In February 2015, former Orlando GLBT Center vice president (and interim executive director) Russell Walker left one shifting Central Florida philanthropic agency for another. Walker assumed the helm at Hope and Help Center of Central Florida as events manager, but now finds himself in the position of community development director, one who is pushing for more outreach and greater transparency.
If this year’s Headdress Ball, Hope and Help’s signature fundraising event of plumage and responsibility, is anything to go by, Walker is succeeding. The Oct. 17 affair raised $325,000 for the HIV/AIDS support organization, all told, which might seem like a disappointment compared to the reported numbers from previous years, but is likely more a reflection of net profits versus gross profits. Along with the celebrity flourishes and black-tie beverage stains came a sense of responsibility, of community, that may have faded in the spotlights during the years prior. Walker is working to right the ship, he says, even after the $4 million agency lost a large sum of funding when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued its grants this summer.
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