A Celebration of Friends, Inc. mission is to provide warm, comfortable, safe and engaging gatherings recognizing and promoting self-worth, dignity, kindness and friendships of and within our senior population. To that end, we strive not only to host celebrations of our seniors, but family type reunions of our friends and brothers through supportive connections within our nationwide and international scope.
Over the past 15 years A Celebration of Friends has donated over $210,000 to local charities. We are an all-volunteer organization receiving no federal funding or grants.
Tom (Tomcat) Pence
Founder and President of A Celebration Of Friends, Inc.
A Celebration of Friends, Inc. was founded by Tom Pence, a former U.S. Marine, who realized early on that "Maturity Matters" in this youth-oriented gay world and that there was a need for seniors to be celebrated.
Operating on a tight budget, the first Celebration was held in 2002 in New Orleans, LA. The next fifteen years, Tomcat moved ACOF to yearly Celebrations in Central and South Florida and has had many distinguished guests such as actor Ed Asner and former U.S, Congressman Barney Frank and husband Jim Ready.
In October 2011, the ACOF and Tomcat was acknowledged by Tuesday's Angels for giving over $100,000 to Fort Lauderdale area charities.
Over the past 14 years, more than 5,000 men have participated in these annual Family reunions and over $200,000 in charitable donations has been raised.
Tomcat’s unquenchable spirit and dedication has maintained the Celebration’s credo “We’re all in this together!!! And together, we Can Make A Difference!!!”
Born in Cuba, Alain came to this country when he was ten years old.
Upon graduation from high school, Alain enlisted in the Marine Corps to travel the world. And travel he did, spending the next twenty-five years visiting the Pacific Rim, Kenya, Jordan, Somalia, China and Australia before retiring as a Master Sergeant.
Alain is currently working for one of Florida’s local City police Departments in the data entry field. He believes in the ACOF and the need for the A Celebration of Friends so deeply, he gladly volunteered to be on the Board and is one of its hardest working members. His innocence and shyness is something not often seen in a gay environment.
Alain would love to hear from you.
William (Bill) Hagel
ACOF Board Member
Bill is a proud veteran who served in the U.S. Navy from 1968-1972. After losing his Celebration Virginity in July of 2017, He was so inspired with the mission of the ACOF that he ran for office and became a member of the Board. He worked for 31 years at AT&T as the Travel Manager providing services for over 300,000 employees. After leaving AT&T, Bill spent time as VP of Finance and Human Resources for Med-Jet. He finished up by returning to the corporate travel industry as VP of Sales and Customer Service for Gem Limousine Worldwide. After retiring, he moved from NJ to Delaware where he currently resides.
Bill was in a domestic partnership with the love of his life, Joe, for 37 years. Joe passed in 2013 leaving many wonderful memories.
Stewart “Stew” Pepper
Stew and his husband of 18 years “Auggie” moved to South Florida in March of 2010 from Phoenix, AZ. and quickly assimilated into the community. “We love it here and truly enjoy being a part of South Florida." Stew and Auggie operate along with James Basmajian “Rainbow Services” providing elder care and many other services to the community. Rainbow Services is also a Travel Agency and provides travel and cruise assistance to all.
"We love that ACOF is here for seniors and their admirers by providing a safe place to meet and socialize, giving folks the opportunity to convene twice each year for comradery, fellowship and fun is wonderful for all. Plus, for the guys in the Fort Lauderdale area, we can gather several Saturday mornings each month for The Klassic Coffee Klatch at Skolnick Community Center in Palm Aire.
Stew is also a board member of the Fort Lauderdale Prime Time Gentlemen.
Please feel free to contact any of us on the board with and questions or suggestions, we value your input!
Hugs to all…Stew & Auggie
A: NO. While we all believe our family is important and you may have a really great family, not everyone at the celebration will feel comfortable with your family around. The A Celebration of Friends weekend is designed as a social outlet for the mature man and his admirers. It is a social adult weekend for males over the age of twenty-one. Sorry, women and children are not allowed.
A: Whether you realize it or not, wearing the name badge and wrist band is for your own protection.
Wearing a name badge is just common courtesy so people who don't know you well will be able to identify you and re-identify you. It also makes it easy for hotel staff to identify you as being part of this group, so they can police outsiders and protect their guests.
A: Whether you realize it or not, wearing the wrist band is for your own protection.
Wearing the ACOF wrist bands are important for several reasons:
- It allows the ACOF and Hotel staff to know that you are part of the Celebration and have a right to be on the hotel grounds. Contrary to the thoughts of many, the hotel is not a public place where anyone may enter and participate. It is a private business open to the public, leaving access and control to the proprietor. Without the wristband, anyone there who isn’t a patron is considered a trespasser and/or vagrant and the hotel has the right to have them removed.
- Our insurance company asks us to make sure our people are wearing the wristbands. Before we made wearing wrist bands mandatory, one hotel tried to force us into paying for 900 daily breakfasts they served, even though we only had 600 attendees.
- Some people try to come to the Celebration without paying and they are usually the ones who disobey the rules and get the rest of us in trouble. They have nothing vested and consequently nothing to lose if they get kicked off property. We've been to a couple of hotels where people who were not part of our group tried to upset the apple cart and embarrass the hotel staff and other guests. The only reason our reputation was protected was because the folks causing the commotion were not wearing ACOF wrist bands.
- It entitles you to be at the hotel and receive all of the benefits of the ACOF such as morning breakfast, nightly happy hour, use of the pool and lobby area, reduced drink prices, free bus rides into town, entry into nightly ball room entertainment, among other benefits.
A: This is a step by step guide on how to register on the website and then subscribe to the Celebration.
- On the home page, click on the box with the title "On-line Registration." You will be directed to a site with a blank form. This is the website registration. Fill out this form to register for the A Celebration of Friends. (All information is strictly confidential.)
- Once the form is completely filled out hit the "Submit" button to pay your registration fee though PayPal.
- Upon successful registration, the person should be taken to a page where the first line of text should be "Success" followed by "Hey there, YOUR NAME!" (Where "your name" is the first Name and Last Name provided in the registration form.) Seeing this page is indicative that you are registered on the website.
- Once payment is complete, you are both registered on the website and registered for the Celebration.