Dining Out for Life returns to Tampa Bay for 14th year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA BAY | A record number of restaurants and bars will participate in the 14th annual Dining Out for Life (DOFL) in Tampa Bay on April 11, benefiting Empath Partners in Care (EPIC) in the organization’s fight against HIV/AIDS.

Founded in 1991, DOFL is an annual dining event which raises money for community-based organizations serving those impacted by HIV. To raise the funds, establishments donate at least 25 percent of their sales on a specific date to local organizations like EPIC.

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EPIC seeks to raise awareness, rehome couture creations

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Empath Partners in Care (EPIC) is seeking a permanent home for a collection of five dresses made from condoms and other materials to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work with HIV and AIDS throughout Tampa Bay.

The creations were featured at Balance Tampa Bay’s fourth annual masquerade ball Aug. 4, which raised $16,000 for EPIC. Conceptualized by artist and event chair Ryan Young, each design represents emotions an individual receiving HIV or AIDS care might feel while working with the organization.

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Tampa welcomes thousands for 2018 Gay Softball World Series

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA | Tampa Bay will host the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance’s (NAGAAA) Gay Softball World Series (GSWS) for the first time in the organization’s history Sept. 3-8.

Formed in 1977, NAGAAA is an international sports organization comprised of male and female softball players. The 501(c)(3) is dedicated to providing the LGBTQ community the opportunity to participate in organized competitions throughout North America.

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07.26.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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There are moments in our lives that stick with us—defining who we were, who we are or who we want to be.

Among my list of essentials are a summer with my grandmother, probably my favorite person that I’ve ever known. The two of us would take turns telling one another stories we’d make up on the spot, finishing each other’s dangling plot threads well into the wee hours of the night. She also helped cement my role as a night owl.

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Tampa Bay mother shares journey of raising transgender son

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Jake celebrating Pride (Photo courtesy Sylvie Griffiths).

BRANDON | Community advocate Sylvie Griffiths and the non-profit Turnaround Life have begun publishing a blog series detailing Griffiths’ journey raising her eight-year-old transgender son.

Turnaround Life exists to provide diverse, inclusive systems of care through development, evaluation, education and capacity building. Griffiths was approached to write a blog for their website after she began working as a consultant for the organization.

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Dining Out for Life returns to Tampa Bay for 13th year

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: EPIC Executive Director Joy Winheim

Tampa | The annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser Dining Out for Life (DOFL) will return to Tampa Bay for the 13th time on April 26 to benefit Empath Partners in Care, or EPIC.

Founded in 1991, DOFL takes place in over 60 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Over 3,000 restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds from the day of dining to licensed AIDS service agencies across North America.

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Central Florida and Tampa Bay recognize World AIDS Day with events from coast to coast

By : Jeremy Williams
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World AIDS Day is the first ever global health day and has taken place every Dec. 1 since 1988. It is a day which the entire planet comes together to remember the nearly 40 million lives lost to the virus, but also to acknowledge those still living with the disease today and to celebrate the advances made in fighting HIV/AIDS.

From candlelight vigils to luncheons and HIV testing sights, several groups and organizations have events throughout Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area for you whether you want to pay your respects or know your status.

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Tampa Bay Overheard: Loss of a Legend

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Tampa Bay performer and local legend Aspen Love was laid to rest on Nov. 11 at Smith’s Funeral Home in St. Petersburg.

Community members mourned the loss of their friend and sister, quickly announcing multiple celebrations of life and benefit shows to help with expenses. Hamburger Mary’s Clearwater, along with Empath Partners in Care, announced that the Nov. 13 Drag Queen Bingo was held to remember the performer. Proceeds from the event were donated to Love’s family.

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Balance Tampa Bay’s 3rd Annual Masquerade Ball was a black (and white) tie affair

By : Jeremy Williams
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What’s black and white and was the talk of Tampa on July 28? The answer is Balance Tampa Bay’s Third Annual Masquerade Ball at The RITZ Ybor.

Tampa Bay came out— dressed to the nines— to dance, mingle and to eat cake. Global superstar DJ Toy Armanda, all the way from the Philippines, kept the music pumping and the dance floor filled with masked strangers.

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It’s all Black & White for Balance Tampa Bay’s Masquerade Ball at The RITZ Ybor

By : Sophia Mackrides
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TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay is back, masks on and ready, for the Third Annual Masquerade Ball coming to the Ritz Ybor July 29.

Balance Tampa Bay’s first two Masquerade Balls —2015’s inaugural party that had hundreds of paper faces on parade and last year’s Summer Olympics-inspired Rio-themed bash— were some of the biggest celebrations in Tampa Bay, and there is no reason to think that this year will be any different.

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An EPIC Taking: Joy Winheim now manages the largest HIV/AIDS service provider in the Tampa Bay area as EPIC’s executive director

By : Jeremy Williams
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Sometimes being remarkable can be bittersweet. Francis House announced this year that they would be merging with AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) under the umbrella of Empath Health. This new organization, Empath Partners in Care (EPIC), would be headed by Francis House’s previous executive director Joy Winheim.

“When we were first approached [by ASAP], we thought there is no way we’re doing this, we don’t need to do it,” Winheim says. “We had plenty of grant money. We’re doing well you know, we have 800 clients. We’re not having any issues so why would we think about this.”

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