Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

National HIV Testing Day

The month of June was jam packed for Team Indianapolis promoting National HIV Testing Day in various ways.  Check out our work below!

 

Are you Positive you are Negative?

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Team Indy ended the year strong with a final project promoting National HIV Testing Day on June 27th.  To motivate our community to take the test and take control, the team worked diligently with WISH TV, a local television station, to create a public service announcement to air throughout the week.  We wanted to instill a bit of doubt in the community to motivate each individual to reach out and find a free testing site.  We did this through statements such as “I’m positive, I always have protected sex…except that one time.” We are hoping statements such as this will spark an internal conversation and a bit of question about their HIV status.  Even with just a little bit of doubt, we are hoping it will be enough to push people to get tested.

It was an awesome experience to witness the production side of entertainment even through just a 15 sec segment.  The spacing of each individual for the final shot, alone, took about 30 minutes!  Once the PSA starting airing, we were able to share it across all social media sources.  It was very rewarding seeing it air on TV and hear that many of the participants had received multiple calls from friends about their recent TV fame.

Be sure to have a look for yourself!

 

 

National HIV Testing Day Raffle:

 

IU Health LifeCare held its annual basket fundraiser this Friday, June 27th for National HIV Testing Day. IU Health employees could enter into the basket fundraiser and then head over to the clinic for a free HIV test. All proceeds from the fundraiser go to support the 2014 Indiana AIDS Walk. Basket Themes included Movie Night, Kids Movie Night, Red Wine & Cheese and White Wine & Cheese. IU Health LifeCare, Methodist Hospital’s comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment clinic, is a recipient of the funds raised to benefit those with HIV/AIDS who need assistance with emergency shelter, utilities, food, medicine, and other daily living needs.  A large percentage of the proceeds raised by the basket fundraiser will come directly back to LifeCare and IU Health.

Kids Movie Night Basket 2014

 

 

Indyhivtest.com

 

With Team Indy, my placement was with the AIDS Service Organization Step-Up. One of my duties at Step-Up was to maintain their website IndyHIVTest.com which was an outreach tool that we used to inform the general public of when and where they could get free HIV and STD testing. The website gives information about HIV and other STDs and is then divided into various sections representing different areas of Indianapolis, i.e. Central, East, West, etc. I keep the information updated with current addresses and contact information for various testing sites around Indianapolis as well as their hours of operation and any outreach testing that they do offsite. Another use for IndyHIVTest.com is that we can advertise various testing events taking place in the city. This feature was especially useful for advertising National HIV Testing Day and was a central piece in our Testing Day public service announcement that we created as part of our Long Term Project. IndyHIVTest.com now has all the information anyone would need to find out when and where testing events are taking place in Indianapolis for National HIV Testing Day.​

 

Walgreen’s National HIV Testing Day Event:

 

For National HIV Testing Day, the Damien Center partnered with Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens to provide free HIV testing at 6 Walgreens locations across Indianapolis. As the AmeriCorps member in testing and prevention, it was my responsibility to plan the event. I never realized how much planning went into an event like this. The most challenging aspect of planning was getting media coverage. I was plagued with the challenge of how to reach the population that needs to be tested the most. Like most things, everything worked out. Hot 96 (a local hip-hop/R&B) station agreed to do a remote at one of the central Walgreens locations on the first day of testing. The local Fox News station interviewed several Damien Center staff about the importance of getting tested, and other local news agencies talked about the event on air. From Thursday June 26-Saturday June 28, we tested more than 200 people, many of whom had never been tested before. The testing event was a huge success and a great learning experience for me.

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Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service

Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service
 
We are a little late to post but we will post nonetheless.  Mayor’s Day of Service was a blast and we don’t want to pass on talking about it! 
 
Mirroring the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) mission, Mayor’s Day of Recognition focuses on engaging community members and local citizens to strengthen the communities to which they serve and foster civic engagment.  This coordinated day, with over 1750 mayors participating nationally, highlights the impact and importance of community service, demonstrates appreciation for those currently serving and hopefully inspires residents to give back to their communities as well. 
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Team Indianapolis was thrilled to participate in Mayor Ballard’s coordinated day of service and appreciation alongside Wendy Spencer, the CEO of CNCS.  The team worked dilligently alongside 150 AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members, representing over 15 different programs, to prepare back sacks for neighborhood children to take home for the weekend.  These sacks provide supplemental nutrition to children in need through healthy and filling non-perishable food items.  Pairing with NCCC and public allies, our assembly line alone was able to prepare over 1200 sacks!
 
The previous day, members of each AmeriCorps program were invited to a small round table discussion with Wendy Spencer where we were able to learn of our respective programs.  It was an awesome experience to learn of how far reaching the AmeriCorps network is and how different our programs are! Through a bit of networking, Team Indy is very excited to support the Indianapolis Public Allies program through their LGTQ+ film series and discussions.
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Working Towards a Healthier NOLA

Can you believe it’s almost halfway through April? Yeah, that’s what Team NOLA is feeling as this month flies by. March was a busy one for us. With countless meetings, Walgreens testing, Long Term Project, and several other events (cough cough Mardi Gras) – we barely had time to breathe. March was also Healthy Futures Month. We spent the month of March and beginning of April focusing on what we could do as a team to promote healthy living in New Orleans. Below is a snapshot of our “extra healthy” month:

1) Walgreens testing — This has been such an amazing partnership. Every other Thursday, the four of us head to one of the two Walgreens to test for four hours. We now have laminated signs in each store (yeah, we’re fancy) and two testing spaces. The testing has gone fabulously, especially since we started using INSTI, a 60-second finger-prick test. Find out your status in one minute- um, how could you say NO? More and more people are getting tested each week –and we have officially memorized all of the aisles in Walgreens.

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Students learn about clinics in their area

2) Syphilis Outreach — This is as fun as it sounds (well, fun for us). During the month of March we did outreach in three different locations across New Orleans. The purpose of outreach was to inform the community about free to low-cost testing resources. We also had quite a few conversations about syphilis itself (extra fun!) including the signs and symptoms, local infection rates, risks of no treatment, and treatment options. Needless to say we all have some entertaining stories.

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C.H.A.T. talks with students about their program

3) Health Fair- On March 19th Landry-Walker High School held a Health Extravaganza and invited our partner organizations, NO/AIDS Task Force (NATF) and Priority Health Care. Rebecca and I paired up with C.H.A.T. (Curbing HIV/AIDS Transmission), a youth program through NATF, to give away awesome prizes. We managed the “sex education table” where students could spin our wheel for a sexual health-related question. We had a blast! We talked with about 80 kids – all of whom knew little to nothing about HIV and STIs. The students were not shy with their questions which made it way more fun for us.  Overall, it was a well-planned and informative event. There was hula-hooping, food, games, prizes and more!

 

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Students show off their sweet hula-hooping skills

 

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From left- Louie, Lauren, Rebecca, and Michael setting up the tent for NYHAAD

4) NYHAAD- My favorite event in the last month or so was definitely National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (mouthful, right?). For NYHAAD, two of our placements hosted a testing/education event (C.H.A.T. Project & The Movement). We had free condoms, educational games, a photo booth… and even fried chicken! The testing event lasted 5 hours so it could accommodate those just getting out of school. We set up a booth outside of The Movement’s office- which happens to be a pretty busy corner- to attract attention to our testing event. A total of 20 people got tested, but plenty of people stopped by to learn….and of course grab food!

You may ask- what was the best part of your day, Helene? — JUST DANCE. At the end of the day, all four of us got to play the “Just Dance” game on the PS3 at the office. We had quite the audience. Hopefully all of the dancing evidence is burned. ;) Rebecca took home the crown of “best Team NOLA dancer” and our sweaty sad attempt at dancing ended in the cutest team picture of all time (see below).

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Louie modeling next to our sex education wheel

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Louie and I rocking The Movement’s photo booth for NYHAAD

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The cutest team photo ever- courtesy of our city supervisor

 

5) Long Term Project- So this is ACTUALLY the most exciting thing of the month- and the months to come! Our team is working on a website to help link individuals, especially youth, to medical care. Linkage to care is an incredibly important issue nationwide- but also in our own backyard. We want this website to be an important and holistic resource for someone who is newly diagnosed with HIV, who wants to get back into care, or who has just moved to NOLA and needs resources. Receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis can be overwhelming. We want this website to be not only informative, but also encouraging and personal. During the month of March, we presented the website to several committees and had countless meetings.

To Team NOLA, this website is at the core of our “Healthy Futures” month. We made sure it was mobile-friendly, understandable, and discreet. Although it is a work-in-progress, we hope this website empowers youth to take charge of their own health and even inspire their peers. Stay tuned for the website launch! We can’t wait to share it and get some feedback. :)

 

Please excuse my incredibly long post this month. Healthy Futures month had us busy- but also I have troubling shutting up. If you have any questions -or just want to say hi to Team NOLA- our email is nolahealthlink@gmail.com !

Love,

Team NOLA

Month of March in Cleveland

Team Cleveland kept busy during the month of March with getting the word out about our Long Term Project plans and the AmeriCorps program.

On March 9, we participated in an annual Cleveland event called The Tolerance Fair. The event was hosted by a group called Honor Good Deeds and is held annually to raise awareness about differences and diversity. Different organizations from around the Cleveland area set up tables and share information about the work that they do. This year it was estimated that about 4,000 people attended the event.  We were there with the AIDS Funding Collaborative table getting the word out about HIV and our Americorps program. Many people were interested in what we do and what AmeriCorps is. As members, we were able to make great connections in the community for places to volunteer at, do HIV-related work such as presentations at, and one member was asked to give a talk about the AmeriCorps program at an organization with clients who might be interested in applying. All in all, it was a great opportunity to speak with other organizations and community members who are dedicated to making positive change while we got the word out about who the AIDS United Team Cleveland is and what we do.

Setting up at the Tolerance Fair

March also marked the month in which we finalized plans for our Long Term Project.  Through attending local meetings in the HIV community and passing surveys out to consumers, we realized as a team we saw a need for some sort of retreat or gathering for people living with HIV in the Cleveland area. We decided we will host a day long wellness empowerment workshop for PLWHA. At this event, people will have the opportunity to participate in facilitated workshops related to empowerment, wellness, and overall well-being and community-building. We began publicizing this event on March 19 at a community briefing held by the AIDS Funding Collaborative. This event was attended by other people who work in the HIV community here in Cleveland. We spoke briefly about who we are as Americorps members and what our program is about. We then made an announcement about our Long Term Project plans, while passing out flyers that we had created about our event. We have also launched a GoFundMe website to raise awareness about our event while also fundraising.

Long Term Project informational flyer

Long Term Project informational flyer

In all, we look forward to continuing our work on our project as we get the word out to the community!

Team Chicago: Housing IS Healthcare

While treatment has evolved to the point that HIV/AIDS can be a manageable chronic illness for most, unstable housing severely threatens that reality. Homelessness impedes access to healthcare, leaves one vulnerable to hazardous health conditions, and undermines the stability necessary for a consistent treatment regimen. And

Our Donation Drive Poster, designed by team member Eric

Our Donation Drive Poster, designed by team member Eric

the number of those affected by the intersection of HIV and homelessness is alarming. Approximately 4 percent of the homeless population of the United States is believed to be HIV-positive, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 50 percent of the 1.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States are at risk of becoming homeless. The severity of homelessness in the HIV community is very real.

Team Chicago’s members are grateful to be placed at agencies aware that housing IS healthcare and that homelessness is a critical issue for the HIV/AIDS community. That is why, for our long term service project, we wanted to serve this cause and to benefit agencies providing housing opportunities to the HIV/AIDS community. We’ve decided to raise funds and supplies for the housing programs at The AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Chicago House and Social Services Agency, which collectively provide housing to over 800 people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Specifically, our fundraising efforts are focused on providing new home, cleaning, and hygiene supplies to newly housed HIV-positive clients. While government funds are more readily available for groceries and clothing vouchers, few dollars are earmarked for these everyday essentials that are part of a healthy life and home. It is our hope that, through gathering these supplies and funds, we can help our agencies provide the stability and environments necessary for our clients to live full, healthy lives.

Supplies collected at one of our sites, Bonaventure House

Supplies collected at one of our sites, Bonaventure House

Our team has planned a series of fundraisers over the next several weeks, but for AmeriCorps’ “Healthy Futures Month,” we decided to host a donation drive at our area agencies. Through posters, social media, email blasts, and word of mouth, we encouraged employees of our host agencies to bring in hygiene and cleaning supplies to benefit our clients. Check out the photo to see some of our spoils!

Filled Bellies, Happy Bellies.

To end the month with a bang, Team Indy organized and implemented our very own Food Drive benefiting the Damien Center.  The Damien Center is a local AIDS Service Organization focusing on empowering clients across Central Indiana affected by HIV to move forward in life with dignity. This community organization provides care coordination, supportive and medical services.  A pivotal department within the Damien Center is the Coby Palmer Food Pantry.  When diet is critical in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system, the Damien Center serves as a community leader in both providing educational instruction and providing supplemental nutrition.
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