HIV/AIDS service organization Street Works plans annual benefit gala

Nashville non-profit agency Street Works will host its fifth annual fundraising dinner April 21 at the Millennium Maxwell House. The benefit gala is the largest fundraiser of the year for Street Works, a non-profit that works with high-risk groups in inner city Nashville to educate and care for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

"The money (from the gala) goes to help support who are living with HIV and their families," says Ron Crowder, president of Street Works. "These are people who I think most agencies look at as invisible like drug addicts and sex workers. They are on the low end of the socioeconomic scale. We try to reach those people that other people are not trying to reach. We're out in areas of high crime and drugs that most agencies don't even go in."

Outspoken national HIV/AIDS activist Charles King will give the keynote speech at the event. King is president and CEO of the New York City-based non-profit Housing Works, the largest community-based AIDS service organization in the United States. One of a handful of HIV-positive leaders of a major AIDS service organization, he's devoted his life to drawing attention to the twin issues of HIV/AIDS and homelessness.

The staff of Street Works, which was founded in 1997 as a mobile outreach agency, has joined King in this challenging pursuit. It's the only such agency to operate a 24-hour emergency help line and 24-hour on-call counseling in Davidson County. As Crowder notes, the difficulties faced by their clients don't stop at the end of the workday.

"These people are already being marginalized and this is just another added thing on top of what they're going through," he says. "They're likely dealing with poverty and unemployment, and they often have a low educational level and so many other issues. HIV is just another added thing."

The public is encouraged to attend the event to learn more about how Street Works serves Nashville’s most at-risk population. Tax-deductible contributions are also welcomed. Interested parties can also contact the organization directly to find out how to help with this important issue.

"First off, people can help out financially," Crowder says. "And if they're interested, they can call the office and we'll set them up with some volunteer opportunities."    

What: Street Works 5th Annual Benefit Gala

When: Thursday, April 21, 2011 5 p.m. cocktails 6 p.m. dinner

Where: Millennium Maxwell House 2025 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, 37228-1505

Cost: Individual tickets: $50 each; Table of 10: $500 Corporate tickets: $150 each; Table of 10: $1500

Contact: For more information or to order tickets, call (615) 259-7676

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