SARASOTA | CAN Community Health welcomed supporters to the Ritz-Carlton Feb. 22 for the organization’s second annual Red Ribbon Gala.
The gathering raises awareness for CAN’s mission to provide a continuum of medical, social and education services to the communities it serves. The evening specifically benefited the organization’s youth initiative.
“It is incredible to look back at these last 11 months and see how far we have come in the fight against the HIV epidemic,” CAN Community Health President and CEO Richard Carlisle shared. “We are witnessing daily the power of access to care. This year we launched the CAN Community Health Youth Initiative, a safe space model for STD prevention for at-risk youth.
“The program provides leadership and decision-making authority to promote sexual health testing directly to their peers,” he further explained. “Many of the underserved youth in our communities are homeless or housing insecure and statistically at high-risk for STDs. Lack of familial and school support, combined with a lack of comprehensive in-school sex education means our initiative is essential for STD prevention, education, testing and linkages to care.”
The organization also highlighted its 2018-2019 impact, noting that more than 15,000 patients had been linked to care in that time. In addition, more than 46,000 STD/HIV tests had been completed and $6.6 million had been reinvested into the communities CAN Community Health serves.
“Become a partner and help us make a critical impact in our communities, because together, we CAN make the difference,” Carlisle added. “We cannot do it without you.”
The evening also welcomed Michael Kors, who replaced original headliner Debra Messing after the actress suffered an injury. The fashion designer read a letter from Messing and detailed his community advocacy.
“Thank you to all of our sponsors, co-chairs, guests, vendors and volunteers who made this night come to life,” CAN subsequently shared. “We couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you! A special thanks to Michael Kors for supporting our mission and delivering such a beautiful message to our guests. Save the date for next year March 27, 2021!”
For more information about CAN Community Health, visit their website. You can view some of Watermark’s photos from this year’s gala below.