By Sebastian Fortino
On Saturday, April 28th several hundred gathered at Montgomery Park to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) Annual Auction & After Party. The event was very succesful, and they reached a goal of $670,000 making it a very succesful year. The funds, made from the sale of artworks in both a live and silent auction, are the largest art auction in the Pacific Northwest in terms of scale and funds raised.
Attendees heard from several members of the community, were entertained by Poison Waters, and heard from Tyler TerMeer, the Executive Director of CAP. In the few times I have met and spoken with TerMeer, his passion for the work he does comes through, even above the din of cutlery and glassware in a very crowded reception tent.
I thought it best to share his speech below. Thank you for sharing Mr. TerMeer, and thanks to you and your colleagues at CAP for all the great work they do.
"Good evening and thank you all for being here tonight to join us as we recognize and celebrate 30 years of the CAP Annual Art Auction!
I’d like to take my brief time with you this evening to reflect on the past 30 years of HIV in our community, how far we have come, where we are headed and how together we will continue making a difference in the thousands of lives CAP impacts in Oregon and SW Washington.
As we all know too well the AIDS pandemic began in the early 1980s and brought with it a surge of emotions from the public.
These emotions, along with public views on the LGBTQ+ community, paved the way for a new generation of artists.
Now, it would hardly be an exaggeration to describe American culture in the late 1980's as art in the era of AIDS. Art confronted AIDS the way people confront AIDS - with that same fear, anger, sorrow, defiance and confusion.
Artists involved in AIDS activist organizations had the ideology that while art could never save lives as science could, it may be able to deliver a message and the message sent by our local community of artists was one that proudly stated their commitment to their HIV+ and LGBTQ+ friends and family as well as to Cascade AIDS Project through the creation of the CAP Auction.
Over the last 30 years, we lost a generation of artists to the epidemic, but we also mobilized a community to carry on their work, create new works, and to help create a future for CAP and the communities we serve. We would not be here today without them … we wouldn’t be here today without you.
So, before I continue, I’d like to extend my personal thanks to all of the artists, collectors, and gallery owners here in the room who graciously donated work this year - please raise your hand and give us a wave.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize my colleagues here in the room from our community partner organizations:
Mary Rita Hurley - Executive Director, Our House
Lisa Watson – Deputy Director, Our House
Terry Bean – Founder, Human Rights Campaign
Arlene Schnitzer – Philanthropist, Pioneer of Art in Portland, and founder of Fountain Gallery
It’s hard to believe that a year has flown by since we all gathered here together at Montgomery Park. And quite the year it has been. This year among many milestones we:
Launched a new 3-year strategic plan
Expanded our work in SW Washington by opening a brand-new office location in Vancouver with 13 amazingly talented new members of our team serving more than 500 clients in Clark County
Engaged in challenging but critical work around power and privilege, trauma informed care, and historical trauma of the communities we serve
Opened the doors of Prism Health – Oregon’s LGBTQ+ focused Primary Care Practice – surpassing our year one business plan goals in the first 6 months.
Prism Health celebrates its one-year anniversary this week on May 2nd and in our first year of operations:
Have established more than 400 new patients in primary care, many of which have been out of care for years or never had a PCP.
One patient, a lesbian woman in her mid-50’s, drove from more than 2.5 hours away and upon leaving her appointment shared with us that this was the first time in the entirety of her life that she felt comfortable being out to her medical provider about her sexual orientation.
It's working and all of the reasons we built this practice are becoming a reality as evidenced by our growth and the stories of our patients!
We have an exciting road ahead of us, but none of this work would be possible without the foundation you all helped us build over the last 30 plus years.
So What is Next for CAP?
Since I last stood here, we have seen continued attacks on the communities we care so deeply about and serve through our mission each and every day.
The rights of LGBTQ+ Americans
Trans identified folks serving in the military
The safety and security of immigrants and dreamers
The power of the #me-too and #resistance movements
The fight to protect Access to healthcare coverage, family planning and women’s health
And “Enough being Enough”
We are in a time that harkens back to our beginnings as an organization. A time where silence could easily equal death and where we are challenged as organizations and as individuals to make a choice.
Hunker Down and Weather the Storm or Stand Strong!
Despite the political and funding challenges around us CAP is Standing Strong!
So, how can each of you here tonight help ...
Stay Informed & Stay Engaged with CAP – Your Voice Matters!
Keep coming to our events and raising your paddle!
And perhaps most importantly continue standing strong with CAP.
CAP and Prism Health are making a strong commitment to Voter Registration, Education, and Voter Turnout.
Together, we can make change in our political environment from local races all the way through Congress and on up to the White House.
When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we will continue to say, ‘No more.’
As Dr. King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
I hope you’ll consider joining us in these efforts.
From the bottom of my heart thank you for being here tonight. I’d like to welcome back to the stage – the fabulous - Poison Waters!"
If you're already marking your calendars for the next CAP Auction--and budgeting to bid--save the date for Saturday, April 27th, 2019.