An event worth betting on

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The pandemic has halted many events in their tracks, including pivotal gatherings for organizations whose clients’ needs have not slowed down. Action Wellness is one of those nonprofits, and their Glamsino Royale event is normally packed full of people working towards a great cause while having fun.

Now, that event has switched to the virtual sphere for 2021.

Kevin Burns, Executive Director of Action Wellness sat down with Metro to discuss more about the event.

Can you tell me about Action Wellness and what you’re all about? 

Action Wellness started in 1986 as Action Aids. We changed our name a few years ago to Action Wellness for a couple of reasons: We wanted our name to reflect the progress that we’ve made in the community with the treatment of people with HIV to demonstrate that people with HIV can achieve wellness if they have access to really good care and services.

At the time, we expanded our target population to include not only people with HIV,  but people with other chronic illnesses as well. It’s really a social-work based practice where we work with people to build a relationship with them and then our focus is all about removing barriers that people experience to accessing primary medical care, medications, housing, food security—all of the things that can be barriers to people staying well. We have five offices, four of them are in Philly in Center City, North Philadelphia and two in West Philly and also in Chester, PA in Delaware County.  

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What went into making the decision to turn the Glamsino event virtual this year? 

We have had a partnership with the Palomar Hotel (Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia) for 9 years. The first year it was actually called Fashion in Action and Mondo (Guerra)—one of the designers who won ‘Project Runway’—came to Philadelphia and created some outfits. We had a fashion show and then we auctioned off some of the outfits that he created, and it was a huge success.

We couldn’t get a designer for the next year, so we decided to transform the event into a casino event. We changed the name to the Glamsino Royale and every year has been sort of a Bond-theme where people get all dressed up, and play different gaming tables. It’s become one of our most successful events and has sold out for the last five years.

With COVID, we obviously can’t have that event where we have large groups of people, so we really put our thinking caps on and decided to do it virtually this year. The staff has been incredibly innovative in terms of working with the community to pull the event together. We’ll have a very limited number of people at the Palomar—the show host and the producer and our staff, and we’ve turned it into a Bond-themed trivia game where people can participate through our Youtube channel. Then we have some really amazing performers who have volunteered their talent and their time.

Stella D’Oro, one of the Bingo-verifying divas is going to be the MC for our Glamsino, and then we have Sean Thompson performing, some mixology demonstrations from Square 1682 and then we also have Peter Andrew dancing. I think it will be a really fun evening, we tried to do something really different and fun. 

Is there anything specific about this year that people should know? 

We are sending out swag bags with snacks and some fun things, but at this point if people buy a ticket, we’re going to ask them to swing by our office at 1216 Arch Street on the 6th floor so that they’ll get their bag in time. 

Are there other ways that people can support Action Wellness?

Absolutely. We started as an all-volunteer organization, and volunteers are still the heart and the soul of the organization. People can still volunteer with us, we’re doing a lot of support with our clients calling in and checking in with people, there are some people who want to go to the office and get out of the house too. Our offices are safe, we’ve limited the number of people in our offices throughout the week so that it’s safe to come in, and we do require that people wear masks.

They can always donate to us online through our website too, of course, we’re always happy to have that. I know it’s a difficult time for people now, so I always like to say a donation in any amount we are very grateful for. People can also support us through social media. We’re on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, people can like and follow us and we post what’s going on at the agency and what we’re proud of. 

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Why is this event important?

This event in particular, I feel like it brings our community together. It’s a chance for us to have a fun time together. The work that we do is pretty serious and can be heartbreaking—most of the clients we work with even before the pandemic were living in the margins of society in terms of poverty and food insecurity, and it can be really tough.

The clients that we work with are faced with some major challenges, and our volunteers as well as our staff absorb that, so Glamsino and our events are our chance to come together as a community and have a good time, while we’re all sort of raising funds to support the work that we do. We have built, I think, an incredible community of caring here at Action Wellness. We work really hard to not only take care of our clients, but to take care of our volunteers and staff and our donors, and I think that comes to cross. People who get connected to us in that way feel that connection and that’s really important to us above and beyond the fundraising that we do at these types of events. 

To learn more about Action Wellness and to buy a ticket to the Glamsino Royale, visit actionwellness.org

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