GRAAHI Gala Raises Awareness and Funds for Health Equity

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by Allison Arnold | photo courtesy of graahi

The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI) is gearing up for its sixth annual gala on June 20 at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. “Color Our World With Health Equity” is the theme for the event, which celebrates individuals who are making a difference in health equity in the Grand Rapids community. The title sponsor for the evening is Ford Motor Company.

GRAAHI was established in 2002 in order to address growing research indicating health care disparities for African Americans. The organization promotes health equity in the African American community through its four pillars: community, advocacy, research and education.

According to GRAAHI, health equity means everyone having fair opportunity to become healthier, which can be difficult without access to steady employment, good schools and stable living conditions. 

“Health equity is basically, color the world completely so that everyone has equal access to services that are available or to an affordable lifestyle, or everyone’s entitled to insurance — an equal playing field for everyone,” Stephanie Pierce, Director of Community Engagement at GRAAHI, said.

As the premier fundraiser for the organization, the 2018 GRAAHI Gala raised around $50,000 to go toward programming. Attendees can choose to donate to specific GRAAHI initiatives such as Real Women Real Change, which focuses on healthy eating and physical activity for women, the Diabetes Empowerment Network, which offers health education and cooking classes for black men, and Strong Fathers, which offers support and resources for men with young children. GRAAHI also works with seniors to promote healthy lifestyles, in addition to holding a number of community partnerships.

Proceeds from the GRAAHI Gala 2019 will go toward supporting these programs and the organization’s mission to decrease health disparities in the African American community.  Additionally, the event will honor couples who have been dedicated to social justice and supportive of GRAAHI’s work.

“We always try to honor trailblazers in health and equity and people who have made an impact in the community to improve the lives of others,” Pierce expressed. 

Those being honored include Jim and Kathy Hackett, Bill and India Manns, and Nathaniel and Laura Moody. 

Guests will enjoy local entertainment (to be announced) in addition to dancing, cocktails and a gourmet meal. The event is colorful black tie, and with the theme, organizers hope to see attendees in vibrant dresses and bow ties.

To purchase tickets, visit graahi.com.


Allison Arnold is a freelance writer and avid adventurer who loves hiking, traveling and trying new foods. She loves writing about food and culture on her blog, For the Love of Tacos.

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