Joel Slotnick is usually smiling. Whether he is snapping on a VIP bracelet Sunday night at the Sea Monster or reconciling a balance sheet for the 501 (c) 3 for which he serves as Treasurer, there is the clear look upon his face of a man who enjoys his work.

Joel Slotnick’s duties as Treasurer of Pride South Florida this year have tempered that smile with caution. He has been placed in the role of ‘bean-counter’ knowing that his predecessor, Mike Cruz, a long time close friend, may soon be arrested for stealing close to $50,000 of last year’s Pridefest funds. Cruz, as reported in SFGN two weeks ago, is the target of a Fort Lauderdale Police Economic Crimes Division investigation.

The alleged theft has made Slotnick more determined today to “give back. You have to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

“I first became active in Pride South Florida in the early ’90s,” he recalls. “[The late] Lee McCall and his partner David Newell got me involved. I was the Treasurer for the first time back in 1992.”

But whether working as unit manager for Bank of America’s regional cash vault, which he did for many years, or as the Pastoral Care Associate for Sunshine Cathedral MCC, the love of service is what fuels his fire.

After 30 years in the banking industry, Slotnick is today a digital court reporter for the State of Florida, a job he says that he “absolutely loves.”

On a more personal level, Slotnick, raised as a Jew, has now become a member of Metropolitan Community Church. “I think there were more people shocked when I converted than when I came out,” he laughs.

Now having been ordained a deacon in the Christian denomination, it was in his capacity as a clergyman that he first learned of troubles within the Pride South Florida organization.

“I came back to the Pride Board last June,” he recalls. “Not long after, I learned that Mike was in the hospital.”

“Mike” was Mike Cruz, director and Board member of Pride, who had filled the leadership vacuum created by the death of the group’s president, Eleanor Shaw. Cruz himself, after being confronted by board members of his alleged theft, wound up in the hospital the victim of an apparent suicide attempt – which may have involved an overdose of over-the-counter medications.

Of Cruz and his possible involvement in the alleged missing funds, Slotnick would only offer that “as you get older, you learn that nothing anyone does is impossible. Working in the court system has shown me that.”

The show, and PrideFest, must go on, and Slotnick think it’s important for the community to know what the event is really about.

“We want the community to understand how hard a lot of people have worked to make this event just happen.”

“The money that we put back into the community is what fuels a lot of worthy causes,” he says. “We are making money to give back to our community, and we hope they realize that.”

Among the grants awarded by the organization last year were money to Tuesday’s Angels to provide eyeglasses to financially-struggling persons will HIV and AIDS, funds for Sunshine Cathedral/MCC for upgrades to its facilities, and a grant to the Church of the Holy Spirit Song to benefit its food pantry.

Slotnick understands that people coming to PrideFest are coming to enjoy themselves but that “it takes a lot of money to put on a great show like this,” he is quick to remind, ever aware of the bottom line.

When it’s all said and done, though, he knows the real meaning of PrideFest. “You’ve got to give back. If I think things need to change, I have to become the change I believe is needed,” he says, counting his blessings along with his spread sheets.