THE LEATHER FOUNDATION PRESIDENT’S REPORT - 2014
2014 has been an interesting and fruitful year for The Leather Foundation. Indeed, The Foundation has grown a lot this year. Here is my annual report of our activities in 2014.
The LIFE Condom Fund. This fund has been the most public of our Funds. Since the beginning of the condom fund in 2008 we have distributed 550,607condoms to bars, the VA medical facilities, community health clinics and college health services. In 2014 we distributed 191,191 condoms. This year we also saw the 500,000th condom distributed. It was in Flicks bar on University Avenue. The fund has seen growth but also some retrenchment. The reductions in distribution places were due to realignment of the contracts for the delivery of condoms by the County of San Diego. Additionally, there were delays in midyear in receipt of condoms/lubes from the condom access program of the California Office of AIDS. We added the VA Clinic in Mission Valley and also San Diego’s newest gay bar, the Dog Pound on 5th Avenue. If you know of a place that you believe that we should place our condoms in, please contact us and we will work to get them there.
The Education Fund has created some pamphlets for the Foundation. One is describing the foundation and its funds. The second was “BDSM is not Abuse.” We hope that you pick these pamphlets up and share them with your friends. The Education fund has also overseen the emergence of The Leather Foundation’s library. You will certainly hear more on that throughout the coming year.
While we are talking about education, we have the LGBT Scholarship Fund. An annual scholarship will be given to eligible students at the few colleges and universities that have a gay and lesbian studies. Our initial focus is at San Diego State University, New York University and Northwestern University. We have developed our application and selection process so we can distribute the scholarship money in 2015. We also have established a second scholarship fund that will be general and be used for studies at colleges and universities and technical colleges.
Our Travel Fund assisted Mr. and Ms. San Diego Leather with some expenses.
HIPS (Hepatitis Integrated Program Services) is our social service program that addresses the unmet needs of people living with Hepatitis or who are at high risk of getting Hepatitis. HIPS operates in the central and eastern parts of San Diego County. We expect to expand our program to other parts of the county in 2015. To date, we have enrolled 79 clients into the program. The HIPS staff participated in many outreach events throughout San Diego. One of the most important events was the 2014 United States Conference of AIDS held in San Diego. We learned that HIPS is ahead of other areas of the USA in addressing the Hepatitis epidemic. Our program has received national and even some international interest. The HIPS Program went international this year with advising people with Hepatitis C in Nepal, helping pharmacists in Egypt realize the new drug regime for Hepatitis C. In Kenya we gave a strong support by supplying information on HIV and Hepatitis C to the general population through students at Kenya University in Nairobi.
In July we had another fruitful time at San Diego Pride 2014 Festival. We had an information tent in the Leather Realm section of the Festival. We distributed condoms and lubes and information about the Foundation and our HIPS program. Volunteers from HIPS and TLF were at the table over the two days. Thanks to these volunteers we were the only non-commercial, non-profit organization in the Leather Realm. Several hundred people, gay and straight, stopped by our tent. Free condoms and lubricant is always a hit with folks.
Our Leather Cares Help Fund was started on January 1, 2014. Its mission is to provide assistance to people in the alternative sex-positive community who are in need of urgent or emergency help that cannot be addressed through other programs. During the year we helped some individuals. Many fundraisers were held in 2014 to support this fund. They included providing bar service at Hillcrest Business Association events, a joint event at the Cigars & Boots Social and special fundraising events hosted by Mr. San Diego Leather 2013, Eli Correa, and Ms. San Diego Leather 2012, Wish Linda.
We had begun putting into place three different programs. The first is for our seniors. Our program will be able to help keep them in their own homes by providing the support necessary to accomplish this. The youth program will begin by our antibullying program and will see other implementations of other services for our youth. And we also are working with two different immigration attorneys to make sure that when necessary we have attorneys available for Immigration Court. This immigration program will be launched in San Diego and Dallas, Texas.
During the year we hosted fund raisers or were the recipient of donations from fund raising events held by others.
In February we were the recipient of the funds raised at The Mr. San Diego Eagle 2014 weekend. This will be the case for the Mr. San Diego Eagle 2015 contest in February. It is the first of three such events that will be held in San Diego in 2015: Mr. San Diego Eagle in February, West Coast Olympus Leather in July and the Mr. and Ms. San Diego Leather contest in August.
We held our first national fundraiser, which we called 10/10 Challenge, on October 10. Our goal was to raise $10,010. We raised a little more than $8000 in cash and pledges. It was run via social media much like other national telethons. I especially appreciate the help we received from the Leather Sash Communities in New York City and Los Angeles, plus San Diego.
Several fundraisers were held by us throughout the year and many were held for us. Some of these fundraisers were through the Pictionary Night program at #1 Fifth Avenue bar hosted by our beloved Tiger.
In October, Julie Hoffman and El Bisarro, who work with our HIPS program, put together a fundraiser called Leather and Lace Luau held at the Gay and Lesbian Center. Julie and El did a marvelous job and much credit goes to Julie for her hard work to make sure it all came together. El worked closely with Julie and made sure that she had the support that she needed. This was Julie’s first try at doing a fundraiser. It indeed was a wonderful success.
We had several Leather Night at the Diversionary Theater and one Night at the Lyceum Theater downtown. These nights are wonderful ways to expand out leather culture and publicize The Leather Foundation. And they were fun events
We received support from the new San Diego Boot black contest that is produced by Colt Everyday.
And finally, Mama Cass held two of her Shows to benefit the Foundation. This is an ongoing monthly fundraiser and if you have not been to it, it is a wonderful show and there is an auction and raffle prizes included. The next one is upcoming in late January at Number’s.
The Foundation supported the Imperial Court de San Diego’s Easter basket and bicycle give-away. This large, annual event helps underprivileged children of San Diego.
We also were a supporter of the yearly Leather Fetish Ball. We supplied the food for the event and it was a very successful event and everyone loved the food.
We also cosponsor with the Imperial Court a monthly community brunch at which we honored such luminaries as Mr. Tom Dickerson, Wayne Dietz, Carla, the interpreter, Annie Romano , , Michael Zorba, Randy Abatangelo, Brittany Morgan, Mike Russell, Robb Rodriguez.
I would be remiss if I didn’t note that we had a change in personnel in the year. Treasurer Ron Rinker resigned and he was replaced by Anthony Harmon. We wish to thank Ron for his many contributions to improving the work of The Leather Foundation. We also wish to extend a hearty welcome to Anthony.
As I mentioned The Leather Foundation is continuing to grow. We hoped to open a full service office in North Park this year. But negotiations for an office site were unsuccessful at the last minute so we continue to look for affordable space. I can report that we have been offered space for our HIPS program in El Cajon. It will be open early in 2015.
One final thing. Looking to the future, we look to solidify and expand our programs in the City and County of San Diego. We also have been approached by several people in the leather communities of Los Angeles County to bring some of our programs to their area. These people believe we can fill a basic need in the services provided to the Leather Community in LA.
Of course none of this would be possible if it were not for the many members of the leather/kink community who had contributed throughout the year. And we thank you very much for your help. I hope that you are as proud of your efforts as we are of you.
All in all 2014 was very good year. And I look forward to seeing how we can work together to help each other through the coming new year.
Russ Mortenson Boyd, President
December 31, 2014