Browsing Category: Community Partnerships

Team DC Unveils the T.H.E. Memorial Garden

This year Team DC decided to collaborate with Transgender Health Empowerment in their efforts to enhance the quality of life of the diverse transgender population that they serve. Our team is worked hard to provide support to their clients, and revitalize the plot of land adjacent to THE. Our efforts were to help allow THE clients to take ownership of a community garden and provide a space to gather and facilitate community building.

Starting in February, we began to create a detailed plan on how the garden was going to look like, how much it was going to cost us, how we would raise the money and what kind of long-term effect we wanted the community garden to leave. We literally began the renewal of the garden with a pair of gloves, a few trash bags and our hands. We spent one full day pulling weeds, some reaching the height of our hips.  The messy plot of land was filled with rocks, clay, bricks, needles, broken glass, trash, you name it! However, once we finished the garden, it was filled with lots of herbs and vegetables including zucchini squash, oregano, okra, basil, tomatoes and our favorite, chocolate mint!  The goal was to have not only a peaceful place for their low-income, HIV positive clients to relax in but for them to also adapt a healthy lifestyle with fresh vegetables and herbs that they could hand pick.

After months of running in an out of Home Depot, getting assistance from local carpenters Danny and Randy, raising nearly $2,000, days in the heat working tirelessly, a 10′ x 12′ patio, picnic table, grill, bench, a hydrangea tree and many shrubs, vegetables and herbs later, we decided to reveal the garden on June 27, which happened to be National HIV Testing Day.  Our team ended up administering over 80 HIV tests to people in the local community along with passing out fish and hamburger trays as incentives for getting tested!

Team DC is so proud of our hard work as a team! Being able to create a space for such a small organization that serves a population that is constantly overlooked was a very rewarding way to end our year as Americorps members.

World AIDS Day 2011 in Tulsa, OK

OttWorld AIDS Day was certainly a long one this year, as there were two events going on in Tulsa. Instead of picking one, Team Tulsa decided to do them both! First we attended Tulsa CARES’ annual World AIDS Day Symposium. Tulsa CARES is an HIV/AIDS organization that works with HIV-positive people living in poverty. Then we went to Tulsa’s World AIDS Day program and premiere of “We Were Here,” a documentary about the early days of AIDS epidemic in San Francisco and how the city responded.

At the symposium, we learned about issues from a wide variety of sources facing people living with HIV/AIDS  in Tulsa . The first presenter, Jim Ott, talked to us about the “rush to judgment” that we fight against in our work with HIV. Then we had a panel of health experts talk about current and promising medical advances, including new drugs and trials. It was very informative, especially hearing from our HIV-positive audience members and learning their health concerns.

harrisonAfter lunch, Dr. Timothy Harrison from the  US Department of Health and Human Services explained how the National HIV/AIDS Strategy was created and how it would affect Oklahoma. Christopher Grano from the Northern Colorado AIDS Project talked to us about taking stigma out of our prevention materials. Instead of using scare tactics that make people living with HIV seem evil, negligent, or dangerous, he wants us to put people first and have sex-positive prevention materials that focus on good behaviors (getting tested, wearing condoms, not discriminating against people with HIV, etc). Our last presenter asked us to be mindful of the ethics in how we share information about clients with other agencies. Even though sharing might be legal through releases or lack of laws, it might not be ethical. The whole program helped us professionally and personally and was a good reminder that we have the information and medications to end AIDS.

At the candlelight vigil, we had a chance to remember our co-workers, clients, and friends with HIV who have passed. Then we went inside the independent movie theater to listen to stories from Tulsa’s early response to the HIV epidemic. We had a lot of former AmeriCorps site supervisors and an AmeriCorps member from the first team talk about their experiences at the beginning of the epidemic and their hopes for the future. There were lots of people dying in Oklahoma at the beginning, and Ric Harrison, a former AmeriCorps member, was a part of a VNA hospice group that help ease the passing of Tulsans with AIDS. Janice Nicklas, our city supervisor, talked about founding TCAP, Tulsa Community AIDS Project, and Tulsa CARES. It was good for the AmeriCorps team to hear these stories of the beginning of the epidemic since none of us had been born during that time. Hearing all the stories and hopes for the future made us feel more committed to the cause. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the epidemic, but there’s still a lot more to do!

A Call For Collaboration and Advocacy: the Community Partnership Model Evolves

Christine Wasikby Christine Wasik
Community AIDS Partnership of the Capital Region
Albany, NY

Another wonderful AIDS United Community Partnership Meeting!  Thanks so much to AIDS United and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago for their hospitality.  It is so helpful to get together with other Partnerships and find out the new and innovative things people are doing as well as share with each other the similar challenges we are facing.  We are all struggling with decreases in funding and donor fatigue, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS.  People have been working so hard for so many years to end AIDS in their communities and it seems that it is harder and harder to get people’s attention about the issue.

Over the past two years AU has been stressing the importance of collaboration and advocacy.   After last week’s meeting I believe we have some clear direction to begin discussing and implementing much needed changes to our Partnership.   I now feel prepared to take some of the concepts we have been discussing for the past two years and strategize ways to make them work locally.   The support from AU has always been top notch but after this meeting I am especially confident to tackle a new partnership model.  AU seems to understand that, as they are, the Partnerships are finding their way through this process.  It is evident that AU is prepared to support us patiently along the way and assist us in achieving shared goals even if we all get there on slightly different paths.

Thanks so much again for a great meeting!

AmeriCorps Team Chicago Participates in Make a Difference Day

photo of Team ChicagoOn Saturday, October 23, our team volunteered with our team member Tracy Gallagher’s host agency the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project (CWAP) at their annual Positive and Powerful, We’re Still Standing! conference.  The conference was an all-day event at the University of Illinois at Chicago and included a presentation by keynote speaker Waheedah Shabazz-El, empowerment workshops, movement workshops, a raffle and awards.

A week earlier, on Friday, October 15, we got together as a team at CWAP and prepared boxes of games and toys for the children who would be at the conference with their mothers.  We also organized fliers and made folders for the participants.

When we got to the conference, we each had different roles.  A few of the team members worked at the registration table, getting participants signed in and pointing them in the right direction to rooms that were spread out over three floors.  Others helped set up food, showed participants where their workshops were, and passed out information.  During the movement workshops, which included stepping and salsa, a few members of the team joined in learning the dance moves and mingling with participants.

What struck us most as a team were the various faces and ages that came through the door, giving light to who exactly we were serving: everyone. It wasn’t like magic to see them light up when we said there was breakfast, nor was it unbelievable that they smiled when we smiled, grateful to receive a break from their daily lives. What it was was real life and seeing how offering someone child care, meals, and exciting activities really meant a lot to women who traveled from all over the city to make it. What we recognized as a team is our obligation to servicing communities in need as they are dedicated to come when people provide opportunities for empowerment. Just being there and assisting however we could was a shot of reality: yes we made a difference and yes it was absolutely appreciated.

The event was really fun and, thanks to Tracy’s leadership, everything went smoothly.  We were able to spend time supporting the participants who were living with HIV/AIDS in a way that was outside of our usual professional role.  We were able to meet their children, shake their hands and help them in ways that testing and counseling doesn’t let us. In order to recognize the humanity of the situation, that we are not dealing with clients but with people who have needs, that made a world of difference for us. We are thankful for the chance to see a different color in the spectrum of being in service to our community.

- Annie V. and Phillip W., Team Chicago

7 HIV/AIDS Directors From NAF Community Partnership Network Selected for UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program

Seven leaders of community-based HIV/AIDS organizations from the National AIDS Fund’s Community Partnership network have been selected to participate in the 2010 University of California Los Angeles(UCLA)/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program, taking place July 18 – 27, 2010 on the UCLA campus.

The UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program is a management development program exclusively for executive directors and leaders of community-based health care organizations. The program provides an intensive ten days of management and leadership development at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles, California. Participants are senior executives from community-based healthcare organizations, and engage in a rigorous but relevant curriculum that provides the requisite skills, knowledge and abilities to successfully manage their organizations. The program has graduated over 500 participants since its inception in 2002.

The selected NAF-affiliated leaders for the 2010 program head up organizations that receive funding from their respective National AIDS Fund Community Partnerships, and were nominated by key staff members at those Partnerships.

“The National AIDS Fund takes great pride in the fact that these selected participants in the Health Care Executive Program are part of the NAF Community Partnership network,” said National AIDS Fund President and CEO Kandy Ferree, who is a 2007 graduate of the program. The enthusiastic recommendations from their respective Community Partnerships demonstrate another way that the National AIDS Fund and its stakeholder organizations are helping to cultivate a bright new generation of HIV leaders, as we have done for 15 years with our AmeriCorps program.”

One HCEP participant, Kate Neary-Pounds, executive director of Health Outreach Prevention Education (H.O.P.E.) in Tulsa, OK, was herself a member the National AIDS Fund AmeriCorps team in Tulsa. She was enthusiastically nominated for HCEP by Tulsa Community AIDS Partnership director Janice Nicklas, who was also Neary-Pounds’ city supervisor when she was an AmeriCorps member.

“I am so excited for Kate,” said Nicklas.”She is just such an up and coming leader…..and a genuine caring person in addition to all her hard work associated with HIV prevention programs.”

Neary-Pounds is honored to have been nominated and selected to participate in HCEP.

“This experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity to better myself as a leader and manager, which will make my organization stronger,” she said. “Good leadership at H.O.P.E. trickles down to every direct service staff member, which equals better service for our clients. Good leadership also translates into long-term viability, creative service delivery, and funding success.”

Neary-Pounds believes that her experience as a NAF AmeriCorps member has been instrumental in her career choice and her professional development.

“Being a National AIDS Fund AmeriCorps member was my introduction into HIV/AIDS work, which has provided me a passion for social justice and a deep appreciation for diversity,” said Neary-Pounds. “AmeriCorps provided me experience, credibility, and a wonderful network that paved the way for my current role at H.O.P.E.
Community partnership-nominated HCEP participants range from “up and coming” leaders to seasoned professionals. Jo Bull, Chief Operating Officer of the Central Carolina Community Foundation and key staff for NAF’s Community Partnership in South Carolina nominated Carmen Julious, a woman with more than 20 years working in the HIV/AIDS community.

“Carmen has demonstrated outstanding talent in administrative/management as well as clinical services in health care and prevention,” said Bull. “She has a keen understanding of the needs of the populations served by her agency as evidenced by program development efforts, and engages in continuous self-evaluation and is constantly seeking to improve her talent and skill as a manager and administrator.”

Julious is looking forward to enhancing her already well-honed skills. “I have been fortunate to work in the HIV/AIDS field for over 20 years, serving in many capacities,” she said. “I believe that the program will help to make me a better leader by providing the opportunity to develop and expand my current skill set and gain new skills, gain access to a diverse network of leaders from different parts of the country, identify and utilize organizational models, and develop tools to strengthen organizational stability.”

Philip K. Goropoulos is President/CEO AIDS Community Alliance in Harrisburg, PA and was nominated by Rosemary Browne, the key staff person for NAF’s Community Partnership in Harrisburg, the AIDS Fund of South Central Pennsylvania. Goropoulos feels that his participation in HCEP comes at the perfect time in the growth of his agency.

“Over the next five years, AIDS Community Alliance will be entering an exciting time of growth and challenge,” Goropoulos said. “We’ll be exploring the use of its skills, experience and resources to address the health disparities experienced by vulnerable populations in the South Central Pennsylvania community. The UCLA/Johnson and Johnson Health Care Executive Program offers an excellent opportunity for me to network with and learn from peers in the field who are currently addressing many of these disparities and potentially working with some of the same target populations we will be working with in our community.”

One 2010 HCEP participant, Michelle Wetzel had a recent career change that led to her nomination for the HCEP. Wetzel spent 20 years in HIV/AIDS services, the last 10 of which were as a practicing legal aid attorney for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago’s HIV/AIDS Project, before being tapped to serve as Chief Executive Officer of Chicago’s Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry/Bonaventure House. She was nominated for the HCEP by AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), a NAF Community Partnership that supports Wetzel’s organization through the NAF Challenge Grants program funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In her CEO position for just under a year, Wetzel is confident that the HCEP will have a significant impact on her leadership skills, and on the growth of her organization.

“My first year as CEO has been about learning the job,” Wetzel said. “I think I’m ready now to take on the bigger strategic planning for our organization and this program will help me hone the skills to do that. If I am a more effective leader by providing clear vision and direction, then our organization can continue to grow and serve more people in the community.”

It was AFC President and CEO Mark Ishaug who nominated Wetzel for the HCEP, who affirms his confidence in Wetzel’s leadership abilities as well as the growth that she and the organization will experience as a result of her participation.

“Michelle has the competence, communication skills, and vision to be a true leader,” said Ishaug. “Being a part of the HCEP will allow Michelle to network, gain the courage to make hard and important decisions and guide her organization in the future through financial difficulties facing non-profit organizations around the country.”
With such a strong talent pool being nominated by NAF Community Partnerships for HCEP, NAF President Kandy Ferree begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting looks forward to an even stronger network of Partnership grantee organizations. Ferree knows firsthand just how beneficial the program can be for both emerging and established HIV community leaders.

“HCEP is one of the most energizing and inspiring professional development opportunities I have ever had as an HIV organization director,” said Ferree. “It is encouraging to know that National AIDS Fund through its Community Partnerships can continue passing this torch to exceptional leaders, while building stronger, more efficient grantee organizations.”