Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

World (of Chocolate) AIDS Day

by Annie Vulpas

In honor of World AIDS Day, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago hosted its annual “World of Chocolate” event on December 2, 2010 at the Hilton Chicago.  Our AmeriCorps team was privileged to volunteer and attend the fantastic fiesta where guests tasted chocolate creations from over 30 of Chicago’s top caterers, restaurants and chocolatiers.  The event also included a light but tasty buffet, an open bar, a raffle, music, and plenty of dancing.

It was amazing to see how many people came out to support the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.  Attendance for the event was tallied at 1700 with notable visits from Governor Pat Quinn and former White House Chief of Staff and Chicago Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel.  Most guests wore a splash of red commemorating those living with HIV and those who have died of AIDS.

As a team, we were responsible for cleaning up after the event which included taking down fake pine trees and fitting them into boxes, which proved to be quite the challenge.  We also assisted in cleaning up the volunteer room, stacking chairs and folding up tables.

The event was a blast.  It was refreshing to see how many people were aware of World AIDS Day and how much pleasure they took in supporting the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.  It made us feel proud of the front line work we each do everyday to help educate and reach out to people who may be at risk for contracting the disease.  Seeing everyone out that night reminded us that, despite working independently at times, we’re not alone in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Chicago.

Hola Amigos!!! National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Ashley Kirkpatrick

Team Indy participated in an annual health fair at a local community center for the Latino community. This was an opportunity for this community to receive health information along with free HIV testing and various STI testing. Although many did not attend,  the event stood as a statement for the community that there are stigmas in this community as others, and that it takes more than community health fairs to reach at-risk populations. Prevention and outreach is a laborious task and has to be done through creative methods.

Team Indy took those efforts to the street by displaying signs outside of the community center, encouraging the passing traffic to pull over and get tested.  In Indiana there are over 50,000 Latinos residing in this state and the Indiana State Department of Health reports that in 2008 there were almost 8,000 reported cases of  HIV/AIDS diagnosis.  Among these diagnosis almost 13 % of those cases are attributed to the Latino community, making it the second largest group of HIV incidences in Indiana behind African Americans. This suggests that some of the barriers that hinder prevention in the African American community could be the same among this population as well.  In observing the event it seems that language barriers would be the primary cause of lack of education and awareness in this community. We all enjoyed this educational experience and look forward to working more within this community to help bring awareness and prevention about HIV.

By Ashley Kirkpatrick

References:

Indiana Latino Institute.    http://www.indianalatino.com/english/press_release.asp

http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/Question_2(1).pdf

World AIDS Day: Carolina Style

Team Carolina participated in three different events during World AIDS Day, as the demand was so high for our team. Certainly, we decided to participate in every event we were invited to.

Project SAFE members are all smiles at NCCU's World AIDS Day program

Firstly, several campus organizations at North Carolina Central University came together to hold a series of events in honor of World AIDS Day, concluding with a program on Wed., Dec. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. entitled “NCCU Women Empowered Against HIV.” The event offered students entertainment, free refreshments, and free HIV/Syphilis testing. As the Senior Peer Educator/Mentor of Project Save a Fellow Eagle (Project SAFE), a student group of sexual health peer educators at NCCU, I wrote and directed two skits for members to perform at the program. The skits were intended to educate students about assessing their risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as the importance of HIV/STI testing. Knowing that Project SAFE’s performances potentially empowered students to take responsibility for their sexual health was both exciting and rewarding!

For the second part of the day, Team Carolina witnessed something truly amazing. One of our own, Susan Lou, organized THE World AIDS Day event at the VA hospital in Durham, NC. She spoke at length about the issues facing HIV+ patients and the need to enter them into care as soon as possible. Susan also had a chance to play the violin. She was accompanied by one of the VA Chaplains who knew how to play the piano. The audience was very moved by the performance. Even Susan’s supervisor shed a few tears. Team Carolina attended the event to support one of their own and help spread the awareness message.

The final event was held in the evening at the Hayti Heritage Center. It was the culmination of several stressful weeks full of planning, calling, arranging, ordering, etc. The event at the Hayti Heritage Center represented the largest World AIDS Day event in Durham, NC – with almost 250 individuals in attendance. Another member, Geoff Horsfield, took the lead at Hayti. He did an effective job at leading the team throughout the event. There were performances, awards, speeches, and testimonies. They all had a common theme: to end the fight against AIDS as soon as possible. Team members helped serve food and also aided in ushering. Testing was also taking place the entire evening; 3 dozen people got tested and became aware of their status! All in all, it was a meaningful and productive day for Team Carolina.

“Last Call for Truth” on World AIDS Day in New Mexico

Team New Mexico at Warehouse 21 in Santa Fe

In honor of World AIDS Day, Robert Sturm, Project Director of the New Mexico Community AIDS Partnership, with a collaborative of seven other agencies, sponsored two performances of “Last Call for Truth,” written and performed by the Push Pens. Team New Mexico volunteered at the performances, which also included a reception in remembrance of World AIDS Day. The performances were held at Warehouse 21 on December 3rd in Santa Fe, and also at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on December 4th in Albuquerque.

On Friday December 3rd, Team New Mexico volunteered at Warehouse 21 in Santa Fe. Warehouse 21 is a community center for youth which hosts visual and performance arts events, and also offers different programs for youth such as music production and lessons, painting and graffiti, and computer graphics and animation. Team New Mexico assisted with set up for both the reception and performance, and helped out as needed throughout the evening. Several agencies cosponsored and assisted with the planning for the events including Southwest CARE Center, a Santa Fe based HIV/AIDS clinic, and the HIV/AIDS Advocacy Network, both organizations with Team New Mexico AmeriCorps volunteers.

“Last Call for Truth” is a hip hop opera written and performed by Dino Foxx and Manuel “Cros” Esquivel. Through a unique approach combining original hip hop, spoken word poetry, and theater, “Last Call“ relates the upbringing, struggles and friendship of two men, one gay and one straight, from the west side of San Antonio and the challenges they faced throughout their lives. Saturday’s performance featured a question-and-answer session with the performers and sparked discussion in the community surrounding many issues including sexuality, gender roles, religion, and drugs and alcohol among others. The event and the performance also helped to increase HIV awareness among the Hispanic LGBT community, a population that in New Mexico is more at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Team NOLA on World AIDS Day

Team NOLA spent World AIDS Day at the Stevenson’s Academy of Hair Design. We were there to support our sponsor, the Louisiana Office of Public Health, as they kicked off an initiative that teaches hair stylists how to talk to their clients about HIV.

The NO/AIDS Task Force provided free, rapid HIV testing in their mobile testing unit while N’R Peace provided free syphilis testing for the students.

Meanwhile, there was a health fair on the second floor of the school. Several agencies had tables at the fair, including the Southeast Louisiana American Red Cross, the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the HIV/AIDS Program Clinic.

Team NOLA helped out at the tables for the NO/AIDS Task Force, N’R Peace, family planning, and Americorps. We talked to many students and had a great time passing out condoms, providing free health information, and recruiting for next year’s National AIDS Fund Americorps team.

We are greater than AIDS!

World AIDS Day for Team Tulsa

World AIDS Day for Team Tulsa began as a low-key testing event a local university in the afternoon and grew into a community gathering at night.

Testing

For the past couple of years, Team Tulsa has had the opportunity to use the Student Health Center at the University of Tulsa as a temporary testing site on World AIDS Day. This year was no different. We had a slow start, but Paige and Kacie spread the word at the campus’s activity center, and soon the clients came pouring in. We were only supposed to be there until 1:00pm, but the amount of clients waiting for testing required we stay longer. Kristin, Danielle and Carolyn ended up testing about 20 TU students in less than four hours. We also gave away condoms, male and female, and literature on HIV. In the waiting area, clients were greeted with a penis model and plastic model of the female reproductive organs, demonstrating the proper insertion of a female condom. Overall, the first part of our day went pretty well. It was a great start to World AIDS Day 2010.

After resting for a bit, the team members rejoined each other at Langston University in North Tulsa. There, Tulsa CARES, a major organization specializing in the well-being of those living with HIV/AIDS, set up a feast for the World AIDS Day commemoration event “Light for Rights.” Team Tulsa set up the candles for the lighting event later in the night. People from the community gathered and mingled while a local singer/songwriter entertained until about 6:30, when the event began. A few speakers, including our very own city supervisor, Janice Nicklas, addressed the state of HIV in the world, nation and Oklahoma. Rebecca Ungerman, a delightful and boisterous local performer (who was also at our Make a Difference Day event, DIVAS), addressed the conspicuous absence of any Tulsa and Oklahoma lawmakers at the end, which received a rousing round of applause.

A church choir sang after the speakers finished, followed by a heart wrenching story of a local Native American woman who was infected with HIV 18 years ago. The team then found our stations by the doors, and led the crowd outside, giving them candles along the way. The crowd stood in darkness while Pastor Bob Lawrence of the Community of Hope church gave a solemn speech, remembering those we have lost due to HIV and AIDS. Then, one by one, the crowd lit their candles and stood in silence in the cold.
The event was overwhelming, and required personal reflection from every participant involved. The sense of togetherness and community permeated the night, and brought Team Tulsa even closer together.