$142,063.46. That’s how much money Compass received from last year’s SMART Ride. It’s a big number and a budget shortfall that won’t be easily made up.
As the main resource for the LGBTQ community in Palm Beach County, Compass programs range from HIV/AIDS testing, treatment, and prevention, a strong youth program, mental health services and more. In a time when all nonprofits face fundraising challenges, Compass’ challenge is made that much bigger.
Compass CEO Julie Seaver put the impact in perspective.
“SMART Ride funds have paid for extended emergency housing and new apartment rental deposits, beds and mattresses, life-saving surgeries and hospital stays, transportation assistance, holiday food pantry, hearing aids, emergency home repairs, utility bills, medical supplies, recovery programs and so much more.”
OutSFL was first to break the news that The SMART Ride (SR) will end after this year. The news caught the community, and Seaver, by surprise.
“[SR founder] Glen [Weinzimer] and the SMART Ride board hosted the annual executive meeting with all the benefiting agency executives to let us know of their decision. While it did come as a surprise, my sadness grew to a sense of accomplishment and pride.”
Weinzimer and Executive Director Todd Delmay say the SR has changed the landscape of HIV services in Florida. One reason they feel comfortable ending the ride now is because they believe the SR has helped benefitting agencies become better known in their communities and can fundraise on their own.
“I agree with Glen, we all have the capacity to sustain or increase our events. We absolutely intend to carry the spirit of The SMART Ride with us in continuing our fundraising efforts to help those in need,” Seaver said. “The saying goes, ‘When one door closes, another one opens,’ and I think that's true for the SMART Ride journey as well. It has opened many doors for me as an individual, for our clients, and for us as an agency in unifying us all to rally around one cause.”
For now, Compass is focusing on the last Ride in November. SR, which has raised about a million dollars a year for the past few rides, is trying to double that this year and give beneficiaries more breathing room. Seaver says she just started training for the 165-mile ride from Miami to Key West, and is “kind of hurting.” But it will all be worth it when they ride into Key West one last time.
“I think many of us will appreciate each mile of this last ride a little more this year. And the hugging, there will be lots more hugging!”