SAGE to Honor Community Members at Upcoming Luncheon
By Ryan Yousefi
South Florida’s SAGE affiliate is the oldest SAGE chapter in the U.S., and the only one that is independent and self-funded. This year, South Florida SAGE plans to honor a few of their finest members for their Exceptional Spirit of Volunteerism at a special awards luncheon that will be open for the public to attend.
SAGE has already announced five of the awards and the corresponding recipients; Michael Vita “Spirit of SAGE,” Ron Wudarsky “The President’s,” Emma Hinman “Female Volunteer of the Year,” Rex Coston “Male Volunteer of the Year,” and Rick Overton “Donor of the Year.” Other awards will also be given out in between entertainment, drinks, and food. Tickets to the luncheon are $27, and are limited to seats available.
The luncheon is an annual event for SAGE, but according to the group this year is extremely special because they will be honoring those who keep their group running. Various awards will be given out to volunteers based on their service.
“The highest recognition is called the Spirit of SAGE Award, and is presented to a General Member who has contributed the most of their time and efforts not just to SAGE of South Florida, but to other LGBT organizations.” Carl Galli, President of SAGE said. Galli also says in addition to the most prestigious awards SAGE plans to give out at their annual luncheon, there will also be recognition pins and badges to given to members who have been a part of the SAGE family for five, ten, and twenty years.
The celebration of South Florida SAGE volunteers is especially timely this year following the formation of SAGE Miami late last year. The SAGE Miami program was put in place to help enhance the quality of life of local LGBT elders through programs that gather the community, offer counseling and case management services, and provide SAGE-certified training in cultural sensitivity to those in organizations that care for LGBT elders. The program is now open to all LGBT seniors aged 55 and higher in Miami-Dade County.
Back in November of last year, Donna Dambrot, Program Manager of Sage Miami, spoke to SFGN about the new SAGE Miami program, and how vital a role it would play in the South Florida LGBT community.
“The need for this program is critical,” Dambrot said. “LGBT seniors find themselves confronting traditional challenges of aging, while at the same time encountering issues particular to the LGBT community. Lacking traditional sources of support and caregiving, a greater likelihood of living alone, higher rates of poverty and pronounced cultural and social isolation are just some of the realities of the LGBT elder community. Loneliness, housing and healthcare issues are particularly acute challenges.”
The SAGE volunteer awards ceremony will also double as a celebration of the groups 23rd year of service to the LGBT community and its allies. SAGE has continually supported the community with an assortment of events, such as their LGBT-themed movie nights, Computer Club, Men’s Night Out at Tropics, concerts, discussion groups, Broadway shows, and many other activities that foster LGBT community togetherness.
“We want our guests to feel like guests. Not to feel obligated to contribute anything beyond their seat price.” Galli said. “Because of our donors, we are able to subsidize part of the cost so everyone may come and celebrate not just our success, but also our award recipient’s honors.”
Tickets to this year’s SAGE luncheon include an all-inclusive three-course plated meal seated in an Embassy Suites rainbow themed atmosphere. The luncheon will include entertainment from various artists as well as a keyboardist.
“I personally think of SAGE of South Florida as a family of friends.” Galli said. “I've said many times to our members, and mean it more so today; Take a look at your friends, and see who you might not have known if you had not joined SAGE. We do not just present activities for our members. We actively promote participation from the entire community."
For more information about the SAGE awards luncheon please call the SAGE office at 954-634-7219 or visit SageWebsite.org for more details.