Philadelphia, PA - DVLF (Delaware Valley Legacy Fund) announced a cohort of seven organizations, individuals, and groups to receive the LGBTQ community’s prestigious annual distinction of “HEROES” at the brunch and awards ceremony on Sunday, April 29 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. This special event, is once again held at the gorgeous Kimpton Hotel Monaco at 433 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.
The 2018 honorees are:
- Dante Austin, Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department (individual category)
- Councilwoman Helen Gym, Philadelphia City Council (straight ally category)
- Jerome Pipes, Camden Area Health Education Center (nonprofit category)
- Ayyden Edwards, Attic Youth Center (youth category)
- Geno’s Steaks (local business category)
- American Reading Company (national business category)
- The DVLF Legacy Society (Lifetime Achievement Award)
“This year’s honorees have done so much to strengthen and inspire our region’s vibrant LGBTQ community,” said Fernando Gonzalez, DVLF Board of Directors President. “We are thrilled to recognize their diverse contributions during DVLF’s silver anniversary year.”
Through the nomination process, DVLF identifies youths, adults, non-profits, straight-allies, and businesses who have bold ideas, act with selfless intention, are admired for their integrity, and regarded as courageous. DVLF honors these HEROES annually in celebration of their character and encouragement of others to follow their example. Individual tickets and tables are on sale now on DVLF’s website. Attendees can further support this event and DVLF by becoming a sponsor. Sponsors so far include PNC Bank, the American Reading Company, Specialty Productions, Zachary Porianda, and Paul Fontaine.
2018 Heroes information:
Dante Austin was the first LGBT officer to serve as LGBT liaison to a Pennsylvania law enforcement agency. Since his appointment in 2016, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department has actively participated in events such as the Philly Pride Parade and OutFest while also supporting organizations such as the Home for Hope shelter. Last year, Dante worked with Sheriff Jewell Williams on a directive and subsequent officer trainings to foster greater respect and understanding for transgender members of the community. Dante, a veteran who served under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is passionate about combating homophobia, particularly in military and law enforcement communities.
Councilwoman Helen Gym has served as a strong advocate for Philadelphia's diverse LGBTQ community, since her election in 2015. She held the council’s first hearing on youth homelessness and secured $2 million to address the issue, which disproportionately affects LGBTQ youth and youth of color. Last year, she coordinated the first-ever recognition of Trans Day of Visibility in Philadelphia which will take place again on March 31, 2018. Currently, she is working: to better protect transgender and gender-nonconforming students in Philadelphia schools, to ensure that students have access to nurses and counselors, to help City employees get access to health services such as in vitro fertilization, and more.
Jerome T. Pipes is the Lead Care and Treatment Adherence Psychosocial Service Coordinator for those affected by HIV/AIDS at the Camden Area Health Education Center. He helps lead the efforts to provide HIV testing, counseling, harm reduction, needle exchange, and more. He has been active in AIDS awareness events, Black Lives Matter, healthcare reform, and many other grassroots movements and issues. He has previously been recognized by the Nonprofit Development Center of Southern New Jersey and the Camden County Board of Elected Freeholders for - among other things - his advocacy for underserved communities.
Ayyden Edwards, 16, is a member of the Justice League, an after school internship program that addresses social justice issues impacting queer and trans youth, as well as the Attic Youth Center’s Thrive Project. This project empowers queer youth of color and their peers to support their health and wellbeing. Through his outreach and advocacy, he has pushed for LGBTQ youth housing security, mental health support services, disability rights, and more.
Geno Vento of Geno’s Steaks has served as a philanthropist for an array of organizations throughout the region, including the American Cancer Society, Broad Street Ministry, Best Buddies Pennsylvania, and many more. Notably, he has helped the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus vastly expand its outreach program, which provides performances at a different school in the region each month of its performance season as well as free student tickets to PGMC’s main concerts.
Built and run by education activists, American Reading Company provides curricula and children’s literature to more than 5,000 schools, placing literacy and agency at the heart of school transformation. ARC publishes and supports diverse classroom libraries that include LGBTQ stories, topics, characters, themes, and authors. ARC has supported Stonewall National Education Project, Philadelphia Family Pride and PFP’s Family Matters Conference which build community for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents, and others through advocacy and education. Matt Reher, Director of Academic Design is accepting the award on the organization’s behalf.
The DVLF Legacy Society is comprised of generous leaders who have made bequests or estate gifts to help meet the needs of the Greater Philadelphia region’s LGBTQ community for years to come. The group has over 50 members and a pipeline of more than $14 million in planned gifts through wills, IRAs, 401ks, life insurance, real estate, valuables, trusts, annuities, and more.