Partying On Purpose
Ayana Obika-Clayborne has a calming presence when she walks into a room. Maybe that comes with living her life with purpose.
“There’s no such thing as having one purpose,” she believes. “When I was younger I used to think that I wanted to work in law, then I had children and I realized that my purpose changed and I wanted to raise individuals that contribute to society. And they do. Now I realize, I have a new purpose. When we don’t evolve, it means we’re not planning to have more in life.”
She brings this philosophy to her party with a purpose for Thursday’s All Girls White Party at 2113 benefitting SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders) Central Virginia.
After making the acquaintance of friend Angela Patton, she joined the board of Camp Diva, a local non-profit that operates a camp for girls. For the past seven years, she’s been fundraising and producing special events for the organization.
Out of this love of producing events and helping others came her company Gratitude Rising Events.
“I want to eventually leave Richmond so I was reluctant starting a new business, but it wouldn’t leave me alone – the opportunity to help and serve this way kept coming,” Obika-Clayborne says.
She jokes that the desire to serve has been with her for a long time.
“I told my mother, I think I want to be a maid – she told me, ‘you can stop your education right now,’” Claiborne says. ”Then I wanted to be a nurse and my father said no. He was very old school. That’s how I ended up majoring in Political Science and working as a paralegal.”
But working in an office all day wasn’t for her. While practicing massage therapy, she began planning her first event through Gratitude Rising last year — the Reel Divas Film Festival.
While planning when everyone started saying, “yes,” she knew she was on the right path in helping small non-profits.
“They fight hard for dollars – you always see the big non-profits in the spotlight.”
As for that “All Girl” label – if it’s a hit, she hints there may be an “All Boy” benefit party in the works.
She’s already receiving stories from women touched by the type of work SAGE strives to do in the Richmond community.
“I got a message from a woman who found out about the party…” she said. ”Her mother is gay and has always been athletic and she had a stroke recently so her life just changed dramatically. Her partner’s life changed.
“Her partner became a caretaker – their relationship is not recognized yet. They’re facing loss of income and navigating the social security system – all of the things that heterosexual couples take for granted. That dignity of care – gay couples don’t have that.”
The All Girl White Party is Thursday, July 19, 6 p.m. at 2113, 2113 E. Main St., Richmond, VA. Tickets are $20 benefiting SAGE Central Virginia and can be purchased online here.
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Nemeth, a lesbian, said she sensed that the relationship between the woman and the nursing home resident was more than just friends.June 30, 2015
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