No. Utah HIV/AIDS Group Takes Trip to Roaring 20s

Dolls, molls, gangsters, bootleggers and flappers will take over the Ogden Eccles Conference Center on Nov. 14, but not for any nefarious, anti-Prohibitionist reasons. In fact, the alcohol will flow freely at the cash bar and the food will be plentiful at the Northern Utah Coalition, Inc. HIV/AIDS Project’s A Night at the Speakeasy.

The evening is a fundraiser for the coalition, which assists Northern Utahns living with HIV/AIDS with such basic necessities as paying for rent, utilities, toiletries and groceries and for transportation to and from doctors and case managers in Salt Lake City. The project’s building at 536 24th St., Suite 2B in Ogden has a food bank that the Utah AIDS Foundation supplies twice a month and can help with bus tokens for people who don’t own cars or who can’t drive. The project also offers help during the winter holidays, often with food and with providing money for clients with children to buy Christmas gifts.

“We fill in the gaps between other programs,” said Project Director Sarah McClellan. “These things are important for people that have HIV or AIDS.”

Currently, McClellan estimates that the project serves between 30 and 35 regulars, but the chilly economy also means that more people are now looking to the project for help than ever before.

For this reason, A Night at the Speakeasy’s organizer, Sheena Scoffield, is hoping to sell all 300 tickets for the event. At press time, only 45 of those had been purchased.

“The Eccles Center said that if we don’t sell that many we can make the room [for the party] smaller, but to benefit the project we need to sell at least 150,” she said.

Tickets for the event are $40 and include access to a cash bar, a full-course tasty dinner (with a chicken, beef or vegetarian option) and an evening of music, silent auctions, raffles and dancing. While musical acts are still being booked, confirmed performers include James Dayley, the proprietor of Ogden’s eatery and antique shop Two-Bit Street Café, who will regale the crowds with such feats of magic as bending spoons with his mind.

“We’ve also got a group of about 18 dancers from Weber State [the fundraiser’s partner] who are going to come and perform the Charleston, and they’re willing to teach other people, too,” said Scoffield. A photographer will also be on hand to take pictures for those who dress up and want a keepsake of the evening. While fancy/period dress is encouraged, however, Scoffield said that people who don’t want to dress up don’t have to.

Like many fundraisers, An Evening at the Speakeasy will also include a silent auction and a raffle with such fabulous prizes as passes to the Snowbird Ski Resort and gift certificates from a number of Ogden restaurants.

“We’ve got really good support on that end,” said Scoffield. “Lots of people are giving us a lot of services and items.”

Overall, Scoffield hopes that the project can raise at least $1,500, though she noted that they would like the evening to draw $3,000 or $4,000 dollars, all of which will go to client services as well as counseling and free HIV/STD testing services. With the Eccles center waiving its room and parking fees and board members donating everything from decorations to candy cigarettes for sale, she said that every little bit will help.

“If we can get the money raised for the project, they aren’t going to stress about funds,” she said. “Sarah spends her days requesting grants to keep the office afloat. If they weren’t able to support Northern Utah, it would have a real impact because of all the things they do. It’s very stressful that I can’t get Northern Utah to give back to the coalition. It’s been a very rough month and a half to try and get tickets sold.”

Still, Scoffield said she hopes that people from all over the state will want to take a trip back in time for a good cause.

“I understand it’s hard economic times and right before Christmas, but right before Christmas is a very giving time usually,” she said. “Hopefully we can find some of those giving people to attend and help out.”

A Night at the Speakeasy will be held Nov. 14, 6:30 – 11:00 p.m. at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center, 2415 Washington Blvd. in Ogden. For more information or to purchase tickets visit northernutahcoalition.com or call Sarah McClellan at (801) 393-4153.

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