"We have had some Halloween-themed fundraising events but we did not have one last year," said Lola Thomas, executive director for the AIDS Alliance. "We considered not continuing that trend but Stonewall Manor offered us the opportunity to have one there. And we were so excited about the location because it just makes for an absolutely perfect creepy, scary setting that the more we talked about it, the excitement built and we decided we would have this there.
"It's somewhat similar to ones we've had previously but this one, we've gone all out with creepy decorations, like a haunted house appearance and features. So we've really gone all out with the decor. I'm kind of looking at it [as] it's almost like a house a witch might live in or a haunted house. We even [have] a casket and we'll have a viewing room set up with a full-size old casket that will be occupied."
Tickets for Nightmare on Stonewall will be $35 and currently are available at Periwinkle, 22 E. Church St.; Moore's Gourmet Market, 227 Fite St.; Mission Tire, 121 S. Gilmer St.; and at the AIDS Alliance office, 775 West Ave., Suite E.
The event's proceeds will help the nonprofit maintain its current level of services, some of which include transportation for clients, support groups and prevention and housing programs. Based in Cartersville, AIDS Alliance assists 110 HIV/AIDS clients, ranging in age from 14 to 70, in 10 northwest Georgia counties. Benefits like the Oct. 30 event help the AIDS Alliance in reaching its overall mission of increasing local funding -- donations and benefits -- from 7 percent to 10 percent of its total annual budget.
"The proceeds will benefit the AIDS Alliance's programs and services that aren't covered by grants," Thomas said. "Some of our funding covers certain aspects of what we do, but then there's a lot of our services that we have to raise the money to support and rely on fundraising events and donations. So this is one of those that helps some of our general programs, [which] would include transportation of clients to get to doctor's appointments in certain areas and to other critical locations -- if they need to apply for food stamps, for example, and don't have the transportation, we can provide a way to get there. So [we assist with] transportation beyond just medical appointments.
"Then it also helps us to provide food for people in dire circumstances. It allows us the ability to provide personal, one-on-one assistance to people, such as in the case we had recently of someone who died. We provide a lot of care, services, and food and personal assistance to family members, when it's needed. That is a very important thing that we do but not the type of thing that normally a grant pays for."
Since joining the organization's board of directors last year, Francoise Evans said she has become more aware of the need that exists in the community concerning HIV and AIDS patients.
"What I was most surprised by is that it's the only AIDS Alliance for northwest Georgia," Evans said. "So they cover quite some ground. So obviously there was a need.
"Charities are hurting in this economy so [with Nightmare on Stonewall] we really wanted to provide something that will help the organization but also [we] really [want to] make people aware that it will also be fun. Halloween -- it's when the veil between the living and the dead is very thin. [The event] will be very creative. There are a lot of creative people that are participating in putting this together, and it will be unusual and very creative. There will be a lot of entertaining surprises."
For more information or to reserve tickets for Nightmare on Stonewall, call the AIDS Alliance at 770-606-0953. The event's attendees need to be 21 or older.