What a spectacular evening!
By Karen Turner
(some pictures from The GA Voice)
What a spectacular evening! On Saturday, June 23, PFLAG Atlanta held its annual fundraiser and social event “Out with the Stars”, celebrating 26 years of service. Over 140 guests were treated to a night of musical entertainment, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and a fabulous silent auction!
The occasion was enhanced with the presentation of five Star awards – parents, an educator, a student, a non-profit and a PFLAG couple were honored for their accomplishments in advancing equality and acceptance for the LGBT community in Atlanta and Georgia. The evening highlight was their thought provoking acceptance speeches, while photos of their experiences were displayed on a large screen behind them.
With the exception of the PFLAG Achievement award voted by our board members, the honorees were nominated by the public within categories on our Facebook page and then voted upon by the public! Amazing people were selected.
As parents, Patti and Jeff Ellis were honored for providing support and comfort to thousands of people both nationally and internationally. After their son came out to them eleven years ago, they set up their website, Family Acceptance, to help other families. They have been replying individually to hundreds of email inquiries each year ever since.
Em Elliott, a field organizer for Georgia Equality, was honored with the education award for her commitment to the Safe Schools Campaign in partnership with the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition. Her experience in anti-bullying work, combined with extensive training and work in Georgia schools has been invaluable in creating a viable Georgia GSA Network.
Our student award winner was Jessy Maslanka. Among other things, as editor of her rural public school paper, she wrote and edited an edition on bullying (and not just of LGBT kids), despite being constantly harassed over the year. She was even falsely accused by her principal of inappropriate behavior. Even with this, she repeatedly approached him about starting a Gay Straight Alliance. Through her determination, the GSA was actually approved shortly before school let out.The non-profit award went to the Ben Marion Institute for Social Justice. The Institute’s KEF™ (Kindness, Empathy, Fairness) educational curriculums promote socially just, empathetic environments for all individuals, including LGBT children and families. They believe that pro-active social emotional learning must be present for the elimination of homophobia, discrimination and bias.
Finally, the PFLAG Atlanta Achievement award went to Mary Lynn and Dale Merkle. Dale is currently the PFLAG Gulf Regional Director and Mary Lynn has been a PFLAG Atlanta president, but they have done so much more. Over twenty plus years they both have been tireless in their pursuit of PFLAG’s entire mission of support, education and advocacy. We are so proud of their dedication and feel lucky to have them as members of our chapter.Everyone has commented on how flawlessly this event was executed. So many wonderful volunteers and thoughtful planning made the evening such a success. We want to especially acknowledge the contributions of PFLAG Atlanta’s co-presidents, Conal Charles and Fran Brandino. They did a tremendous amount of the work and refined every detail. Their efforts are very much appreciated by everyone in PFLAG Atlanta!
Our Sponsors for the Evening
Flowers and Arrangements Sponsor