RALEIGH, N.C. — The Raleigh LGBT Center is holding its 2019 Fall Achievement Benefit on Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m., at CAM Raleigh, 409 W. Martin St.

The wear-what-you-want annual event allows the center to acknowledge publicly those individuals who have given of themselves to the community.

Attendees will be able to enjoy beverages and dessert provided by Indulge Catering while viewing the newest exhibits at the venue featuring Rosana Castrillo Diaz, Gonzalo Puch, Marisol D’Estrabeau, and ¡Viva Viclas! The Art of the Lowrider Motorcycle.

This year’s award recipients are: Distinguished Service Award, Les Geller; Community Impact Award, Natalie Watson; Volunteer of the Year, Lisa Tobey; Ally of the Year, Kristen Cooper; Organization of the Year, Stonewall Sports; and Rising Star Award, Raleigh Pride.

Geller has been a fixture at the center since it’s inception when he helped found it in 2010. He has held the positions of board member, treasurer and space designer (for the properties on Cabarrus, Hillsborough and Harrington Sts.), as well as being a co-founder of the Gay and Gray seniors group which is now a SAGE affiliate. His passion in seeing that seniors have a voice has been at the core of his work at the center. When not at the center, Geller’s focus is on affordable housing for LGBTQ seniors.

Through Watson’s efforts as the center’s volunteer coordinator, they ensure that shifts are covered throughout the center along with acting as a chaperone for ASPYRE Youth Leadership Camp, as well as spending time working with Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer (QORDS) summer camp and being a board member at the LGBTQ Center of Durham. Watson identifies as non-binary trans masculine.

Tobey has served for the past two years as Out! Raleigh’s lead volunteer. Center organizers said that she was always willing to “jump in” and provide her time to serving others. “Lisa is one of the most kindhearted, generous, and hardworking volunteers we have had. Not only has she completed hundreds of hours as a regular volunteer, but she’s also stepped up to help with just about every event and special project we’ve had. Her willingness to lend a hand to a fellow community member truly shows how remarkable of a person she is,” said Kori Hennessey, the center’s director of education and programs.

As North Carolina’s First Lady, Cooper expressed her excitement about the future for the LGBTQ+ community as it continues to move forward and see even greater progress with LGBTQ social justice issues during and after 2020. Gov. Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper hosted the first-ever Pride event within the Executive Mansion this past June and she eagerly looks forward to future such events hosted in The People’s House.

Stonewall Sports began in 2013 and has provided the Triangle with an option for those who wanted to get together and engage in a variety of sporting opportunities. It now has over 2,000 individuals playing engaging in nine sports leagues. The organization helps to increase awareness of the LGBTQ community through participation in tournaments, the “Gayborhood Project” mural creation, City of Raleigh’s first LGBTQ Trolley Tour, as well as benefiting charities such as Cause for Paws, the Alliance of AIDS-Services and the center.

Raleigh Pride was created to fill the void when NC Pride ceased operation. Its organizers, Trey Roberts, Josh Lamm and Roxanne Lundy, spearheaded a Raleigh Pride parade and have helped to raise funds for the center. They continue to showcase the LGBTQ community through their efforts.

For the first time, the center is offering a $50 student/senior/scholarship ticket price, as well as a $75 Couch FAB option. With it, participants get to stay home on their sofa in their “jammies” and watch television. Then they can join the event on Facebook Live for the awards ceremony, organizers shared. Regular tickets are $125. To purchase, visit bit.ly/2NLEdfW.

The center is located at 119 E. Hargett St. and is open Monday-Thursday, 12-8 p.m., Friday, 12-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 12-6 p.m. HIV/STD testing is available on Monday and Thursday from 6-8:30 p.m.

info: bit.ly/2O4dKui.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.