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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz

The lighthouse will be hopping Thursday night.

My Best Friend is Straight raises money, hope for community


"My Best Friend is Straight," the Cream City Foundation's seventh annual summer party and fundraiser, is Thursday, July 26, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event with the play-on-words title will be hosted once again at the North Point Lighthouse, 2650 N. Wahl St.

An after-party at Club Charlie's, 320 E. Menomonee St., starts at 9 p.m.

Billed as "an evening of frivolity and food for gay and straight friends," the fundraiser celebrates contributions to the Cream City Foundation, which raises money in order to give it away to groups following its mission of social change, advancing "the quality, dignity and health of LGBT people in Southeastern Wisconsin."

People can still order tickets online at a variety of donation levels. General admission is $50 or $75 at the door tomorrow night. A student / low-income level is available for $25.

This year the soiree will have an open bar, which has not been done at past events, and will have a silent auction, raffle and live auction.

Raffle prizes include two tickets from Southwest Airlines (a sponsor of the event), a $1,000 gift certificate for Vertex Construction and gift certificates to area theaters, restaurants and art, in addition to others.

The live auction doesn't actually auction any items; rather, people pledge donations during the event in an auction style.

One person who is really looking forward to the event is Paul Fairchild, who became president and CEO of the Cream City Foundation on March 1.

"The mission of the Cream City Foundation is to work with LGBT organizations and ally organizations. This event is a way to say that those orgs that aren't specifically LGBT-identified, but do work for or with or are supportive of it with time, talent, and resources, are always welcome at our events," says Fairchild.

This will be Fairchild's first "My Best Friend is Straight" event, but he's seen pictures of the previous events and heard lots of stories. It will be his first big event for the foundation.

"I'm excited to be at the lighthouse, actually, because even if it's hot, it will be cooler by the lake. I can't think of any place I'd rather be Thursday night than overlooking Lake Michigan," says Fairchild.

Milwaukeeans involved with the foundation were able to lure Fairchild away from his history of non-profit leadership in Chicago, where he was most recently chief development officer of the renowned Howard Brown Health Center.

Howard Brown specializes in the health care needs of Chicago's LGBT community members of all ages and levels of insurance coverage.

The six previous "My Best Friend is Straight" events have been quite successful, according to members of its host committee, who put in the most time pulling everything together each year.

"It is a fun party where everyone gay or straight comes together. I love seeing allies and members of the gay and transgender community all standing side by side for fairness," says Denise Cawley, marketing and advertising specialist with Circore Creative and member of this year's host committee.

Catering at the event is by Kathy Papineau's MKE Localiscious catering company and food service, which she started in Shorewood three years ago to provide made-to-order, locally-sourced, homemade meals. MKE Localiscious is famous for its $5 soup in a jar, which Papineau offers to the people from her food truck.

Joseph Pabst, an openly gay descendent of the brewery family, is honorary chair of the event this year.

"Being an honorary chair is the best kind of honor, because you don't have to do anything," says Fairchild.

Pabst is being recognized for his long history of philanthropy in Milwaukee.

The Cream City Foundation's board and its strategic planning committee are putting finishing touches on a new plan for the foundation, which will be announced soon. Fairchild is expected to lead, a perhaps only hopeful, resurgence of charitable giving as the Great Recession continues.

Some in Milwaukee's donor community have felt they haven't seen enough progress, or bang-for-their-buck, according to other non-profit leaders. But even in this era of declining philanthropy, maybe the renewed vigor of the city's non-profits can continue the important work of social change.

"This is a wonderful time in the Milwaukee LGBT Community. We have so much new leadership of important organizations: Cream City, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Equality Wisconsin and more. All of us leaders are holding hands and cooperating together," says Cawley.


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