When the cold winds and snow finally subside in New York City, a new season of charitable Spring galas arrive, promising fun and fabulosity while supporting great humanitarian causes.
Two of the most anticipated are The AQUA Party – a fundraising event held in the Fire Island Pines for the past 8 years and the Aqua NYC gala which will be held this year at the famed Landmark on The Park in Upper Westside Manhattan. Both events are among the must-dos of the year, with significant corporate sponsorship from top companies such as HBO, Merrill Lynch & American Airlines.
I consider it an honor that my dear friend Anthony Inniss, a board member of Aqua, has invited me and my partner to attend this year’s sold-out gala. Naturally, I could never decline such an exclusive invite, so I accepted – but still, I wanted to learn more about exactly what they do.
With over 2000 attendees at their events, the focused mission is to help children internationally, many of whom lack shelter, clothing, food or even basic necessity such as clean drinking water. By partnering with The Water Project – one of Aqua Party’s most prestigious international partners, they provide clean water wells, latrines and hand-washing stations to schools in Kenya. These projects have enabled children to gain an education more productively and avoid illness due to unsanitary environments.
Domestically, the acclaimed Ali Forney Center has also partnered with Aqua. They are one of the most valuable resources as they support local homeless LGBTQ youth, providing safe housing, food, medical care, and counseling. Tragically, forty percent of homeless youth overall are from the LGBTQ community. The Aqua Party is dedicated to stopping this crisis.
Hosted by Aqua founders Tony D’Angelo & Gabriel Manzon, this year’s NYC gala promises to be a star-studded, inspiring event, kicking off with a VIP reception, silent auction, 3-course dinner and a performance by powerhouse vocal diva, Inaya Day. Additional noted guests include Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy), Rubin Singer and cast members from “Saturday Church” including Luka Kain, Alexia García (Pose FX) and possibly another big name from the PoseFX Cast.
Many of this year’s event sponsors have a personal connection to the charitable organizations that work with Aqua. Ali Forney Center is located in Chelsea, one of New York’s most historically gay neighborhoods and Xavier Cruz, owner of Barba Men’s salon maintains an active presence in that community.
In a heartfelt expression of why he loves working with Aqua, Xavier shared with me the following sentiment,
“Helping homeless LGBT youth is really important to my entire team and me at Barba. My salon is located in Chelsea, where so many gay kids come to live, often kicked out of the house for being gay. So we’re proud to be an Aqua Party auction sponsor, helping to raise money for a great cause.”
With a unique and signature style all her own, award winning comedian and activist Lea Delaria (Orange Is The New Black) will serve as the evening’s celebrity host and MC.
In a moment of sharing his vision for the organization, Gabriel Manzon expressed what the Aqua organization represents in totality,
“Our mission is to bring attention to those who have inspired us in our community to help our youth…both locally & internationally. The changes we make now will forever impact the future of those we are championing. We also hope to inspire others in our community to help our youth because by helping our children, we hope to better our humanity.”
He further offered a favorite quote from Nelson Mandela – one that embodies all of Aqua’s efforts, “history will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”
This year’s celebration coincides with honoring the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and NYC World Pride. I’ll be there with bells on, and I promise to share lots of pics with our Instinct Magazine readers along the way..
Happy World Pride!