Columbus--Project Open Hand, an agency providing meals and other services to central Ohioans living with HIV and AIDS, held its second annual fundraiser on September 30.
Almost a year ago to the date, Project Open Hand went into collaboration with Lifecare Alliance, a Columbus agency conducts the city�s Meals on Wheels program , along with other services for the poor and disabled.
This fundraiser however, was strictly to help raise resources for Project Open Hand.
The event, titled �The Dish,� was held at Confluence Park Restaurant in downtown Columbus and was co-chaired by out Columbus city councilmember Mary Jo Hudson and Frankie Coleman, wife of Mayor Michael Coleman. The dinner was hosted by WCMH Channel 4 newscaster Monique Ming Laven, her second year in that role.
The fundraiser drew in over 150 guests and estimates are that it raised $35,000. A silent auction of items ranging from furniture and art to gift baskets and vacations was held to raise money in addition to a live art auction of some art by some famous artists including Emerson Burkhart and Erte.
Laurie Weltin, who is the only fulltime staff member of Project Open Hand, said that since their partnership with Lifecare Alliance she was pleased that her organization had gained �much needed stability.�
Project Open Hand�s meals are now prepared through the Lifecare pantry although the Project still uses its drivers and volunteers in order to keep its identity unique and separate.
Weltin also said that Open Hand had received a new grant from the Columbus Foundation to allow its clients to buy fresh produce from the North Market in the Short North district. The grant of $21,000 was used partially this summer and will be used next summer.
According to Weltin, �This is great for our clients because it gives them a social outing they can go on with friends or family and this is particularly important given that depression and isolation are so common among many with HIV and AIDS.�
The special guest for the evening was Reichen Lehmkuhl, an out media personality best known for his 2003 win on CBS�s reality show The Amazing Race.
Lehmkuhl said he was amazed by the work Project Open hand and Lifecare Alliance were doing.
He said that he was going to try and feature the agencies on his upcoming Q Network talk show.
Lehmkul added that he had promised himself that if ever he gained celebrity, as he now has, he �would use that amazing gift to do good for my community.�
Coleman said that she truly believes in Project Open Hand Columbus�s mission because she has lost many loved ones to HIV and AIDS. Hudson echoed those sentiments and said that the agency is �in good hands.�
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