Op-Ed:  Julian Cazavaos is our Volunteer of The Year

Julian Cazavaos. Photo via Facebook

Myrna is back, and the Sanctuary will never be the same.

The prominent church on North Federal Highway was turned into a film studio last Saturday.

With the help of a choir from the Gay Mens Chorus of South Florida, the Sister Actsequel will rock the seventh annual fall production of the mystifying Reverse Quinceanera.It will be held Sept. 29. 

The Reverse Quinceanera Pageant is a comedic spoof of a Quinceanera. This year wil be a takeoff on Whoopi Goldbergs Sister Act. All of the all-volunteer efforts go to benefit Julians Fountain of Youth,a noble enterprise created by Julian Cazavaos in July of 2017 to better the lives of gay and lesbian youth.

Filming the sequences this past weekend were Louis and Andy Perrot from Lightship Media. In fact, the cast and crew surprised Andy with a birthday cake at the end of the day.

More filming for this years show will take place in Puerto Vallarta in a couple of weeks. It may be a program to benefit kids, but this is no kids production. Dozens of extras had to sit hours doing take after take while the crew got it right. Damn, I was one of them- stuck like a hot potato.

Jose Fuster, a flight attendant for Jet Blue was another. But he creatively and spontaneously came up with a solo spot that was such a good fit he had to do about a dozen takes. You can bet that is one scene that wont be left on the cutting room floor.

The cinematic adventure supports the noble undertaking of Julians Fountain of Youth Foundation. They need the bucks, because this year the foundation is going to opening its own thrift shop on Wilton Drive next month. The Fountain of Treasures,will be run by many of the young men and women the foundation supports.

JFOY was started with money raised selling tickets to the Reverse Quinceanera. All their funds comes from the community and fundraising efforts of its small but impactful group of board members.

The board includes Cazavaos, Scott Rivelli, and Terry Martinez.

Its a great cause,” Board Director Scott Rivelli said, and it is enabling many people from all walks of life to come together to advance a common good. Julian is a mover and a shaker- a game changer.”

Rivelli is also a volunteer, like everyone else who supports the 501C3 foundation. However, he had a starring role in last years production as the hot male hunk who was Myrnas heart throbbing love interest.

Julians Fountain of Youth also hosts a monthly teen meet and greet, infused with a learning component. Following his participation in experiential learning courses in 2006, Julian had made a commitment to himself that one day he would make these programs available to LGBT youth at no cost to them. He has.

JFOY creates opportunities for LGBT youth to partake in activities that include life-enrichment strategies at no cost to them or their families. There is even a week long retreat the group sponsors.

JFOY funds programs in a very joyous way. Just ask Mark Hunter, the hospitality industry entrepreneur, who volunteered again this year, cast Saturday as a very good looking nun.

Julian is a good guy,” he said, running a great program, creating a fun environment, doing spectacular things for young people. Its an honor to be part of it.”

Julian exudes a warmth and wit, a passion and principle that is second to none. How else do you fill a church on a Saturday afternoon when the rest of the planet is having cocktails, going to brunch, or watching playoff football on big screen tvs?

Another supporter taking part in the event was Maxine Jacobowitz, who runs a chapter of the Kids Can Foundation,’ kidscanhelpkids.org. Its about kids empowering kids. 

Julians Fountain of Youthis a wonderful project, a great undertaking,” she stated. We love partnering with him.” 

Some of this years programs include Julians Cruising For A Cause” in April, the Fort Lauderdale Youth Empowerment Retreat, and the One Magical Weekendin June.

Julian is a Navy veteran and small business owner who started his work in the nonprofit sector back in 1988 during the height of the AIDS epidemic. He volunteered with the first nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas to focus on the needs of the Hispanic community. 

Today he is now partnering with local and national LGBT organizations to make JFOY thrive. Cazavaos shared his enthusiasm and excitement: “JFOY is creating opportunities for LGBTQ Youth to involve themselves in programs which will result in the production of future Community leaders who will be authentic and progressive.”

Julian also once chaired the first LGBT Chamber of Commerce Counsel in the state of Florida. Called the Gay and Lesbian Business Exchange or GLBX, he served as its chair for two consecutive years. He has since chaired or served on the board of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, SunServe Citizens of the World , and The Renand Foundation.

Cardiovascular challenges Julian faced personally inspired him to want to do more for others, he told me on my radio show last month. Everything I endured yesterday has all made my life so much more meaningful today,” he said. It was a riveting interview. You can listen to it on the Norm Kent Show Youtube site.

With his spirit and vision, he has done more than overcome a measure of personal adversity. He has swept it away and magically motivated a community of adults who revere and admire him. He has infectiously inspired groups of children who grow weekly because of his efforts. He has goals still to fulfill, promises that will not be denied.

As SFGN celebrates its 10th anniversary month, hands down, and without a doubt Julian Cazavaos has earned the honor, distinction and recognition of being the named the first and inaugural winner of SFGNs Volunteer of the YearAward for the South Florida LGBT community. 

Congratulations, young man.

 


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