Adventures of Mad Hatter's Escape

Wed. May 2, 2012 12:00 AM
by Terrence Chappell

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No need for the long, overly descriptive introductions; simply put I've been having an epic time with some great people and even greater causes. From losing gravity at Mad Hatter's Tea Party to guest bartending for the Chicago Coalition for Homeless, Chicago has been giving me its best, one weekend at a time.

I was absolutely elated when my good friend, Brooke Henton asked me to be a guest bartender for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless' (CCH) premiere charity event at Smartbar. Henton is an associate member for CCH. CCH is the only nonprofit in Illinois that advocates for public policies that can potentially end homelessness. I joined about fifteen other guest bartenders, their friends and family on cheering and cocktailing to end homelessness in Chicago. Smartbar's professional bartenders gave the guest bartenders a tutorial on bartending 1on1 but not going to lie, my mantra for the night was to smile, pour, and enjoy! I served my best cocktail recommendation of EFFEN Cucumber Vodka infused with Ginger Ale over ice and it was a big hit among the guests. Each bartender's total tips were donated to CCH and by the end of the night, collectively we raised $15,709 online tips as well as actual tips; not bad for just fifteen guest bartenders. I think I might have a second calling as a bartender!

Jerry Azumah, former Bears' player, held his kick-off signature fundraiser for his nonprofit, ASAP Foundation, at Studio Paris, located on River North's lively Hubbard Street. According to the website, since it's inception in 2004, the ASAP Foundation has worked to provide high school scholarships for disadvantaged students. I definitely applaud Azumah on taking it back to where it all matters and that's helping people. Azumah is a very approachable guy with a genuine energy that would make even the most tense feel comfortable, which is also reflected in the company he keeps. My fave DJ, DJ Rock City set the tone for Studio Paris' fresh, swanky Miami ambience. The event was a kick-of for Azumah's Fourth Annual Signature Event at Lucky Strikes on May 16 where local celebrities will bowl competitively for a worthy cause. Newly minted ASAP's executive director, Micaeh Johnson, knows all too well the high costs of a good education, which is why she feels the signature fundraiser on May 16 at Lucky Strikes is so important.

"It is our hope to raise 100K this year to underwrite these scholarships and increase the amount of scholarships awarded. Through our events we raise awareness and funding. For our event on May 16, guests can expect to bowl alongside Professional Chicago Athletes, enjoy the best spirits, eat well and go home full after contributing to great cause for our event this year," said Johnson.

My good friend Damian Christopher hosted his art installation at Mini Bar: Hope, a photos series/documentary that chronicles the plight of thousands of children that have become orphans as a result of the recent civil war. Christopher captured the photos while in Nepal working with a priest. Christopher's photos tell a visceral tale of struggle and loss of innocence while reminding viewers that there's a world past ours. There was a suggested donation and all proceeds at the door and a percentage of the art sales went to benefit the Himalayan Children's Charities. Kudos to Christopher for shedding light to a cause and community that might otherwise went ignored by some.

Girls, girls, girls was my initial thought and impression when I attended Equality Illinois' Spring Women's Social at bridal boutique Mignonette, 1747 W. Belmont, in West Lakeview. Since gay men, not complaining either, dominate Chicago it's rare to see so many lesbians and queer women all in one room. I had a great time! I also met the Patti Stanger of our community, Emily Fry. Fry owns In Good Company, a dating service for straight, gay, and lesbian professionals, and was kind enough to offer me advice on meeting and attracting Mr. Right. EQIL's CEO Bernard Cherkasov was also in attendance. It's always great to connect with Cherkasov since he's such sweet guy and is doing great things at EQIL. Congrats to Kevin Mork for organizing such a great and fun event and for his new role as community relations director for the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago; they have a terrific addition! Mork was happy to give back and appeal to sometimes an overlooked demo in the LGBT community.

"EQIL's Spring Women's Social at Mignonette was a fantastic success! A diverse crowd from around Chicagoland came together for the afternoon to socialize, enjoy great food, sip cocktails, and most importantly to support our statewide LGBT-rights work. This social benefited our 501(c)(3) educational arm, Equality Illinois Education Project. With the help of a dedicated group of host committee members and volunteers, we organize two women's socials each year. The next one will take place in the late fall. We are already looking forward to it," said Mork.

Until next update, get those tank tops and beach bods ready because summer is around the corner!