DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Abounding Prosperity will launch its new initiative, “Dallas Taking Control,” at a town hall meeting that will be held next week in conjunction with the first South Dallas AIDS walk.
Kirk Myers, Abounding Prosperity’s CEO, said his organization is the only African-American run AIDS organization in South Dallas. The agency’s offices are located across the street from AIDS Arms’ Peabody Clinic.
Among the initiative’s goals are increased access to prevention education and outreach to men who have sex with men, and increasing awareness of the urgency of HIV/AIDS through social networking and increase partnerships.
Myers said that while AIDS Arms cares for people with HIV, his organization is dedicated to preventing infection.
He referred to the $8 million AIDS Arms is raising for a second clinic.
“Eight million dollars can prevent a lot of HIV cases too,” he said.
He said he isn’t criticizing the work of AIDS Arms, but is questioning the county’s and state’s commitment to promoting awareness and preventing the disease.
The South Dallas AIDS Walk will be held on Saturday, March 19. The Anthony Chisolm AIDS Foundation that scheduled the walk planned a town hall meeting the night before at Cornerstone Baptist Church. Phill Wilson is the featured speaker.
Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999. Before that he co-chaired the Los Angeles County HIV Health Commission and was director of policy and planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles.
After Wilson speaks, Dallas’ new first lady, State Rep. Barbara Mallory-Carroway, will moderate a panel discussion about the Dallas Taking Control initiative.
Among the panelists will be Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson. From the Texas Department of State Health Services, the director and the manager of the TB, HIV and STD division, Felipe Rocha and Dr. Ann Robbins, will appear along with Kevin Jones, a behavioral scientist with the Centers for Disease Control.
A study issued by the CDC last year found that gay black men in Dallas had among the highest rates of HIV in the country. Myers called the statistics a disaster and his organization requested a state of emergency in Dallas.
While the state of emergency was denied, Myers said that the panel is a result. He said this is the first time county and state health officials have come together specifically to address the black gay community in Dallas.
Myers said that his organization continues to grow and is receiving more recognition for its work.
Abounding Prosperity operates Prosperity House in South Dallas as a temporary housing providing low-cost transitional housing.
Myers said his agency is looking to expand to provide free temporary housing for at-risk gay black youth aged 17 or older.
First South Dallas AIDS Walk steps off on March 19
The Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation will hold the first South Dallas AIDS Walk on Saturday, March 19.
The 5K walk begins and ends at the South Dallas Cultural Center on Fitzhugh Avenue near Fair Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m.
“The goal is to inspire, galvanize and rally South Dallas,” the foundation’s executive director, Auntjuan Wiley, said.
He said the dollar goal is $100,000.
“We still need sponsors, vendors, volunteers, walkers and teams,” Wiley said.
At the end of the walk, he said there will be entertainment and children’s activities.
Wiley said the foundation, which began in 2008, provides financial assistance for people with HIV. They help with rent, utility bills, insurance payments and access to medication. Transportation vouchers help clients get to their medical appointments.
For more information, please call Auntjuan Wiley at (214) 455-7316. You may also visit SouthDallasAIDSWalk.org.
The agency also provides HIV and syphilis testing, counseling and referral services. Myers said his group is not a nine-to-five office-hours, HIV testing organization.
“Our goal is to serve the most at-risk people,” he said. “We do it at times convenient to our clientele.”
That includes sending staff to clients’ homes when necessary, Myers said.
Abounding Prosperity also runs substance abuse meetings for men dealing with alcohol and drug problems.
This year, Black Tie Dinner approached the group about applying to become a beneficiary. Myers said the agency completed and submitted its application and he is waiting to see if Abounding Prosperity is accepted as a beneficiary.
Myers said he appreciated the outreach by Black Tie and added that it confirmed that the work his organization is doing within the black gay community is being recognized beyond the South Dallas community as well.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.