The CarePlus Foundation will hold its 19th Annual Courage Awards Gala on May 10, 2017 at the Venetian in Garfield, benefiting the clients and programs of CarePlus NJ. This year’s list of honorees includes celebrity guest Carmen Carrera for her advocacy for LGBTQ rights.
Carmen Carrera is an actress and supermodel who debuted on the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2012. Since then, Carrera has transitioned to a transgender woman, and has been using her professional career as a spotlight to advocate for the LGBTQ community.
“When I realized that Carmen was from Bergen County, I knew that I needed to find a way to get her involved with CarePlus,” explained Keri Diamond, Development Specialist at CarePlus. “I couldn’t believe it when I actually was able to connect with her through Twitter, and we were all elated when she accepted the invitation to be an honoree this year.”
Carrera visited the CarePlus headquarters in March to celebrate the five year anniversary of ALLIES (Acceptance, Life, Leadership, Identity, Education and Support), an LGBTQ wellness and support group for youth age 13 through 18.
Carmen inspired those involved in the group by openly sharing her personal experiences and advocacy work. She was eager to learn how she can use her voice to address their concerns, and was happy to stay afterwards for questions, photos and hugs.
“It’s refreshing to see someone so passionate about paying it forward,” continued Diamond. “It was amazing to watch her with the group. Her fearlessness, her honesty, and her compassion have benefited so many people, and will definitely continue to do so.”
The Courage Awards Gala celebrates those who tirelessly work on behalf of the mental health community. Proceeds fund educational scholarships, housing and medication assistance, substance abuse services, outpatient treatment and therapy for children and adults who are enrolled in Care Plus services, as well as advocacy and community education.
Registration for the Courage Awards includes a cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auctions, and a 50/50 raffle. Individual tickets are available at $175 each, with full tables of 10 offered for $1,500.