During the final planning meeting for The Octopus Club’s fall 2013 fundraiser, OctoTea 18, club founder Lew Aldridge read aloud an email he received from a 21-year-old, straight, newly-HIV-positive man. The young man explained that he did not have enough money that month to pay for both his rent and for his HIV medicine. He had an impossible choice: lose his apartment but remain on his life-saving medicine, or stay in his home but take a possibly dangerous lapse in medication.
He reached out to Lew after searching online for HIV financial assistance in Austin. He was unaware of the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund, AIDS Services of Austin’s fund of last resort, which was established to assist individuals experiencing these exact crises. Before reaching out to Lew, the young man had no one else to ask for help.
The Octopus Club, a grassroots all-volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of the fund through annual events and parties, has been enormously successful, having raised more than $2 million for the fund over 25 years. The club’s most recent event, spring’s ArtErotica, raised an additional $60,000.
Still, this young man’s message struck a cord with Octopus Club members. They concluded that still more needed to be done to educate Austin’s younger population about the fund’s existence. They also concluded that more needed to be done to stress the importance of safe sex practices among young people. According to recent data, the number of residents in the Austin/Travis County area living with HIV has increased more than 40 percent since 2006.
Thus, INK was born. The spinoff group’s mission: Uniting young professionals, Advancing the Paul Kirby Fund, Promoting safe sex. INK is dedicated to continuing the phenomenal fundraising efforts Octopus Club is known for. It will also provide Austin’s future leaders and young philanthropists with meaningful opportunities to contribute to the fund.
The group’s inaugural event, INK’s Spring Brunch, will be held this Sunday, May 4, 2014 from 11 AM to 2 PM at the Hummingbird House, 12805 Arroyo Doble Dr., Manchaca, Texas 78652. Just like the Octopus Club, every single penny raised at this — and every INK event — will go directly to the Paul Kirby Fund.
Renowned Austin chef Zack Teegardin will prepare Sunday’s menu. Currently a chef at Perry’s Steakhouse in Downtown Austin, Teegardin previously was a chef at Sway restaurant. Brunch will also include mimosas, a bloody Mary bar, a selection of juices, and coffee — all set in the beautiful grounds of the Hummingbird House.