Hope & Help move into new facility, prepare for annual Headdress Ball

By : Natalie Caballero and Rachel Dececco
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ORLANDO | Hope & Help opened up shop in a brand new location Aug. 1, with the launch of their new and improved website to follow shortly, all less than two months before their biggest charity event of the year, the annual Headdress Ball.

The non-profit organization, which opened in 1988, is now located at 707 Mendham Blvd in Orlando, and is Central Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS testing, education and care center.

“We opened our doors Aug. 1 but will be having our grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 7, with a big celebration at noon,” says Hope & Help Community Development Director Joshua J. Myers. “We’re giving a personalized tour of the facility. People will get to see the people behind the scenes and get to meet them. So, people can see those who go out and work towards preventing and eradicating HIV in our community. We want them to see everything Hope &Help does.”

Hope & Help will continue to offer the same resources at the new location such as sex education, peer support groups and testing for HIV, Hepatitis C and syphilis.

Hope & Help serves over 1,500 clients across Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole Counties. Annually they distribute more than 75,000 condoms and have administered over 5,000 HIV tests.

Hope & Help’s new website was intended to be launched alongside the grand opening of the new facility, but required a bit more work before going live.

“We’re looking at it being up and running within the next week with all updated information on our leadership and executive director,” says Myers. “We also will have updated interactive information for clients and people interested in testing, learning about HIV and finding out what care options are available. We want to improve the knowledge about us in the community.”

Hope & Help runs on the financial support of grants, sponsorships and donations from the community. A large portion of those funds come from their annual black tie event, the Headdress Ball.

This will be the Headdress Ball’s 28th year and will carry the name“Imaginarium.”The eventwill be held at the Marriot World Center on Saturday, Sept. 23 and will feature a Steampunk theme.

“It’s more like Steampunk meets Moulin Rouge,” Myers says. “We encourage everyone to wear Steampunk outfits.”

Hope & Help is also taking the 28th year to change things up a bit. Unlike previous years, the event will not be a sit-down dinner; instead it is being called “a strolling affair.”

“Guests will mingle with other guests and performers,” Myers says.“There will be food stations with very delicious food options inspired by French cuisine. We also will have two exciting custom made cocktails for people to drink exclusively at the event.”

Entertainment will be provided by America’s Got Talent’s master illusionist Drew Thomas, as well as Orlando’s own Blue Star, Michael Wanzie and Darcel Stevens. Local dancers, singers and acrobats are set to perform as well.

“Everything has a fresh face this year,” says Myers. “From the new strolling layout and we now have a lot more diversity among performers and entertainment with drag and dancers, and our featured magician this year.”

Sponsorships, tickets and VIP options are on sale now at HeaddressBallOrlando.org. As with every year, all proceeds go back into Hope & Help’s services.

“100 percent of proceeds go towards our initiatives for lowering the cost of direct client care such as our food pantry, HIV testing, and educational services,” Myers says. “I’m so proud of the work this organization does.”

(Image from Hope & Help’s Headdress Ball Facebook event.)

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