Partying since 1989


This week I had lunch with Lew Aldridge, founder of The Octopus Club. Over plates of pad thai and pad puk at a sunny table, we talked about the organization’s milestones.

They’re well worth talking about. Founded in 1989, the all-volunteer organization is the grassroots fundraising arm of AIDS Services of Austin. The funds The Octopus Club raises, through annual events and parties, go to the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund. That fund provides emergency financial assistance to those living with HIV and AIDS in Central Texas, and are distributed to individuals for basic living needs through AIDS Services of Austin on a case-by-case basis.

This year The Octopus Club is poised to raise its $2 millionth (over its 24 years), all through volunteers – that means no overhead, no employees and no expenses. Equally impressive, the organization raised $185,000 this year, an almost 11 percent jump from money raised the previous year. The organization used social media to market its events and fundraising efforts, and sent no mailers out at all.

Here’s the breakdown of how funds raised in 2011 were spent (via The Octopus Club website):

1194 people received food assistance
109 people received help with security deposits to move into an apartment or rent money to avoid eviction
75 people received money to make payments of past due water, electric, and gas bill so that their utilities were not turned off
57 people received money to buy life-saving medications
53 people received money for eye care or eye glasses

Interested in helping The Octopus Club raise money? Visit their website for more information. Anything from backyard barbecues to no-holds-barred parties help out.