Lambda Ball to showcase scholarship winner

For the first time since creating a scholarship fund in 1991, the Lambda Foundation has granted its academic scholarship award to a graduate student. The award will be presented at the 11th annual Lambda Ball Nov. 21.

In previous years, the Lambda Foundation awarded a single scholarship of $3,000 per academic year to an undergraduate student selected for the positive contribution he or she made toward integrating gay, lesbian and bisexual people, culture or organizations into the college or university community.

This year the foundation increased the amount of the award to $4,000 and planned to grant one $2,000 scholarship to an undergraduate and another $2,000 scholarship to a graduate student. But, after reviewing applications it received, the foundation decided to award only one scholarship.

“We did not have two recipients this year as planned because the applicants were not of the high caliber that they have been in the past,” Lambda Ball Chair Bill Miller told Out. As a result, Miller said, the foundation decided to retain the $3,000 scholarship award for this year.

That award will go to Manuel Hernandez, a member of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine class of 2000.

“Mr. Hernandez has been visible and vocal in pushing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues to the forefront in student activism,” said the Rev. J. Howard Cherry, chair of the Lambda Foundation Scholarship Committee.

“The pressures of being a medical student are demanding enough, yet he has demonstrated great leadership in many areas. He has been an active agent for change within the School of Medicine, and his work with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual People in Medicine Task Force is particularly impressive. There is no question that he is deserving of the scholarship,” Cherry added.

Hernandez plans to pursue academic emergency medicine with a focus on health policy issues that impact gay men and lesbian in an emergency room setting.

The Lambda Ball is a primary fund-raiser for the Lambda Foundation, a charitable, nonprofit organization that raises and manages funds to benefit the gay and lesbian community. The foundation uses the annual ball to showcase the scholarship fund and winner.

According to Miller, last year’s Lambda Ball was the most successful ever, generating more than $15,000 for community projects, including the Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the Pittsburgh Healing Weekend.

Funds raised by the Lambda Ball go into a general operating fund and become part of the foundation’s total income for the year. The foundation takes the total annual income generated from fund-raisers, donations and investments and distributes about half through grants awarded the following year. The other half is invested in a portfolio of stocks and mutual funds.

Since it was established in 1983, the Lambda Foundation has raised more than $675,000 and granted more than $350,000 to lesbian- and gay-positive projects throughout the tri-state area. In 1977, grants totaled $18,483, according to Bill Nist, Lambda treasurer. 

“The Lambda Foundation continues to be a very reliable and dependable source of funds,” Miller said. “And the Lambda Ball continues to play a big part in our success.”

This year’s event will be held Nov. 21 at the Grand Hall of the Priory, 614 Pressley St. on the North Side, from 7pm to midnight. WYEP-FM radio personality and program director Rosemary Welsch will host the evening’s program and local disc jockey Kelli Burns will provide music for dancing.

Benefactor tickets are $85 and include dinner priority seating and recognition in the ball program. Tickets for general dinner seating and dancing are $65. Tickets for admission after 9pm for dancing only are available to students and other guests for $20.

Miller said the foundation expects ball tickets to sell out, based on early positive response and last year’s success.

Reservations can be made by calling the Lambda Foundation at (412) 521-5444