Gold Circle Donors

Ben Garcia and Whitney Davis at Art for AIDS 2014

At Art for AIDS, it doesn’t take much to find out why some guests are wearing gold circles on their lapels. Ask any of them, and they’ll beam: “We are guests of Whitney Davis and Benny Garcia.” If you thought FOB was a hot moniker, check out FOW+B!

Joyful and generous, Benny’s motto is “Be happy and help others.” In contrast, Whitney appears, the more serious of the two, but what Benny conveys through cheer, Whitney transmits through charm and attentiveness. Together for 21 years, their love and admiration for one another is palpable. And as a couple, they have donated over $120,000 to the Alliance Health Project by sponsoring Art for AIDS.

When Benny’s partner, Andrew Foxwell, tragically died of AIDS in 1993, Benny knew he had to do something to honor Andrew’s life. When he learned about Art for AIDS, he knew he’d found exactly the right cause: Andrew, one of the owners of Ivy’s Restaurant, was an avid art collector and philanthropist.

Neither Benny, still in mourning, nor Whitney, just over a seven-year relationship, were looking to date at the time they met. But an initial chance meeting at a bar—remember, cheer meets charm!—grew into a fast friendship and, soon after, a romance. On their 20th anniversary, trying to decide how to celebrate in a special way, they took the plunge and got married under the rotunda of City Hall.

On the surface, it looks as if Whitney is all business and Benny all play, but Benny has devoted his professional career to non-profits for over 35 years, trading the profits of corporate world for the benefits of being of service and doing good. Whitney, got into real estate after a close friend asked him “why aren’t you in real estate?” Both Whitney’s mom and grandfather are in the business. That question became some of what Whitney claims to be the best advice he ever received. And his “no A-hole” policy” explains why he remains friends with every one of his clients. You don’t have to talk to either one of them for long before you learn how much they love what they do.

Art for AIDS is only one vehicle for Benny and Whitney’s generosity. They also host two annual nights out at Basil Canteen, with cocktails and dinner included and a monthly happy hour where the drinks are, invariably, on them. In addition, they contribute generously to many other non-profits, like ArtSpan and AIDS LifeCylcle.

When asked why they choose AHP, Benny said, “(Dr) Jim Dilley was a friend of Andrew’s. And we really like that the event is not somber.” Instead, it’s “just a really exciting celebration that supports HIV/AIDS services.” Whitney added, “We feel like we are making a real difference, and are happy to bring attention to the fact that HIV/AIDS is still a real issue in the lives of our community members.”

Donors like Whitney and Benny, who take us into their family—buying art, bringing friends, donating money—are what keep AHP strong and healthy. Cheer and charm, business and play: Garcia and Davis deliver themselves to their friends, which after 21 years has fortunately included AHP, as a package, a dynamic duo of loyalty, kindness, generosity, and support. That’s why, it seems, their guests wear those gold circles as a badge of pride. Thank you both!