Here are SFGN's "Best of 2016" winners in the other category in Broward County.
Best Sports League
South Florida Amateur Athletic Association (SFAAA)
For almost a quarter of a century, the South Florida Amateur Athletic Association has offered LGBT people a place to meet and play outside the culture’s traditional nightlife norms.
“Over the years, we've gone from bartenders and barbacks playing ball, to professionals and families gathering at the fields ... along with bartenders and barbacks. It's now common to have your wife or husband at the field, along with your child. That was unheard of two decades ago,” said Tim Martin, Chairperson of the SFAAA.
The SFAAA’s crown jewel is the annual Hurricane Showdown, a three-day softball tournament held over Thanksgiving weekend that draws thousands to the greater Fort Lauderdale area. The SFAAA categorizes its team by three divisions – B, C, and D. The league’s success, Martin says, is two-fold.
“It’s the camaraderie and the competition,” Martin said. “On the field, we are competitive and want to beat each other and take no prisoners. Off the field, we are friends who eat and drink together. Every Sunday, a different sponsor hosts an after-party. Teams gather to discuss the day's action, and maybe find someone to take home. Hey, it's that kind of a league.”
Best Sports Team
Through athletic competition, one team is proving recovery doesn’t have to be a sad story.
Meet the Broward Ballbusters, a group of recovering addicts and alcoholics who are putting their lives back together with the help of the softball diamond.
“I think a lot of people can’t picture a life with sobriety being any fun,” said Michael Moody, Broward Ballbusters manager and founder. “Well, we’re certainly proving that this is fun.
The co-ed team plays games on Sundays at Mills Pond Park and has attracted a strong fan base. This year the Ballbusters were voted best sports team by readers of the SFGN.
“People look at us and are like: ‘What?! How do you do softball without beer?’,” Moody said.
But they do and have for 10 years now. Moody says the team is a very big part of the recovery community and welcomes more than 250 people for its annual spaghetti dinner and variety show in January.
“In the beginning we were this weird group who people asked what were we doing here,” Moody said. “Now we are a vital part of the softball league. We’ve been able to show that people can change their lives.”
Best Non Profit
The Pride Center at Equality Park
2040 North Dixie Highway
Some things get better with age. And the Pride Center is one such place. This is the fourth year in a row Pride Center has won the SFGN award for Best Non-Profit. The year before that they won the now discontinued category of Best Community Center.
For over two decades, the Pride Center “has provided a warm, welcoming and safe space for the LGBTQ community” and to our friends. Open seven days a week, the Pride Center provides our community with free HIV testing and condom distribution, as well as recovery groups and support groups for youth, seniors, women, transgender people and others.
Its monthly Flea Market and Bingo are major social as well as fundraising events. The Pride Center provides a home to such organizations as the Church of the Holy SpiritSong and Congregation Etz Chaim while other groups, like the Dolphin Democrats and the Prime Timers, use the Center as a venue for their meetings and events.
Recently the Pride Center joined forces with Carrfour Supportive Housing, a Miami-based non-profit organization, to develop low-income housing for LGBT seniors. This partnership will also provide residents access to healthcare navigation, support groups, recreational activities, and other community services.
Best HIV Non-Profit and Fundraising Event
The Smart Ride
The Smart Ride is a newcomer to SFGN’s Best Of contest. This year they’ve won two awards for Best HIV Non-Profit and Fundraising Event.
“We are elated, imagine getting nominated for one category, let alone two categories and then winning both? That is not only amazing and humbling but so timely as a way to recognize all of our community that deserves the recognition for supporting SMART Ride for 13 years,” said Glen Weinzimer, founder of the ride. “Our community and the entire state of Florida has embraced SMART Ride and I believe it is because we empower people and try our best to make sure the ride remains their event. When you think about it, riders train for months so they can ride 165 miles from Miami to Key West, they raise at least $1,250 each, that’s pretty remarkable.”
The annual two-day 165-mile ride raises a whole lot of money for local non-profits. The ride has raised more than $7.3 million since 2003 with $985,373 being raised last year alone.
Visit TheSmartRide.org for more information.
Best Spiritual Center
1480 SW 9th Avenue
Sunshine Cathedral MCC describes itself as a different kind of church where the past is the past and the future has infinite possibilities. Attendees describe it as ‘a wonderful, welcoming community.’ What’s clear to many people is whatever your beliefs, gender identity or sexual orientation, you will be inspired and uplifted at Sunshine Cathedral MCC.
Sunday worship services are at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The Cathedral Choir and Orchestra provide inspiring music for this powerful and moving worship experience. But the other work of the church happens seven days a week. Sunshine Cathedral hosts community events including concerts, movie nights, game nights, covenant groups, support groups, religious education classes and worship services. For individuals, there are hospital and home visits, spiritual direction, and prayer. Social services include 12 step groups and a senior day center.
Sunshine Cathedral aims to build a nurturing community and supportive community, while letting individuals simply be themselves. The church celebrates the innate goodness within us all. Amen.