Giving back a key pillar of LGBT market
(Photo above: The Dare to Wear Love Fashion Show supports The Stephen Lewis Foundation. Shown are (l-r) Peter Salituro, Jim Searle, co-founders; Armando Mendonça; Nelson Tome; Nino Montagnese; and Chris Tyrell, co-founder.)
Since my days at Treasure Tours/Canadian Holidays, I can recall supporting the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR) in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when there was very little education on the impact that HIV/AIDS had in the LGBT community. Needless to say, the impact was significant, and subsequently, there are many organizations still fighting against the stigma that HIV/AIDS only affects the LGBT community, in addition to research and prevention.
I bring this up because it is vital that the travel industry supports a cause that the LGBT community continues to consider as an integral part of its fabric. Having lost friends and co-workers to HIV/AIDS, I have diligently supported many organizations over the years that continue to raise funds towards research, education and prevention.
Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR) is the only national charitable foundation that raises awareness to generate funds for research into all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS. Since inception in 1987, CANFAR (www.canfar.com) has invested more than $18 million in research initiatives across Canada. CANFAR is funded solely through the generosity of corporations, groups and individuals across Canada.
In 2016, CANFAR will host the 20th annual Bloor Street Entertains in Toronto, which gives attendees an opportunity to dine in their favourite stores and galleries in support of Canadian HIV and AIDS research. (www.bloorstreetentertains.ca)
Here are some other prominent charitable organizations:
Since 1983, Aids Committee of Toronto (ACT) has developed programs and services that respond to the changing needs of the communities it serves. ACT provides support services that empower men, women and young people living with HIV to achieve self-determination, informed decision-making, independence, and overall well-being through programs such as counselling, information provision, social support activities and programs that help people with HIV return to work.
ACT works with gay men and young people to increase their knowledge, skills and resilience to reduce HIV transmission and improve their sexual health. In addition, develop information, provide outreach and education and create opportunities for community members to increase their skills. Today in Toronto, more people than ever are living with HIV, and people are still becoming infected with HIV. Upcoming event: Walk With Us At Pride (www.actoronto.ca)
Dare to Wear Love ( DTWL) celebrates the talents and commitment to social justice of Canada’s fashion design community and performing artists and raises funds and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation using the Power of Fashion for Good. Upcoming event: Dare to Wear Love Fashion Show,
Nov. 26. (www.daretowearlove.com)
The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) works with community-level organizations which are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa by providing care and support to women, orphaned children, grandmothers and people living with HIV and AIDS. Since 2003, the foundation has funded over 1,400 initiatives, partnering with more than 300 community-
based organizations in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
These grassroots groups are the lifeline for their communities: they provide counselling and education about HIV prevention, care and treatment; distribute food, medication and other necessities; reach the sick and vulnerable through home-based health care; help orphans and vulnerable children access to education and work through their grief; and support grandmothers caring for their orphaned grandchildren. (www.stephenlewisfoundation.org)
If you would like to support any of the above organizations and donate any travel services/product, please contact me as there are many fundraising events throughout the year.
Armando Mendonça is a tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist supporting HIV/AIDS charities and LGBT travel expert. He can be reached at: [email protected] .