Abounding Prosperity receives $1.7 million grant

South Dallas prevention organization targets population hardest hit by new HIV infections

FUTURE MOVE? | Kirk Myers, CEO of Abounding Prosperity, says that his agency, now located in South Dallas across the street from the Peabody Health Center, will have to move to a bigger space to adequately house the extra staff he needs to operate the grant the agency just received from the CDC. (David Taffet/DallasVoice.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Abounding Prosperity, a South Dallas-based AIDS education organization, has been awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, and is the only agency in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be included in this round of CDC funding.

The money will be used to expand HIV prevention services for young gay and bisexual men of color, transgender youth of color and their partners, according to Kirk Myers, CEO of Abounding Prosperity.

Myers said that his organization was one of the few nationally that got fully funded. The five-year grant totals $1.7 million.

The CDC awarded prevention grants to 34 agencies around the country. This expands on an earlier program to reach the targeted populations with an increase of $10 million to $55 million nationally over five years, funding a larger number of community organizations.

“We will be trying to identify those people who are positive and unaware,” Myers said,“and help those people who are positive and know their status to become responsible for not reinfecting themselves or anyone else.

“We see ourselves as a prevention organization rather than a care organization,” he added.

Although three Dallas AIDS organizations applied for the grant money, Myers said he believes Abounding Prosperity was chosen because it targets African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 17 and 29, the group hardest hit with new infections in Dallas.

That includes many who are unemployed and underemployed.

To encourage testing and behavioral intervention, Myers suggested using incentives such as gift cards that might cover gas costs.

“Even though testing should be done routinely, you’re not worried about testing when you’re worried about your next meal,” Myers said.

In addition to testing, the focus will be on using evidence-based interventions designed to create behavior changes using techniques that have proven successful with gay men.

Myers said he will need to triple the size of his staff to nine and add more office space to operate the grant. He has already looked at two properties on MLK Boulevard near Abounding Prosperity’s current office.

Myers said that he would like to collaborate with Dallas County and other AIDS organizations’ programs to reach the most underserved populations.

He specifically mentioned Resource Center Dallas’ syphilis elimination program as an obvious partner.

“Syphilis is off the charts in Dallas,” Myers said. “And if you’re putting yourself at risk for syphilis, you’re putting yourself at risk for HIV.”

But, Myers said, his ultimate goal is to do the job of education and prevention so well that he can put Abounding Propserity out of business.

“I want to eradicate AIDS,” he said.

Ryan White funds

In addition, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $1.89 billion in grants to states for HIV/AIDS care and medications. Texas was awarded $85,856,474 in Ryan White money designated “supplemental part B.”

The state also received $786,424 in AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Emergency Relief Awards.

ADAP funding matches money spent by the state. Texas cut its ADAP funding, which may be a reason smaller states are receiving more money. Georgia and Louisiana each were awarded $3 million and Florida almost $7 million in emergency drug assistance money.

Dallas will receive $14,625,082 and Fort Worth $3,864,274 in Ryan White Part A funding. Dallas awards are administered for the region by the county. Other cities in Texas receiving these grants are Houston ($19.7 million), San Antonio and Austin ($4.4 million each).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Congress raises debt ceiling, avoids default

But agreement on spending cuts without more revenue splits Dems, worries LGBT and AIDS groups

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service

lisakeen@mac.com

The U.S. Senate gave final Congressional approval Tuesday, Aug. 2, to a bill raising the nation’s current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by $2 trillion. But the bill also calls for $2 trillion in federal spending cuts, that worries LGBT and AIDS organizations concerned about the survival of safety nets and programs of specific interest to the LGBT community.

“When I hear these numbers, I worry what it will mean for the social services safety net all over the nation, including LGBT organizations that are serving the most needy in our community,” said Lorri Jean, executive director of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the largest LGBT community center in the country.

“And when I hear talk of striking a deal that includes no new taxes, at a time when taxes are already at their lowest, it seems clear that poor and vulnerable Americans of all sexual orientations and gender identities are being sacrificed,” Jean said.

That has been the reaction of many to the debt ceiling agreement this week, including two of the four openly gay members of Congress.

The final agreement, called the Budget Control Act of 2011, raises the nation’s debt ceiling enough to enable the government to borrow the money it needs to pay its obligations through 2012. But it also requires the government to cut its deficit by that same amount — $2.1 trillion — over the next 10 years.

The legislation also places caps on discretionary spending and allows “adjustments” to those caps only for “emergency appropriations, appropriations for the global war on terrorism and appropriations for major disasters.”

Funding to fight bullying in schools, to prosecute hate-motivated crimes or to increase research to fight breast cancer or AIDS would not seem to fall in the categories allowing for adjustments.

The legislation does not specify where the cuts are to occur but rather sets up a special 12-member bipartisan joint Congressional committee to propose them. If that committee fails to identify cuts of at least $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23, then a “trigger” kicks in and across-the-board cuts are made in all programs to the tune of $1.5 trillion.

Various political analysts say the legislation is addressing the immediate, urgent need to fund the government. The debt ceiling issue has been an urgent focus of Congress and the White House for the past several weeks, with a looming threat that the government might not be able to send out checks to Social Security recipients, military personnel and creditors.

“Our country was literally on the verge of a disaster,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Tuesday, just before the Senate voted 74 to 26 on the measure.

The president signed the measure into law within hours.

But many political analysts this week were also saying the agreement’s proposed cuts in spending could stall economic recovery from the three-year-old recession. Among other things, the cuts will likely mean no efforts to relieve the 9.2 percent unemployment rate and it will mean reduced federal funding to already-strapped state and local budgets.

Although treated as a routine procedure by previous administrations — including that of Republican President George W. Bush — raising the ceiling on how much the nation can borrow to pay for its expenses became a volatile political struggle for Democratic President Barack Obama.

Republicans have largely pushed for cuts in spending, while Democrats have largely pushed for increasing revenues. Most analysts say the agreement — which identifies no increased revenues — is largely a political victory for Tea Party Republicans whose mantra is “Taxed Enough Already.”

Sen. Reid criticized Tea Party members, saying their insistence on no new taxes — also referred to as revenues — was “disconcerting.”

“The richest of the rich have contributed nothing to this,” said Reid. “The burden of what has taken place is on the middle class and the poor.”

Even the four openly gay members of the House were split on the agreement this week. Veteran Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., voted no, and newcomer Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and David Cicilline, D-R.I., voted yes.

Baldwin issued a statement saying the bill amounts to playing “political games” that “threaten to set back our fragile economic recovery.” While the bill needs to lower the deficit, said Baldwin, it also needs to create jobs and protect the middle class “through shared sacrifice.”

Frank said he opposed the bill primarily because it did not include cuts in war spending. As for harm to funding for LGBT-related concerns, Frank said funding to enforce hate crimes and bullying programs is relatively small and unlikely to be affected, but he said cuts would hurt funding for bigger expenditures, such as research to fight breast cancer.

Cicilline issued a statement following his vote for the agreement, saying he did so “to prevent a first-ever default on our nation’s obligations, and to avoid the very real potential of an economic catastrophe.”
“To be clear,” added Cicilline, “there’s a lot about this bill I don’t like, but my prerequisite for voting in favor of this bill was that we avoid a default and we protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, which this bill does.

“There’s no question that the single biggest job killer for our country would have been a default,” said Cicilline. “In the coming months Congress must build off of this compromise legislation to pursue a balanced approach to reduce our nation’s debt and redouble our focus on putting people back to work.”

AIDS United, a coalition of hundreds of local groups working to help people with HIV and AIDS, says the agreement is not a balanced approach and does “little to remove the cloud of potential, devastating funding cuts to non-defense domestic programs, including HIV-related programs, funding to implement health care reform, and low-income safety net programs.”

AIDS United said it fears programs for people with HIV “could be affected adversely by the harsh spending caps in FY 2012 and following years.”

And groups serving LGBT youth are worried, too.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLESN), said she thinks it’s too early to know the specific impact.

But “there is no doubt,” she said, “that the hard spending caps created by the agreement will have a serious impact on K-12 education and youth services, effecting all LGBT youth in this country.

“Advocates for youth, LGBT and otherwise, will need to be extremely vigilant about the emerging details of the initial cuts and the further reductions to spending to be recommended by the Congressional panel,” said Byard. “As a member of the National Collaboration for Youth, the America’s Promise Alliance, and the Whole Child Initiative of ASCD, GLSEN will continue to advocate for LGBT youth in the context of protecting the interests of all children in on-going budget debates.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the national gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans, credited Republican leaders with setting “a clear goal” and refusing to give President Obama “a blank check” for spending.

But he added, “Nobody should believe that this is more than a stopgap measure.”

“The culture of spending in Washington must fundamentally change going forward,” said Cooper. “This is only the first step in a course that will dramatically alter how our government approaches the budget and will provide fiscal stability for Wall Street and Main Street.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force warned last year that deficit reduction measures would almost certainly mean “key safety-net programs [would] be caught in the political crossfire….”

The Human Rights Campaign had no comment on the debt ceiling bill by deadline.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Black Tie Dinner co-chairs announce sponsor, raffle car

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Nan Arnold and Chris Couvelis, co-chairs for the 30th annual Black Tie Dinner in November, this week announced that GameStop has once again signed on as presenting sponsor for the annual fundraising event, and that Park Place Motorcars Dallas has agreed to donate a new Mercedes C300 S coupe to be raffled off at the dinner.

“This is really good news,” said Arnold, this year’s senior co-chair, adding that both deals were finalized earlier than usual this year.

“Chris and I and Maggie McQuown, our director of development, met with the people from GameStop back in mid-January, and they confirmed right then that they wanted to come back as our presenting sponsor,” Arnold said, explaining that being presenting sponsor means giving the Black Tie board $100,000 in cash to use to pay expenses in staging the dinner.

“That’s really good news for our beneficiaries, too. Because that means that’s $100,000 more that will be returned to the beneficiaries,” Arnold said.

GameStop has been presenting sponsor for Black Tie for three consecutive years, and has donated to the event long than that.

Officials with Park Place also committed to providing a car for the annual raffle earlier than usual this year, too, Couvelis said.

“It’s not just a brand new car, it’s a brand new Mercedes model,” he said. “It will be the 2012 model, and it is so new we haven’t even seen any photos of it yet. It’s all still under wraps. It won’t even be available to buy until October.”

Black Tie board members, volunteers and beneficiaries sell a limited number of tickets, for $100 each, for the car raffle each year to help boost the dinner’s income. Arnold said that tickets for this year’s raffle for the new Mercedes model are already available.

Each year, proceeds from Black Tie dinner are divided between the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and as many as 20 local LGBT or HIV/AIDS organizations and agencies. Beneficiary applications for the 2011 dinner are available on the Black Tie Dinner website (BlackTie.org), and the application deadline is Feb. 25. The list of this year’s designated beneficiaries will be announced March 30.

But Arnold said the board will likely be making another announcement — the theme for the annual fundraiser — even sooner than that.

“This will be our 30th year, and we are working hard to make it really special,” said Arnold, as first-year co-chair Couvelis added he is “thrilled” to have the chance to head up the board that organizes the dinner, giving credit to Arnold for her hard work and leadership as the board’s second-year co-chair.

But Arnold was quick to spread the credit around: “It’s a team effort. Chris is doing a great job, and we have a wonderful board that is already working hard to make this year’s dinner a success.”

The 2011 Black Tie Dinner will be held Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Sheraton Dallas hotel.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

Razzle Dazzle Dallas announces launch of new event website

Organizers of the newly revived Razzle Dazzle Dallas have announced the launch of a new RDD website, where interested individuals can keep up with the latest news on the event, set for June 1-5, and register to become RDD volunteers or corporate sponsors.

The 2011 Razzle Dazzle Dallas will benefit eight local LGBT or HIV/AIDS organizations: Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Dallas Legal Hospice.

The new website is at RazzleDazzleDallas.org. For more information, e-mail info@razzledazzledallas.org or call 214-450-8238.

Oak Cliff UU Church holding special ‘It Gets Better’ service, video filming

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff will present a special service Sunday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. in honor of the “It Gets Better” Project, started in response to the suicides of LGBT teens who had been bullied and harassed, and all those who stand against hatred and intolerance.

After the services on both Feb. 13 and Feb. 20, the church invites the community to share “It Gets Better” stories, which will be recorded, edited and posted online.

Go online to ItGetsBetter.org for information on the It Gets Better Project, and to OakCliffUU.org for information on and directions to the church. Interested individuals can also call Jan Brubaker at 214-907-9812 for information.

Bloomin’ Ball Launch Party set for Feb. 16 in private home

The 2011 Bloomin’ Ball Launch Party will be held Wednesday, Feb. 16 at a private home. The $10 suggested donation at the door includes complimentary light hors d’oeuvres, wine and valet parking.

The annual Bloomin’ Ball benefits AIDS Interfaith Network. For more information or to RSVP, contact Gretchen G. Kelly at 214-943-4444.

Researcher at UNT looking for participants for relationship study

The Center for Psychosocial Health Research from the University of North Texas is conducting a study of health and conflict within the LGBT population and is looking for LGBT individuals over 18 and fluent in English who have experienced conflict in a same-sex relationship.

Those who complete the survey will receive $20. For information on participating, email cphprojectheart@gmail.com or call 940-891-6844.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

LSR Journal: Riding to meet the challenge, personal and charitable

Stacy McKinney Team Dallas Voice

Stacy McKinney
Stacy McKinney

Last January I started running, and I really enjoyed it. So for my 40th birthday, I decided to challenge myself and train for a half marathon. Within a few months of training with the Dallas Running Club, I ran the Heels and Hills and Him Half Marathon.

But since I wasn’t finished challenging myself, I decided to set myself the new goal of running a marathon. In December 2009, I completed the White Rock Marathon. It was an amazing experience.

But after completing my first marathon, I was looking for a way to change up my work out and do something different. So, I bought a bike and completed a duathlon.

Even though it was difficult, I fell in love with the bike. I decided right then and there to challenge myself to do even more. A few months later, a group of friends talked me into riding the MS150.

Riding for a cause gave me so much motivation.

A few months after that, I completed my first Sprint Distance Triathlon. Recently I joined Go3Sports Triathlon Team and have four more races coming up this year.

Normally, I ride three days per week, run several times a week, and swim daily. As you can see, I am a very active person who loves to challenge herself.

What you should also know about me is that I not only love participating in these sports and races, I love coming up with costumes for my races. It is all about having fun.

For years, I have played volleyball with DIVA, the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, and participated in DIVA’s fundraising efforts for AIDS organizations. And it was friend I play volleyball with that told me about the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

He told me that when he rode in 2009, he had such a great experience and met lots of new friends. When I heard this, I got really excited because I love to meet new people and make friends.

So, I was like, “Sign me up!”

I joined Team Dallas Voice and started telling everyone about the ride. I actually convinced a few friends to join me. We just started training, but I have loved every moment of it so far.

What I’ve learned over this past year is that you can push your body to the limit as long as you stay focused and positive. I have a great support system with my husband, daughter and many, many friends, and they are the ones helping me stay focused and positive.

I am very passionate about riding with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS this year. Several of my friends are HIV-positive, and if I can raise money to help them just by riding 150 miles on my bike, then I am so happy to do it!

I am so excited to be a part of the ride this year and can’t wait to make tons of new friends and make a difference for people with HIV/AIDS.

You can make new friends and make a difference at the same time, too. Sign up to ride or crew, or make a donation to someone who is riding or crewing. It will take all of us working together to meet this challenge.

Stacy McKinney is a member of Team Dallas Voice. You can contribute to her or to any other Lone Star Ride participant online at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas