In the true spirit of the holidays, you can help others when you give presents this season. Here are just a few of our favorite ideas. Plus Share the Wealth of Christmases Past.
The Birthday Boy himself said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Accordingly, at each year’s end we all are driven to give our loved ones gifts that they will treasure and remember for years to come and that will, we hope, even make a positive difference in their lives. It’s unlikely that a quick dash into the local 24-hour drug store on the way to the gift exchange for a pre-wrapped scented candle would fulfill those lofty ambitions. With that in mind, we offer our annual Share the Wealth ideas, with suggestions that will not only make good gifts, but will also make you feel good about gifting.
It Takes Ten Thousand Villages
It began when Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite missionary to Puerto Rico, returned home to Canada with handcrafted items made by impoverished residents of the island to sell to friends and neighbors. Byler thought the items might make unusual gifts while simultaneously providing a means of income to the villagers.
That was in 1946. All these years and many global crises later, Byler’s idea has grown into Ten Thousand Villages, a retailer designed to benefit artists rather than maximize profits. The company promotes free trade through a network of more than 270 organizations in 60 countries, not only improving the livelihoods of these artisans but also promoting a sense of justice. You can’t get that at Wal-Mart.
It Takes Ten Thousand Villages
These Ten Thousand Villages gifts suggested here are available online and at the Houston outlet of Ten Thousand Villages, located at 2424 Rice Blvd. in Rice Village. The Rice Village store also hosts special events nights from which proceeds are donated to local charitable organizations, which have recently included Bering Omega Community Services. Details: 713/533-1000 • www.villageshouston.org
Inspired by the voluptuous swirls of Viennese artist Gustav Klimpt, the Klimpt Candleholder is hand-painted with gold and silver decoration. The 8-inch high wooden holder is made by an artisan group in Indonesia, APIKRI (the Indonesian People’s Handicraft Foundation). $24
The Ten Thousand Villages holiday collection for 2007 shimmers with silver and gold treasures. This 5-inch star ornament is hand-beaded and stuffed by a skilled woman’s artisan group in India. $8
Scarf This Up
It takes a special breed of Himalayan goats to provide the material for pashminas, like this striking wool-and-silk scarf. Weaving pashminas is a traditional art that originated in Nepal, and this scarf produced by Sana Hastakala stays true to that tradition. Sana Hastakala represents approximately 1,000 artisans, most of whom are women, ensuring fair wages and marketing assistance. $64
Care for Kids
The effect of AIDS on the African continent and other impoverished regions is well known. AIDS will orphan more than 25 million children under the age of 15 by 2010, according to UNICEF calculations. For less than the cost of three top-shelf martinis, you can arrange for a child who has lost his parents to AIDS to receive nutritious meals for a full month, compliments of the Mennonite Central Committee. $19.
Stuffing a cow, a goat, a pig, a sheep, and 18 rabbits into a stocking and hanging it on the mantle of an impoverished family would prove a challenge. But the gift of livestock ensures sustainable nourishment for struggling communities around the world, providing low-cost food for hungry families, as well as a source of income to build safe housing or send children to school. $330.
Bette Davis was right: “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”
Declining health, impeded mobility, limited income, depression, depression, depression. All are issues facing Americans of the Baby Boomer generation who are now entering Social Security age.
According to the recently released National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Report on Aging, an estimated 3 million gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender elders are currently living in the United States. By 2030, that number will nearly double.
Fortunately for GLBT Houstonians who are at least 60 years old, there is Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years, a collaborative program of the Montrose Counseling Center and Legacy Community Health Services. Better known by its apt acronym, the SPRY program is dedicated to “shining the light into the lives of GLBT seniors for them to be able to experience prideful, bold, and bright rainbow years.”
Offering individual support groups for men and women, as well as a co-ed group, SPRY outreach workers also provide valuable information to health-care providers about the sometimes-special needs of GLBT seniors and educate retirement communities and assisted-living facilities about the likely GLBT seniors in their populations.
But, like everything else of value, maintaining SPRY costs money. Seniors are not charged any out-of-pocket expense to participate in this program, which is largely funded by a grant from the federal government. “We’re trying to look for ways to keep the hearts of these programs
going,” SPRY program director Chris
The group readily welcomes donations made to the counseling center in SPRY’s name. Just designate your contribution be earmarked to SPRY, and your gift will help fund peer support, counseling, case management, and psychiatry for SPRY clients.
Details: 713/529-0037 • www.montrosecounselingcenter.org
This holiday season, StubDog Events, the Houston-based provider of last-minute tickets to select area performances and attractions, is partnering with Children’s Cancer Center to raise money for young artist patients.
Between December 5 and 12, StubDog is donating 100 percent of its profits to the center’s Arts in Medicine program. The program provides enjoyable, educational, and artistic opportunities to patients and their families while the children are in the hospital, affiliated with both Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. Works by these youthful talents include Ocean Scene (above), a painting on Styrofoam. You can view additional creations from the Arts in Medicine program at the StubDog website.
Founded last year, StubDog includes philanthropy in its business plan—even at times other than the holidays. A portion of every ticket sold on StubDog.com benefits community organizations.
Details: www.stubdog.com• 866/573-0454.
Jewelry to Live By
The holidays are traditionally a time of joyous celebration with family and friends. But for those whose loved ones are no longer here to share that joy, the season can become a difficult time.
Dennis and Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew’s death in 1998 shed unprecedented light on the horror of hate crimes, have found a new, constructive way to cope with their grief during the holidays.
They are encouraging shoppers to buy the Erase Hate pendant created in their son’s memory and honor. It is an attractive titanium circle that swings from an adjustable leather cord necklace and is stamped with the message “Understanding. Compassion. Acceptance.” Even more attractive is the fact that 100 percent of net proceeds from the necklace sales support the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
“Wearing the Erase Hate pendant is a great way for people to express how they feel and promote the values of understanding, compassion, and acceptance that were so important to Matthew,” says Judy Shepard, who is executive director of the foundation. Prominent celebrities, including Cyndi Lauper, Peter Paige, T.R. Knight, and Judith Light have already been spotted wearing the pendants.
Udi Behr, creative director of Love & Pride, the first high-end jewelry collection created for the GLBT market, designed the Erase Hate pendant. His goal is to sell one million in five years, generating significant funding to help the Shepards promote their message through education, outreach, and advocacy. $59. Details: www.loveandpride.com• www.mathewshepard.org.
Do you believe in “America’s true values of openness, fairness, and compassion” and “participating in an effective government is the best way to be mutually responsible for our community”?
So does TrueMajority.com. In fact that’s their statement of purpose. If you indeed do subscribe to True Majority’s values, click on to their website. There you will find an array of visual and virtuous bling that addresses issues like global warming (with TM’s glow-in-the-dark earth ball), fuzzy math (with TM’s car and refrigerator magnets illuminating how a full half of our country’s federal budget is designated to support war and weaponry), and voter fraud (with TM’s “The Computer Ate My Vote” hopping toy).
Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream fame started TrueMajority to monitor federal accountability based on the principles of peace, justice, and sustainability. Its members number at 500,000, making the online group a powerful force in the capital. When you sign up, the group sends out a short e-mail alert that explains the situation, so you can voice your opinion to the powers that be without ever having to leave the comfort of your own mouse. Details: www.truemajority.com.
A Little Holiday Help
Twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Easter, PWA-Holiday Charities donates a supply of Kroger gift cards to AIDS Foundation Houston to present to clients of its Stone Soup Pantry. Each $15 card enables a client to buy something extra—perhaps the ingredients for a special holiday meal. To raise the $45,000 to $50,000 required to purchase all the gift cards needed, and to maintain other programs that serve people living with AIDS, PWA-Holiday Charities presents two major annual benefit events, a Valentine’s show in February and a Halloween show in October, and other fundraisers throughout the year. The group, founded by the late, great Lady Victoria Lust and a community mainstay since the early years of the AIDS crisis, also seeks additional donations to help it continue Lady Victoria’s legacy of service (“Share the Wealth,” December 2004OutSmart). “We have a lot of new members who have a lot of energy and new ideas,” PWA-Holiday Charities chairman John Szewczyk says. “The heart is still there and it is as strong as ever.” Details: www.myspace.com/pwaholidaycharities, [email protected].
For More Than the Birds
Kiki Neumann, one of our favorite local artisans, crafted this fanciful birdhouse, which will be auctioned during the holiday market at The Artful Corner (3423 White Oak, 713/426-4ART). All proceeds from the raffle—of Neumann’s birdhouse as well as artwork donated by other featured artists—will benefit AIDS Foundation Houston. Artful Corner owner Margarete Sanchez-Ripps also encourages browsers and shoppers at the December 7–9 holiday market to bring new, unwrapped toys for the Red Ribbon Toy Drive, the annual holiday program of the AIDS Foundation.
The following groups have been chosen as OutSmart ‘s recommended Share the Wealth organizations for 2007, based upon their demonstrated contribution to Houston’s GLBT community. All of these groups are worthy of a little extra holiday cheer. Perhaps the wealth you wish to share is more voluntary in nature. All of these agencies and groups eagerly welcome new participation. For more recommendations, review our previous December-issue Share the Wealth lists.
Wanted : Money and Elbow Grease
Health & Wellness
AIDS Coalition of Coastal Texas
AIDS Foundation Houston
Bering Omega Community Services
Center for AIDS
Houston Area Women’s Center
Houston Buyers Club
Legacy Community Health Services
Lesbian Health Initiative
Planned Parenthood of Houston & Southeast Texas
• [email protected]
Montrose Counseling Center
Philanthropic Social Groups
Bayou City Boys Club
Bunnies on the Bayou
Colt 45’s Houston
Empire of the Royal Sovereign Imperial Court of the Single Star
Houston Black Tie Dinner
Imperial Court of Houston
Kindred Spirits Reunion Celebration
Krewe of Olympus
Texas Gay Rodeo Association
Community & Support
Gay Lesbian Switchboard Houston
Gay and Lesbian Latin Organization
Houston Gay & Lesbian Parents
Houston GLBT Community Center
Houston Transgender Unity Committee
Lambda Gay and Lesbian Alcoholics Anonymous
The Men’s Gathering of Houston
• [email protected]
Bayou City Performing Arts (Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston and Bayou City Women’s Chorus)
Houston Pride Band
Share the Wealth of Christmases Past: Over the past several years, we have spotlighted a number of organizations in our December Share the Wealth coverage. Here are previous selections:
AssistHers 713/521-4628 www.assisthers.org
AIDS Foundation Houston Red Ribbon Toy Drive 713/623-6796 www.aidshelp.org
Recommendations focused on efforts to assist people affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Pride Houston Hurricane Relief Fund 713/529-6979 www.pridehouston.org
New Orleans Center Fund of the Houston GLBT Community Center 713/524-3818 www.houstonglbtcommunitycenter.org
Recording Artists for Hope: The Katrina CD Vol. 1 www.katrinacd.com
PWA Holiday Charities? www.myspace.com/pwaholidaycharities
The Wishful Thinking Fund? ( Colt 45’s Houston?) 713/526-6077 www.colt45s.org
The Assistance Fund? The Assistance Fund and Montrose Clinic have merged in 2004 to form Legacy Community Health Services ( www.legacycommunityhealth.org).
PAWS Houston (Pets Are Wonderful Support) 713/840-PAWS ? www.pawshouston.org
AVES (Amigo Volunteers in Education and Service).? The AIDS service organization folded in 2005.
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas? (now Equality Texas ) 512/474-547 www.equalitytexas.org.
HATCH ?713/529-3590 www.hatchyouth.org
People With AIDS Coalition-Houston? . The AIDS service organization folded this year.
Donald R. Watkins Memorial Foundation?. 713/528-1748 ? www.josephgathe.com/drwmf
Lesbian Health Initiative Houston? 713/603-0023 ? www.lhihouston.org
Houston Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The organization changed its name to QFest this year.? www.q-fest.org
AssistHers? 713/521-4628 ? www.assisthers.org
Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of GLBT History? 713/227-5973 ? www.gcam.org
Friends of Tsungiriai ? www.usafriends.org
Q-Patrol?. The neighborhood patrol folded in 2005.
James Byrd Jr. Foundation for Racial Healing? 888/656-6414 ? http://byrdfoundation.org
Houston GLBT Community Center? 713/524-3818 www.houstonglbtcommunitycenter.org
?? PFLAG/H.A.T.C.H. Youth Scholarship Foundation? 713/942-7002 ? www.pflaghouston.org
Pride Committee of Houston (now Pride Houston ) ? 713/529-6979 www.pridehouston.org
AIDS Housing Coalition of Houston (reorganized in 2003 as the West Heights Shelter) 713/864-1795
52nd St. House . The Galveston shelter for homeless transgender individuals established by Community Awareness for Transgender Support closed in 2002.