The Albany Society for Advancement of Philanthropy

speedo santas

It's all about giving back.

By Jessica Pasko

Speedo-clad Santas and festivals of meat don't exactly conjure up typical philanthropic ventures. Then again, the members Albany Society for Advancement of Philanthropy aren't exactly your typical philanthropists.

Founder Jasen VonGuinness says ASAP is more about using unconventional ways to raise money and awareness, like the recent Santa Speedo Sprint which raised money for the Damien Center.

Jasen says that unlike many other philanthropic groups, ASAP's motto is "relax and encourage."

"Rather than taking a systematic approach to fund raising, we try to get as many people motivated in unconventional ways to raise money and awareness, " says Jasen. He says this is probably best illustrated by the speedo sprint, which is one of their larger events.

The group started out as eight old friends from Kinderhook who were all living in Albany for various reasons. Jasen says he and a couple of friends were at a local bar in summer 2004 when they started talking about joining the Elks Club or the Knights of Columbus because they were looking for a more formal avenue to catch up with the guys over a few scotches. But those organizations didn't quite seem to be what they were looking for, so they decided to branch out on their own. A few weeks later, ASAP was born in Jasen' living room.

From there, the group just sort of grew to include a diverse group of about 50 of what Jasen calls "the finest men in the Albany area."

Jasen agrees that a lot of people imagine philanthropists as a bunch of old, rich socialites and he's hoping ASAP can help change that perception. After all, he says, "Big bank rolls and tax write-offs don't make philanthropists; bigger hearts and compassion do."

While the speedo sprint is their cornerstone event, ASAP also puts on an annual spring cruise on the Hudson and hold a fall "meatfest" anniversary (what's more manly than that?). They sponsor a little league team each year, award an annual scholarship to a student attending an Albany college and also work with local organizations like Habitat for Humanity

Next up, Jasen says they plan to get a Northampton, Massachusetts chapter organized and start up dodge ball bouts at the Washington Avenue Armory.

Comments

Glad to see some coverage of ASAP. It's a great group, a ton of fun.

They do look like a fun group, but I have a question: why is their membership all male?

I'd like to second Simone's question regarding their membership. It looks like a fun and creative group but why no girls? Their membership page looks like the "He-man Woman Haters Club" from the Little Rascals.

@Simone and Emma -
I was told that ASAP isn't anti-woman; it just sort of wound up being all men. Attempts to start up a women's chapter have so far been unsuccessful due to lack of interest, but they're hoping to still get it going.

Not to play devil's advocate here, but there ARE also a lot of local women's groups that one might ask the same question of. And I mention this as someone who proudly waves her feminist flag.

ASAP is all-male for the same reason a sorority is all female or certain gyms only allow women. Their is safety and security in familiarity and brotherhood/sisterhood. It's not sexist or discriminatory. It's human nature. There are plenty of all-female philanthropic organizations in existence such as Women's League, Alliance of Women Philanthropists, etc. ASAP has some great things in the works for females, specifically a jazz fest called "blues for boobs" which raises money for breast cancer; Hopefully an event to support domestic violence prevention and support groups. Single gender organizations get a bad reputation because if they are not structured correctly and certain male/female traits are not channelled healthfully, they can be very destructive. These guys are socially conscious, disciplined, responsible and compassionate. I think the single gender aspect of the club is a moot point.

A bunch of our events are all inclusive. Our Annual Spring fling is a friends and family boat cruise and our Fall Ball is definitely geared for all to get fancied up. Oh, and what man or woman doesn't love meat? Our annual Meatfest is always an awesome party (more women attended than men this year). Also when we helped out with Habitat for Humanity the group was a mixed bunch. My wife is very supportive of ASAP and likes to meet us out after the boring meeting where she is more than happy to give us her take on our ideas and input her own creativity. If anyone has any questions about ASAP or wants to help out at our next event, please email me at albanysociety@gmail.com

Alex Dalis
Board of Directors
President

The Santa Speedo race was so fun! Everyone from ASAP was so nice and welcoming. That and people took the time to thank everyone who participated. I can't wait for next year!!!! what a positive/fun way to raise money for an awesome cause!

ASAP rocks!!! Its great to see a group of young professionals give back to the community in such innovative ways. Looking forward to your 2009 events! Keep up the good work guys!

said Charity Von G on Jan 16, 2009 at 10:22 AM

These guys are socially conscious, disciplined, responsible and compassionate

said Alex Dalis (President) on Jan 16, 2009 at 11:10 AM
Oh, and what man or woman doesn't love meat? Our annual Meatfest is always an awesome party

Actually, eating meat is neither social conscious or compassionate. And there are LOTS of people (male and female) who don't love meat. Just sayin'

No matter what an organization or individual does, someone will be offended. We all go into any situation with biases and preconceived judgements. Vegetarians will complain in regards to the meat fest, heterosexuals will complain about ASAP giving too much money to homosexual organizations...etc, etc. What makes ASAP socially conscious is that no matter what fund raiser they organize and implement, ALL the proceeds go to bettering the community, other charity organizations, youth sponsorships, etc. Being nit picky about the simple act of giving is what has gotten this country to the stand-still entitlement-oriented, ungrateful, tax-write-off, discompassionate state that it's in. Do we really have to start dissenting and picking apart people who are trying to do good and don't feel like the world owes them something?

Well I guess some people don't like meat or meat eaters. But that's ok. I think most people would agree that it's part of life, and I know the folks at the City Mission have never said no to our leftovers. Vegetarians and people who answer rhetorical questions are welcome in ASAP, we have both. We could start Tofu-fest?

to-fu fest? Dalis, have you been drinking? And we all know that Meatfest has been scrapped for a super secret (as of now) new festival in Albany in the fall.

Dodgeball bouts huh? looks like the roller derby gals have rubbed off on y'all.... :)
AASRD hearts ASAP!

Meatfest will be Oct 3rd this year, 6pm at the Elks.
Dodgeball starts Sept 24th at the Armory, 8:30.
Oktoberfest details to be released soon.
Fall Ball Formal Nov 14th at DeJohns.
Speedo Sprint Dec 12th on Lark.

Just trying to keep the ALB F-U-N.

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