position.
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