Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

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.

A Grand Difference!

Team Indy’s Make a Difference Day was nothing less than Grand! We were honored to be able to volunteer and attend the Damien Center’s annual Grande Masquerade, one of two major fundraisers the Damien Center holds each year, where all proceeds are given back to clients. The Damien Center is a local agency that offers vital supportive services to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS so they may live abundant and productive lives.

The morning of the event, our team was beginning to feel as if we were affected by this year’s title “The Sorcerer’s Spell” from all the work that mysteriously kept appearing. From assembling the lights to cutting colored film to be placed over lights was both exciting yet strenuous. The work only heightened when we were introduced to the dining area where we placed hundreds of chairs in their proper place while at the same time showing off our cleverly effective bow tying on the backs of those chairs.

Walking into the luxury hotel that night didn’t seem to be the same room we helped in decorating earlier! The decorations were something of a fantasy and the elaborate costumes were amazing. The night started off with a silent auction followed by dinner, entertainment, and midnight dancing. To see clients, board members, and sponsors having such a good time meant a lot to team Indianapolis. We knew our work did not go unnoticed and that it for sure made a difference. Our work benefited clients apart of the Damien Center as well as impacted the community by bringing people from all walks of life together! The Grande Masquerade was an eventful night and Team Indy was so thankful to the Circle City Coalition for allowing us the opportunity to experience it. We hope to make The Grande Masquerade a yearly tradition and look forward to continuing to make a difference everyday!

Living Positive By Design!

October 22, 2010 marked a day of  eagerness and anticipation for team Indianapolis as we took part in a meet and greet with Jack Mackenroth! Jack Mackenroth was a contestant on season 4 of the popular show “Project Runway”  hosted by Heidi Klum. During his brief appearance on the show he came out with being infected with HIV. This led to his campaign “Living Positive By Design”, an organization created to break stigmas about HIV/AIDS and for people living with the disease to think positive while keeping their health in check.

Team Indianapolis with Project Runway designer Jack Mackenroth

Team Indianapolis was honored to be invited to hear Mackenroth speak about his time on the show and his story behind the disease that he’s been living with for almost 20 years . Jack definitely doesn’t let this disease run him and motivates others to do the same.  His words not only enlightened our team but inspired us to want to do more with breaking down stereotypes tied to HIV/AIDS.

With such a personable setting, guests were elated to ask questions relating to HIV infected/affected clients, health issues, and of course autographs! The team bonded with other health agencies across the city and took away beneficial information we can all use in our placements. Team Indy  hopes to lead by example in our work as does Jack and wouldn’t mind meeting and greeting celebrities a long the way!