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Verbena's annual fundraiser surpasses goal
Verbena's annual fundraiser surpasses goal
by Liz Meyer - SGN Staff Writer

Call it the little nonprofit that could: Verbena, the do-it-all Queer health organization, raised $95,000 at its 10th Annual Soup 'R' Bowl fundraiser last weekend.

"We were shooting for $80,000 as a goal," said Wendy Sloneker, Development Coordinator for Verbena. "So in true form, our community went above and beyond and really showed their support in more than just financial ways."

True, the importance of community-building and awareness-raising for an organization like Verbena cannot be emphasized enough. Sloneker was quick to point out that the fundraiser served other important purposes besides being a financial boon for the health organization.

"The event really gives people a chance to know about our programming, and really supports a healthier lifestyle for all," Sloneker stated. For as much publicity as the event gathers, though, money talks. Especially when the 500 or so attendees at the event raise close to $100,000. That amount will be essential to Verbena's plans to expand its services.

"In 2006, Verbena moved into the Center for LGBT Health in collaboration with Gay City Health Project to put a new focus on the health of the LGBTQ communities and give all LGBTQ individuals the resources they need," says Verbena's website. "The new space has allowed Verbena to expand programming, staff, and resources for the community, as well as move most programs in-house."

The money raised is a far cry from the organization's modest beginnings, when a group of women who were diagnosed with cancer couldn't find health organizations that fit their specific needs as Lesbians, and decided to start their own.

The Soup 'R' Bowl was held for the first time this year at the South Lake Union Naval Reserve Center, which is quickly becoming a haven for LGBT fundraising events. Lifelong AIDS Alliance holds their Gay Bingo events at the space, as well.

Approximately 500 or so attendees enjoyed cocktails, several auctions, handcrafted soup bowls, and a variety of soups. Not exactly the stuff you'd find in cans of Campbell's, the soups were donated by caterers, restaurants, and other master chefs.

Sloneker sounded thrilled about how the night went.

"There are a lot of loyal supporters of the Soup 'R' Bowl annually," she said, "but I also believe that we have made some new relationships. We're reaching out further and further, and members from all walks of life were there."

Next on the horizon for Verbena is an event with its neighbors at Gay City.

"We're going to be working more closely with them to offer a springtime event as a center," said Sloneker. "It'll be in the March or April area, but we're still just coordinating it."
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