The Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County raised nearly $30,000 during its Little Black Dress Initiative last week to support the mission of the Good News Clinics, which provides free medical and dental services to qualifying low-income individuals and families.
“We are really pumped to be the beneficiary this year,” said Liz Coates, community engagement director for the Clinics. “Every dollar that goes to Good News Clinics produces $16 or more of medical services or dental services. We’re so excited for our patients and what that’s going to mean for them.”
Better still, 2018 marks the first year of a two-year sponsorship the Junior League will provide the Clinics. So it’s possible that dollar amount could double by this time next March.
According to the organization’s website, “For the past two years, the Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County has joined all Junior Leagues of Georgia to participate in the Little Black Dress Initiative to shed light on the existence of generational poverty and its effects on women and children that face limited choices every day. The LBDI involves league members wearing one black dress for five days to illustrate the effects poverty can have on a woman’s access to resources, confidence and opportunities.”
Members also wear a pin that reads “Ask Me about the Dress” to spark conversation and spread awareness about the initiative and its objectives. Each member was given a dedicated webpage to raise money directly for the initiative.
Habitat for Humanity was the recipient of the Junior League’s LBDI for 2016 and 2017, with more than $25,000 raised during that stretch.
Good News Clinics benefited from a record haul this year thanks to the support of local businesses.
“In my opinion, it’s because we’ve had greater participation,” said Blythe Nicholson, 2018 chair of the fundraiser and a physical therapist in Gainesville. “We reached out for greater community support. I’ve met so many people, made so many connections and been a part of so many great things in the community.”
For example, Left Nut Brewing in Gainesville opened its tap room last Friday and donated 20 percent of all proceeds from alcohol sales to the cause.
“I think it’s an important event … what it all represents,” said LNB founder Pap Datta.
Datta said the brewery has hosted and supported other fundraisers, and that doing so serves the mission he set out to accomplish when he opened the brewery in 2015.
“For us to be able to provide our venue as a means and a vehicle for doing these things that have huge collateral benefits … that’s why we’re a community brewery,” Datta added. “That means a hell of a lot to us.”
Dress Up, a boutique clothing store located on the downtown square, also donated a portion of its sales from one day last week.
And Porch Sense Candle Co., based in Gainesville, created a special candle for the LBDI, donating 50 percent of sales from each candle sold to the fundraiser.
And the Junior League pitched in $10,000 of its own.
“We really feel the love and support,” Coates said.