by Rachel Brister -
Special to the SGN
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the nation's largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce, announced that their annual TASTE of GSBA benefit dinner and auction raised a record-breaking $584,000 to support scholarships for LGBTQ and allied students. The sold-out event on Saturday, November 23, filled the Sheraton Seattle Hotel's Grand Ballroom.
Nine GSBA-member caterers and restaurants welcomed the over 800 guests, and eight Washington State wineries intermingled with the guests amidst the silent auction items. Throughout the night, entertainment was provided by the a cappella group, The 007ths, and performers from KeyBank Broadway at the Paramount, Seattle Theatre Group and the Balagan Theatre showcased a series of upcoming shows for the 2014 season including Once, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon and Evita. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence helped raise $20,000 on the auction floor in raffle ticket sales. The fabulous and glamorous Aleksa Manila guided the evening's program alongside auctioneer Laura Michalek, who has helmed the auction portion of the TASTE of GSBA for the last several years.
'In the best way possible, my life has taken a completely new path,' said Daniel Cords, a current GSBA Scholar who shared his story with the audience. 'But I get it. I am not alone. By speaking up, by speaking out, we can try to bring a voice to the voiceless, and so you can continue to promote those who struggle to promote themselves.' Cords was forced into a conversion therapy program and then thrown out of his parents' home in Issaquah after he came out to them at age 14. In part, thanks to support from the GSBA Scholarship Fund, Cords is concurrently finishing a double Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Learning and Social Justice Studies, while at the same time starting early on a Master's in Education. Cords' closed by stating that, 'Words cannot express my gratitude. This scholarship helped me realize that success is not about finding a job - it is about finding your life's work.'
Cords' inspiring and eloquent words, reminding the audience why supporting the GSBA Scholarship Fund is so important, led into the most successful Fund-A-Scholar ask in the organization's history.
The success of the event was due in no small part to the exceptional support received from the community, including Presenting Sponsor 1st Security Bank, Alaska Airlines, Constellation Brands, Holland America Line, Inspire Youth Project, J.P. Morgan, Chase, New Chapter Weddings & Events, Outerwall, Seattle Storm and Vulcan, as well as from GSBA's annual sponsors such as Safeco and Liberty Mutual, Avanade, Pacific Medical Centers, Regence, Microsoft and Wells Fargo. Over 100 volunteers, including members of PFLAG, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and GSBA Scholarship recipients, helped make the enormous production flow smoothly and effortlessly.
GSBA was one of the first chambers in the country to incorporate philanthropy into its core mission. GSBA members continue to give back to their communities and to support, with ever-increasing generosity, the next generation of LGBTQ and allied leaders.
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is this region's LGBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce proudly serving the business and nonprofit community since 1981. GSBA is the largest LGBT Chamber in the United States with over 1000 members. More than a chamber, GSBA is a vibrant community organization with a broad and diverse membership base. GSBA is widely known throughout the Puget Sound region for its work on business development, connecting community through business, advocacy on both civil rights and business and promoting LGBT Tourism through its Travel Gay Seattle tourism initiative. In addition, GSBA invests in the next generation of leaders by sponsoring a Scholarship Fund, which, since 1990, has given out over $1.8 million in scholarships to undergraduates in Washington State. GSBA's mission is to combine business development, social action and leadership to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT community and those who support equality for all. For more information about GSBA, visit www.thegsba.org.
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