In 1999, 800 women gathered in South Florida for a one-day event and raised $15,000 for two local breast cancer organizations. The seed that was sown as Sweet Charity has grown into four days of parties and special events attracting thousands of women from around the world and continuing to raise money for charity.
This year Aqua Girl, as it is now called, will take over Miami, Florida, May 12-16, and offer LBT women 14 events from parties to dances to shows, dinners and live entertainment. And Aqua Girl has stayed true to its roots -- all of the proceeds will benefit the Aqua Foundation for Women, a not-for profit organization that promotes equality, health and visibility of LBT women.
Aqua Girl is the brainchild of event producer Alison Burgos. "I think I had this dream in my head of this great party with thousands of women with lights and sounds but I don’t think I had the vision that women would come from all over and become so empowered and that it would become such a positive weekend. It’s really special because it’s done by the community."
“We are looking for the event to be bigger and better than ever,” says Aqua Foundation President Laura Steckler. “We want to make sure that we appeal to a cross section of LBT women so of course we have a lot of exciting pool parties but we have also developed a new cultural path where there is a dine out event on South Beach. We have a comedy show with Elvira Kurt …We have a brunch … we have lots of events that will appeal to women across all spectrums, which is what we want to do.”
This year’s Aqua Girl will reflect some changes and growth for the Aqua Foundation, explains Steckler. “We have grown the board of directors and have hired an executive director as well as another full time director.”
More on next page...
Offering memberships is another new initiative. “We want to make sure that women have ownership so we developed our first membership drive where we are going to be creating member benefits and people will have an opportunity to be a part of the work we are doing,” adds Steckler.
The growing success of Aqua Girl means the foundation can provide expanded help to the LBT community. “Since 2004 Aqua Foundation has given away over $250,000 in grants and scholarships. In 2010-2011 we are going to give grants up to $50,000 in addition to expanding our scholarship program to graduating high school seniors, college students and graduate students who identify as LBT and are active in the LBT community. Our goal is to foster leadership and empowerment...
“We are really proud of our scholarship program … we give a grant of up to $5,000 and then we follow them for a year and link them with a mentor in the community, typically a professional woman, ideally in the scholar’s field of study.” The mentor provides academic, community and professional support.
More on next page...
Aqua Girl 2010 will present a variety of programs at locations in Miami and Miami Beach including:
Get more from Edie here!