‘Community Wins!’ With dream of Fantasy Fest over this year

AH tries to improve upon the immediate reality


It doesn’t take a great visionary to determine that Monroe County has bigger problems right now than canceled parties and festivals.

Except that many Key Westers rely on events like Fantasy Fest, in one way or another, to pay the bills, and that includes landlords and banks who hold their mortgages.

That’s why one component of Fantasy Fest – the Royal King and Queen Campaign, and its founder, A.H. of Monroe County — has evolved for 2020.

Beginning on Aug. 21, traditionally the Royal Kick-Off, the Keys’ provider of services to those living with HIV/AIDS, AH will roll out “Community Wins!”, a campaign to raise desperately-needed dollars exclusively for housing need. Events and donations will continue through Oct. 16th (the traditional date of the Royal Coronation and official kick-off to Fantasy Fest).

“Seeing firsthand our community’s financial challenges forced us to re-think our 8-week fundraiser,” according to Scott Pridgen, Executive Director of AH.  “We could all use some good news right now so, rather than strictly focus on our own Agency’s Mission, it represents a unique opportunity to care for our own. So, we’ve decided to partner with the Sister Season Fund, Samuel’s House, and the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, to raise money to help people keep a roof over their heads.”

Keeping a wary eye on the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the events will be virtual, and those staged at venues will carefully adhere to local mask and social distancing regulations.

To manage this, AH has a fifth ally on the project: the oversight and support of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys (CFFK), brainstormed by President/CEO Jennifer McComb.

This alliance, which Pridgen declared “is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”, brings aboard CFFK’s sterling reputation as a philanthropic leader in the Keys. CFFK will monitor, provide updates and disburse all funds collected equally at the Initiative’s end to the 4 Agencies. To ensure the integrity of the project, all funds gathered at each event, whether it’s at a venue or virtual, will be specifically made out to Community Wins.

“CFFK will also be providing a financial match to the first $10,000 raised, so we’re off to a promising start before we’ve even started, “Pridgen said.

A unique page for those wishing to donate but unable or unwilling to physically attend events can already be accessed at www.CFFK.org/CommunityWins

Donations can also be made at www.fantasyfest.com

One nod to tradition means past and president Royalty will be involved, with a twist, Pridgen emphasized.

A calendar of events will soon be available via each Agency’s website and social media, in addition to a site uniquely dedicated to the initiative, www.Community-Wins.org.

“This year, there are no rules. That also means there’s no crown or title being bestowed, but it will conclude with some kind of celebration, still being planned,” Pridgen stated. “This year, the crown goes to you. Our Community Wins!”