Tacoma fundraiser offers informal evening of dining, music and friendship

While oftentimes big fundraising events put on by non-profit organizations can be costly outings for guests what with hefty admission ticket prices, a requirement to wear formals, and more money solicited through auctions and other means, Tacoma PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is taking the road less traveled with their second annual "Rainbows Over Tacoma" benefit.

Scheduled for Feb. 28 at Washington State History Museum, tickets are just $20 each (available at the door 6:15-7:15 p.m.) and all proceeds, after expenses, will be shared with five area organizations whose work aligns with Tacoma PFLAG's mission to promote the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning persons, their families and friends. The beneficiaries will be Pierce County AIDS Foundation, Rainbow Center, Tacoma Lesbian Concern, Out In Tacoma, Tacoma PFLAG, and the local chapter of the national Old Lesbians Organizing for Change.

Sponsors this year are Alfred's Cafe and Pacific Northwest Shop, which support Tacoma PFLAG through advertising dollars.

Guests are encouraged to wear comfortable, casual clothes to this evening of socializing and entertainment. The museum's downstairs galleries will be open for viewing prior to the stage shows, from 6:15-7:45 p.m., and a cash bar will be stocked with beers, wines, sodas and water.

Performers will take the stage of the museum's Mt. Tahoma Auditorium at 8 p.m. Tacoma PFLAG President Vernene Schaurer will emcee and introduce the various acts. The lineup features Tacoma favorite Kim Archer of Kim Archer Band with bassist Dominique Stone; award-winning cabaret singer Arnoldo! Drag Chanteuse accompanied by her pianist; and Sensible Shoes, a highly entertaining pop and vocal jazz ensemble of Seattle Women's Chorus.

The fundraiser also offers the chance to eat out at some of Tacoma's most popular restaurants as well, as "Rainbows Over Tacoma" is a team effort between Tacoma PFLAG and some of its local merchant donor supporters. Those planning to attend are encouraged to make a truly social evening of it and dine at any of the participating restaurants before heading over to the museum or stop by afterward for a late night snack or a drink with friends - or do both: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits (1920 Jefferson Ave.), Harmon Brewery and Restaurant (1838 Pacific Ave.), Indochine Asian Dining Lounge (1924 Pacific Ave.), The Swiss (1904 Jefferson Ave.), Old House Cafe (2717 N. Proctor St.), and Alfred's Cafe (402 Puyallup Ave.).

Tacoma PFLAG Treasurer Terry Rhines, who also coordinates "Rainbows Over Tacoma," noted that this year's fundraiser would be more streamlined than last year's inaugural event, which was quite successful. Tickets nearly sold out and last year's designated organizations received a check for $600 each.

"It was a lot of fun," Rhines said. This year he is hoping to repeat or excel 2008's achievements.  

Tacoma PFLAG is an affiliate chapter of the National PFLAG organization based in Washington, D.C. They provide monthly support to families with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender loved ones, provide education to organizations in Pierce County, and advocate for equal rights for all citizens.

Through its Safe Schools work, which Rhines also coordinates, Tacoma PFLAG has made significant impacts on schools in Tacoma and around the South Sound by making free presentations to teachers, staff and administrators about the risks facing sexual minority youth and what they can do to help stem harassment and create a climate of equality in schools. PFLAG speakers also visit local colleges to help enlighten students studying to be teachers and teachers studying to become principals.

"It's great," Rhines said of his work with Safe Schools. "I've always come away knowing I've at least broadened someone's scope and horizons."

Tacoma PFLAG meets the second Thursday of each month at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 7410 S. 12th St. For more information, visit www.pflagtacoma.org.


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