HOUSTON—Hundreds of partygoers packed a Montrose neighborhood October 23 for the ultimate Halloween house party, all in the name of charity.
Fernando Aramburo, along with his girlfriend and business partner, Sarah Walters, threw their annual party to benefit Houston’s HIV/ AIDS community. The party was showcased in neighboring Halloween-themed Montrose homes, packed with 500 to 700 excited partygoers dressed from head to toe in the best costumes the city could boast.
The hosts, immaculately and quite attractively dressed as Shamans, rubbed elbows with costumed guests ranging from monks to the Mad Hatter. Hef and his bunnies made an appearance, as well as The King himself, Elvis. Among the more creative get-ups was an homage to Stephen King’s "Carrie" – a prom queen soaked from head to toe in pig’s blood.
To accommodate the overflow of attendees, the two joined their home with next door neighbor Randy Yost, who is another one of Aramburo’s business partners.
But this event wasn’t about the costumes, it was about the cause. For Aramburo, what started as a house party thrown for fun 13 years ago became a way to give back to the community. He is a board member with Bering Omega Community Services, a non-profit charity on a mission to help those in Houston affected with HIV/ AIDS.
Aramburo said Bering Omega serves 33 percent of Houston and Harris County’s HIV/AIDS population. The charity provides a dental clinic, the first one in the country, in addition to an end-of-life hospice and an adult day treatment program where those affected with the disease are given the education and support they need, including being taught how to properly use their medication.
Bering Omega also has programs that help prevent homelessness by providing month-to- month monetary assistance for utilities and home payments for those battling the disease.
Aramburo said he knows how expensive care for HIV/AIDS patients can be, but the charity is able to make the dollar stretch incredibly far.
"We are able to help so many people. One dollar goes so far, but not a lot of people know about us," he said.
He decided to turn a fun event that was well known in the community into a project to help the needy. The Halloween party brings in big bucks yearly.
"I have been on the board for three years, and three years ago I began making this party benefit Bering Omega," said Aramburo. "For me, it’s the most amazing house party in Houston. At the end of the day, we raise thousands of dollars. It all goes to the charity."
Aramburo said the charity provides care for anyone affected, regardless of who they are or their set of circumstances.
"We deal with indigent people, that’s who we help," Aramburo said. "Regardless of whether they are women or men, gay or straight or any type of race, when they have no place to go, Bering Omega is there for them."
By charging a small fee, Aramburo is able to provide a massive amount of fun for partygoers and a massive amount of help for his charity. For a fraction of the cost an average night out on the town commands, partygoers got more than they bargained for. The party costs $40 per person to enter, but once inside, the guests were treated to a myriad of open-bar cocktails, great music and a red carpet experience, complete with complimentary photos.
The large crowds are no nuisance to the neighborhood either; in fact, many are part of the fun. Aramburo said he goes door to door and invites each one of his neighbors in person.
"All my neighbors are always invited. I love my neighbors and I want them to participate because the party is benefiting the community, and my neighbors are part of my community," he said.
Not only do the neighbors sing his praises, but longtime friends said they are proud of the work done by the young entrepreneur.
"I have known Fernando since high school and he is good people. He has always been an entrepreneur and at the top of his game," said Robert Tupper. "Anything Fernando does is going to be top of the line."
"For me to be involved on the board of Bering Omega at such a young age, I am honored."