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Swirl and Twirl celebrates 10 years

Ottawa fundraiser continues to benefit city’s LGBT organizations

Community members mingle at Swirl and Twirl. The fundraiser returns for its 10th year on May 29. Credit: Photo provided by Swirl and Twirl

It’s an important year for Swirl and Twirl. On May 29, the fundraiser will mark a decade of raising funds to benefit the city’s LGBT organizations. Always a successful and swanky event, the evening includes food and wine tastings, entertainment and a silent auction and provides a much-needed opportunity for networking.

Past beneficiaries of Swirl and Twirl have included PTS and Jer’s Vision. This year, the funds raised will go to Bruce House, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, Capital Pride and Inside Out Ottawa. “Before . . . people would just name organizations and we would pick from that, but about three years ago, we decided to change that process,” event co-chair Denis Schryburt says.

Organizations are now chosen based on an applications process and their ability to contribute volunteers to the event. “The percentage of the funds that you get depends on how many volunteers you bring out, how many tickets you sell and so on,” Schryburt says.

“A lot of our sponsorships are a little low this year because everybody’s having a tough time,” he adds. Many small businesses are still feeling the effects of the recession, which has made them less able to sponsor events like Swirl and Twirl. Even some bigger sponsors, like RBC, haven’t returned this year.

Nevertheless, Schryburt is cautiously optimistic that the event will surpass the $10,100 it raised last year. “Any kind of funds that you raise for these organizations is worthwhile,” he says. “I’m hoping [for] $15,000. I’m putting it out there.” So far ticket sales have been good, he says.

Schryburt has been involved with Swirl and Twirl for four years and has co-chaired the event for three. Over the years he has handled sponsorship, ticket sales and even the website. A familiar face in the city, he says this will likely be his last big event before the October municipal election, in which he’s running for the Somerset Ward city council seat.

Swirl and Twirl’s 2014 sponsors include Dorothy’s Closet, the Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Mortgage Alliance. Silent auction items are also starting to trickle in, with two Via train tickets to Toronto, a gift basket from After Stonewall, and gift certificates for Bodé Spa for Men and Venus Envy among the offerings.

In an effort to keep the event fresh, organizers have arranged for an outside patio, allowing revellers to take advantage of the (hopefully) nice weather as they enjoy beverages from Treasury Wine Estates and Hockley Valley Brewery and canapés from Todric’s Fine Dining. The event will also run a little later into the evening, ending at 10pm. “We’re trying to make it a little different this year,” Schryburt says. “We’re trying to get a little bit bigger, a little flashier for sure.”