By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

Photo: Joining Hearts, Sher Pruitt

 

As the biggest highlight of the summer party schedule as well as Joining Hearts’ largest fundraiser, the this weekend’s pool party in Piedmont Park serves as an ideal party with a purpose. We talked to Joining Hearts President, Jerry Henderson, about the magnitude and importance of the event.

 

Tell us a little about the background of Joining Hearts.

Since 1987, Joining Hearts has been raising awareness and funds to support prevention, care, and housing assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta.  The organization has truly evolved to ensure that it continues to address the needs of the Atlanta community by expanding its mission to include prevention due to the increased transmission rates in Atlanta where numbers are as high as third world countries.  We will be here till there is a cure, and Atlanta experiences low to zero transmission rates as other major cities.

 

The Joining Hearts Main Event – The CELEBRATE Pool Party – is for many the highlight of the summer social calendar. What makes this event so unique?

This event is unique as it is our largest fundraiser of the year and it attracts people from across the world to our city to celebrate unity and love that will impact the community in which we all live.  We are not just a party; we are a way of life for those who are directly impacted by HIV/AIDS, and we support them by putting on various events throughout the year.

 

The format of the party this is overall the same, but you still manage to create a unique spin on it every year. What can guests expect at this year’s CELEBRATE main event?

The organization spends countless hours, days, and months in preparation for this event.  It may be the same, but it’s clear that our focus is to create an event of inclusiveness by engaging people from different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities.  We strive to ensure our mission is at the forefront to educate our guests in an environment that is safe and fun, promoting the real reason why we do this event. Guests can expect beats by DJ Rick Braile and DJ Andres Vergel with delicious bite prepared to you by Sun In My Belly.  We have extended our partnership with Tito’s Handmade Vodka so our guests may enjoy the cocktail of choice for Joining Hearts.

 

You get a lot with a general admission ticket, but VIP offers you an even greater experience. Take us through the various ticket tiers, please?

In general admission, you enjoy delicious bites and with choice of a vodka cocktail while the VIP experience is much more with a wider selection food offering with an expanded selection of cocktails beyond vodka.

 

Joining Hearts supports the work of local HIV/AIDS organizations – can you talk about which organization will be the beneficiaries this year?

Since 1987, Joining Hearts have donated over $2.5M back into the Atlanta community to various organizations through grants such as AID Atlanta, Jerusalem House, Living Room, Open Hand, Lost and Found Youth, Grady Prep Clinic, etc. to name a few.  When our fundraising year ends at the end of the year, we hold our annual check presentations where we distribute checks to those organizations who meet the guidelines that have been set forth under our mission.

 

If you can’t attend the event, how can you otherwise support Joining Hearts?

Joining Hearts offers many ways to GET INVOLVED and SUPPORT US by being a volunteer, host, patron, or sponsor for our events in our efforts to raise much-needed funds.  It literally takes a village to do the work, which makes significant impacts in our community.  More information on how you can GET INVOLVED can be found by visiting our website joininghearts.org and get to know the organization.

 

What’re a good three things you need to remember when going to the CELEBRATE Pool Party?

The three pieces of information I want people to remember when going to Joining Hearts 32: CELEBRATE are:

  1. Have fun, and celebrate love!
  2. Remember the lives that have been lost to HIV/AIDS!
  3. End the stigma and support each other through giving!