Tarrant AIDS agencies take a hit

AOC faced with nearly $300,000 in funding cuts as client load increases; Planning Council trying to track funds from defunct ARRT

Allan Gould

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Tarrant County largest AIDS service organization has found itself facing nearly $300,000 in federal funding cuts as it prepares to start its 2011-2012 fiscal year. And the area as a whole, while not seeing cuts as deep as had been feared, will be seeing fewer federal dollars than before.

Cuts at AOC
Tarrant County AIDS Outreach Center Executive Director Allan Gould said this week that his agency had been told in March that even though AOC was at that time receiving only part of the Ryan White Part A funds for which it had been approved, “we were told to go ahead and spend based on last year’s budget, and that we would get level funding [equal to the previous year] through Ryan White.”

But last week, Gould said, “six months into it, we found out that there would be some substantial cuts. That’s when we realized there is about $290,000 that we were expecting that we won’t be getting.”

And that, Gould said, is in addition to some $300,000 the agency had already known was being cut.

“We are adapting the budget, and we will survive. But it’s tough,” Gould said. “We are looking at what we’re doing, looking at what we feel are the absolute necessities and what areas can take the financial hit.

“Our fiscal year [started Thursday, Sept. 1] and we had a solid budget. Now we are having to reconfigure our budget and start over. We already knew we had to cut $300,000, and we did that. We had a solid budget. Now we have to cut another nearly $300,000,” he said. “It’s really going to hurt. We have been able to go back and balance our budget. But I can’t remember any time when we have had to try and do so much with so little.”

Under the reconfigured budget, Gould said that the agency’s case management programs would be cut by 40 percent, going from seven case managers to four. The three positions being lost will be cut through attrition, he said.

Despite the fact that proper nutrition has been proven to be pivotal in maintaining optimum health for people with HIV/AIDS, AOC is being forced to cut its nutritional therapy program by 50 percent, Gould said.

“Despite how important it is to the clients’ good health, nutritional therapy is not considered medically necessary,” he said.

AOC’s other programs, Gould added, are taking a 12 percent cut across the board.

At the same time funding is being slashed, Gould said, AOC has been taking on more and more new clients as other AIDS service organizations in the area have been forced to close.
“Over the last two years, we have absorbed quite a few new clients from other agencies,” he said, pointing to the Tarrant County AIDS Interfaith Network, which closed in 2009, to the Catholic Charities’ decision to end its Lady Hogan Project and to the closure last month of AIDS Resources of Rural Texas, which had offices in Weatherford and Abilene.

Jamie Schield

AIDS Outreach folded the TCAIN clients into its programs in 2009, taking over the network’s primary program, the Geisel-Morris Dental Clinic for people with HIV/AIDS. AOC also absorbed some of the Lady Hogan Project clients, and Gould said at least some of the ARRT clients have turned to AIDS Outreach for help as well.

He explained that when AOC took over TCAIN in 2009, “at the same time we were approached by ARRT about taking over their services in Weatherford and Abilene, too. But we were not in a position to be able to do that at the time.”

Although talks between the two agencies continued, Gould said, AOC officials had recently told those at ARRT that AOC probably would not be able to assume the other agency’s programs any time soon.

But since ARRT closed its doors at the end of August, Gould acknowledged, AIDS Outreach has been left with no choice other than to try and find ways to help those ARRT clients now left without resources.

“We immediately absorbed about 150 clients from ARRT’s Weatherford office,” Gould said, “on top of the 85 or so from the Lady Hogan Project and the 300 or 400 from TCAIN. We had about 1,600 clients before. Now we have around 2,000.

“That was a huge jump for us to make [in client load], and we only got a little extra money from those other agencies. We were able to make it work, but just barely. But with these recent cuts in federal funding, it’s going to be much more difficult,” he said. “There will be instances, I am afraid, when someone comes to us for help, and we are just going to have to say no.”

Gould acknowledged that he wasn’t surprised to see federal funds cut again, but he was surprised by how deep the cuts were.

“I am still in shock that they expect the programs to continue operating at current levels. It’s an almost surreal atmosphere,” he said. “We are constantly being asked to do more for more people, but do it with less funding and less manpower. And we have to do it under continual threats of even more cuts.”

Although he is “dismayed and frustrated” by the cuts — and by the level of political infighting and negativity he sees coming from Congress today — Gould said AIDS Outreach will continue to provide services to the HIV/AIDS community.

“The bottom line is, this is reality, and we are going to have to work with what we have. We have to be diligent in our expectations of help from the federal government, and we have to be prepared about what our next steps are,” he said.

“But we will not go away. And we won’t change our mission just to chase the dollars. We are prepared to make the adjustments we have to make to remain viable for the long run.”

N. Central TX HIV Planning Council

The closing of ARRT is also causing some headaches over at the North Central Texas HIV Planning Council, which allocates federal and state funding in Tarrant, Parker, Hood and Johnson counties.

Although the cuts there were not as drastic as had been expected, “it’s still a decrease in funds for the area,” Planning Council Coordinator Jamie Schield said.

“It’s not as bad as we thought. Originally, we thought we were looking at about $520,000 in cuts. But it turned out to be just $185,000” in Ryan White Part A funds, Schield said.

“And this is the first year that the federal government has given us the money in five different parts. It makes it hard for planning, hard for the agencies to work and to get the contracts out,” Schield added. “I guess they had some problems in Washington. The money is just not out yet.”

Schield and Planning Council HIV Grants Manager Margie Drake this week explained federal funding dispersed through the Ryan White HIV Treatment Modernization ACT — previously the Ryan White CARE Act — is divided into Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D funds.

Part A funds come directly from the federal government to the Planning Council to be dispersed among local AIDS service agencies. Part B funds go from the federal government to the state government and then to the Planning Council.

Part C funds are focused on medical treatment, and Part D funds are focused on women, children and youth with HIV/AIDS.

HOPWA funds are focused on housing people with HIV/AIDS.

The council also disperses money from the state to HIV/AIDS services, Drake said.

“All these categories have lots of overlap, but there are different amounts, different reporting requirements and different disbursement rules,” Drake said. “Tarrant County is one of the few places in the nation that actually has a planning council, and that gives us more knowledge, more control to make sure we are not duplicating services. It lets us focus the money where it’s needed most.”

However, the $395,000 in Part C funds that went to ARRT’s Weatherford and Abilene offices were not under the council’s control, and Schield said his agency is now left wondering what will happen to those funds.

“They got $395,000 total for the two service areas, and they got about half of that up front,” Schield said. “Now that ARRT has closed its doors, we don’t know what the feds are doing with the remainder of those funds that had been allocated for the current year. We want to apply for those Part C funds in the future, and the Tarrant County Commissioners [on Wednesday] gave us permission to do that.”

The problem is, Tarrant County is likely to be faced now with former ARRT clients seeking the services they lost, and money to provide those services is in short supply.

“We definitely think that there will be clients coming here [to Tarrant County] looking for help, especially those clients that went to ARRT’s Weatherford office,” Drake said.

“We can only serve maybe a third of those clients with the money we have. We don’t know what the federal government is going to do with [ARRT’s remaining Part C funds], and we’ve got clients right now that need care. We are doing the best we can to put a bandage on the situation and make sure no client goes without the services they have to have.”

Schield added, “Coordination of services and funding is really pretty good out here. We do that well. But the problem now is that we need to keep the money here where it’s needed.

“Our biggest thing now is to keep that [ARRT Part C] money here in the community. It’s a very urgent issue on our end to get some answers from the federal government about where that money is going, so we can plan on our end to make sure our clients here get what they need,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

BUSINESS: New app offers safety in numbers

RIDE SAFE | Cyclists in the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS each year peddle through some pretty isolated stretches of road. This year, MobileTREC is equipping each rider with the SafeTREC application and service to give them an added layer of security on the road. MobileTREC is also donating $1 from every SafeTREC subscription to Lone Star Ride. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

SafeTREC service now partnering with Lone Star Ride; adds a layer of security to life, company officials say

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

We all know what happens when you find yourself in an emergency situation at your home, and you pick up your landline to call 9-11 for help: The 9-11 operators can use their system to determine your exact location and send help, even if you aren’t able to tell them where you are.

But what happens if you, like many people these days, use your cell phone as your home phone instead of having a landline? What happens if you are in your car, or perhaps walking or cycling?

Those locations can’t be wired into the 9-11 system, and the best emergency operators can do is triangulate your location to within a three-, six- or nine-mile radius, depending on the circumstances. And when minutes count, that might not be good enough.

That’s the problem that the people at MobileTREC were trying to solve when they came up with their SafeTREC and SafeKidZone applications for smart phones, according to Martin Lobe, MobileTREC’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Users download the MobileTREC app they want to their smart phone and then pay a $9.95 per month subscription fee to use the service. Lobe said the company is also working to finalize a family plan for $19.95 a month that he hopes will be available within the next month.

To use the service, he explained, users designate a specific button on their phone as the “panic button,” and in case of emergency, they push that button and the MobileTREC operators contact the appropriate responders. And the MobileTREC apps marry with the phone’s GPS signal to send responders to the user’s exact location, Lobe said.

Lobe said the applications and MobileTREC’s subscription services can give users an added layer of security and some options that you don’t get with 9-11.

With the SafeKidZone app, children can punch the panic button and that activates a whole community of responders — friends and family as well as police and fire — to come to their aid.

Lobe explained that users establish a network of contacts among family and friends, and if a child needs help, the SafeKidZone program sends an immediate text and email to the established “safety network” as well as to the company’s 24-hour Response Call Center. Then the child, the “safety network” members and the Call Center are linked through a live conference call.

That lets everyone know what the child’s situation is, allowing the closest family member or friend to respond immediately or if necessary, the Call Center personnel will notify 9-11 to send police or fire, giving them the child’s exact location.

SafeTREC is the same sort of application and service, only geared for adults, such as college students, senior citizens, business travelers or those on vacation.

“Think about someone, an adult, who may have some sort of disability or illness, and they fall in their home and can’t get up. They don’t need medical attention, but if 9-11 sends an ambulance, they have to pay for that. With SafeTREC, they push the panic button and the system sends someone in their safety network over to help them up,” Lobe said.

“I have gay friends, and when I started looking into it, doing some research, I realized just how often gay bashings are happening, and how sometimes gay people are not getting the proper protection from police in some instances. And I knew that our service is something that could be very, very helpful to gay people,” Lobe said. “We want to let the LGBT community know that this is available, that they are not alone.”

The service is also perfect, Lobe said, for sports enthusiasts — like cyclists or runners — who might find themselves out on the road and suddenly in need of help. And that, he added, makes a partnership between MobileTREC and Lone Star Ride Fightings AIDS a perfect match.

MobileTREC CEO Don Ferguson explained that his company will be equipping every Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS rider with the SafeTREC service, and will also donate $1 from every subscription to LSRFA.

The two-day Lone Star Ride, scheduled this year for Sept. 24-25, raises money for three AIDS service organizations — AIDS Services of Dallas, AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County and Resource Center Dallas.

“I can see the Lone Star Ride is a worthwhile event where people are getting together to help others, and I am excited for SafeTREC to become a part of it,” Ferguson said.

And helping people help each other, he added, is one of the goals of the company.

“Our system is designed not only to protect people when they are in danger but also to build a safety network so people are automatically looking out for each other,” Ferguson said. “Man is not an island. We survive better together, and that is what we are doing at SafeTREC. We are creating a community of people looking out for each other.”

For more information, go online to MobileTREC.com

—  John Wright

AOC holds ‘Evening of Hope’

CELEBRATING | Sandy Lanier, center, co-founder of AIDS Outreach Center’s Sandy Lanier Nutrition Center, was on hand along with AOC Executive Director Allan Gould Jr., right, and AOC Director of Development Jim Downing for the agency’s second annual Evening of Hope Gala.

2nd annual gala marks Tarrant County ASO’s 25th anniversary

FROM STAFF REPORTS
editor@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — AIDS Outreach Center continued its 25th anniversary celebration in June with the second annual Evening of Hope Gala, held June 25 at Ridglea Country Club.

The event featured Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Michael Skipper as keynote speaker, along with NBC 5 news anchor Scott Friedman as host. Sandy Lanier, cofounder of AOC’s Sandy Lanier Nutrition Center, was honorary chair, and Michael Cinatl was event chair.

The evening began with a VIP reception, followed by an open reception and a silent auction, then dinner, a live auction and dancing.

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould Jr. said that as the country marks the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS, AOC is, after 25 years, celebrating its transition from its initial purpose of providing end-of-life services to those with AIDS to today’s mission of “giving those with HIV/AIDS a promising future, with hope through ongoing scientific advancements.”

“As long as we continue to find individuals who test positive for HIV, we will remain resolute in our mission,” Gould said. “AIDS Outreach Center will grow and transform itself to be at the forefront of testing, outreach, prevention and education to halt the spread of HIV. We will be steadfast in delivering the compassionate care and essential services to those already infected/affected. We are here as long as there is a need!”

AOC is the only 501(c)(3) organization in Fort Worth serving Tarrant County and seven surrounding rural counties, offering prevention, education and outreach programs and comprehensive direct HIV support services to men, women, children, and their families.

AIDS Outreach Center also advocates for a strong and sound HIV public policy.

—  John Wright

AIDS at 30: North Texas ASO info

AIDS service organizations in North Texas offer a variety of programs and services to people with HIV/AIDS — from case management, to meals, to housing. Here is a list of the major ASOs in North Texas, what programs and services they offer now, and what they plan to offer in the future:

• AIDS ARMS
351 West Jefferson Blvd. Suite 300
Dallas 75208; 214-521-5191
Founded: 1986
What they do: HIV testing and prevention, long term risk reduction intervention, community outreach and education, client eligibility and intake, case management, outpatient medical care, medication assistance, medical case management, substance abuse and mental health treatment and support, prison outreach and community re-entry, support groups, client education.
What’s new and upcoming: In May, AIDS Arms broke ground on their second clinic that should open by the end of the summer. In addition to providing health services for persons with HIV not currently accessing medical care, the new facility will have resource rooms to bring the services of a variety of agencies under one roof.
A new pharmacy will open in the facility to provide the medications needed by clients.
Research will take place at the new clinic including looking into new PrEP treatments for persons with HIV.

• AIDS Interfaith Network
501 N. Stemmons, Suite 200
Dallas TX 75207; 214-941-7696
Founded: 1986
What they do: Outreach, linguistic services, HIV prevention and prevention for minority women, client advocacy, transportation services, The Daire Center adult daycare, meals program, volunteer services, pastoral services.
What’s new and upcoming: Programmatically, Executive Director Steven Pace said the agency would like to shift more resources to prevention. Pace put together a coalition of four agencies — AIN, ASD, Legacy and Legal Hospice of Texas — that plan to locate in one building. The Coalition for HIV/AIDS Services, as the multi-tenant non-profit center will be known, is negotiating for a building in North Oak Cliff and hope to begin renovation in 2012. The new building would eliminate leasing, allow the agencies to pool some services and equipment and provide one-stop shopping for clients.

• AIDS Outreach Center
400 North Beach Street
Fort Worth 76111
817-335-1994
Founded: 1986
What they do: The Sandy Lanier Nutrition Center, Geisel-Morris Dental Clinic, medical case management and mental health counseling programs.
What’s new and upcoming: Two years ago, AOC began offering more direct medical services with its dental clinic. Over the next two to three years, Executive Director Allen Gould said his agency would like to add more direct medical services including a clinic and a pharmacy to meet all of the needs of clients in one central location. He said they are determining whether to partner or build on their own to provide the services that would compliment what’s being done at the public hospitals.

• AIDS Service Dallas
P.O. Box 4338
Dallas 75208
214-941-0523
Founded: 1985 as the People With AIDS Coalition
What they do: Housing. ASD operates four apartment complexes to serve 225 men, women and children in 125 privately configured apartments.
What’s new and upcoming: ASD partners with Community Housing Development Organization developers to create models of senior housing throughout North Texas. As a consultant/co-developer, ASD receives incentive fees, which is unrestricted money that goes toward AIDS programs. The agency already owns three lots behind Hillcrest House. ASD President and CEO Don Maison said that they’re working on zoning so they can develop the property. With 350 people on the waiting list for housing, Maison said he hopes to develop additional housing in Oak Cliff and elsewhere in the city.

• Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation
P.O. Box 225104
Dallas, Texas 75222
Phone: 214-239-9145
Founded: 2008
What they do: Bring support, health and medicine to people living with HIV/AIDS in the form of help with COBRA payment assistance, medication payment assistance, bus passes, rent, utility and emergency assistance.
What’s new and upcoming: “We’re a new agency, so we’re securing more funding to do more of what we’re already doing,” said Anthony Chisom. In the fall, the agency hopes to be able to include cell phone bills in its utility assistance program. This fall, Chisom is taking an exploratory trip to Malawi with hope to open a clinic there and is looking for partners to help make that happen.

• A Sister’s Gift
1515 N. Town East Blvd. #138-380
Mesquite 75150
214-421-4274
Founded: 2003
What they do: Services for women with HIV including testing, counseling and group sessions, short-term emergency assistance, case management, buddy program, education programs.
What’s new and upcoming: “Being a seven-year-old agency, our primary agency objectives center around introducing the community and stakeholders to our female-based service structure — being apparent females living with HIV need a different type of support than what was provided 30 years ago,” said Executive Director and CEO Cheryl Lewis Edwards. “Our long-term strategic plan hopes that ASG can serve as a catalyst for the community, clients and families to talk about HIV with the same ease the public now speaks about breast cancer.”

• Health Services of North Texas
4210 Mesa Drive
Denton, Texas 76207
940-381-1501
Founded: 1988 as AIDS Services of North Texas
What they do: With offices in Denton, Plano and Greenville, HSNT serves a five-county area including Rockwall and Kaufman Counties and areas of Dallas north of LBJ Freeway. HSNT provides a variety of services from HIV testing to transportation, primary health care services, food pantry, insurance assistance and case management.
What’s new and upcoming: The agency is focusing on becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center and expanding in the direction of providing primary health care to low-income people while continuing a special focus on persons with HIV.

• Legal Hospice of Texas
3626 N. Hall, Suite 820
Dallas 75219
214-521-6622
Founded: in 1989 as Dallas Legal Hospice
What they do: Legal services for low-income persons diagnosed with terminal illnesses or HIV disease.
What’s new and upcoming: Executive Director Roger Wedell said that as people live longer, the cases his agency handles become more complex. Founded to do simple estate planning, Legal Hospice now works on complex long-term disability and employment issues that may take months to resolve. He said he thought that trend will continue.

• Legacy Counseling Center
4024 McKinney Ave., Suite 102
Dallas 75204
214-520-6308
Founded: 1991
What they do: Mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and special care housing services for people challenged with HIV and AIDS.
What’s new and upcoming: Executive Director Melissa Grove said that Legacy has had 1100 percent growth over the last decade. The agency is looking for new therapists, especially gay male therapists, to meet the need. Legacy is also planning to expand its women’s programs so that women from around the state can attend its retreats. Fewer terminal patients stay at Legacy Cottage that once exclusively did hospice care. More people are at a crucial moment of their illness who are integrated back into a productive life.

• Resource Center Dallas
3701 Reagan St.
Dallas 75219
Founded: in 1983 as the Foundation for
Human Understanding
What they do: Operate the AIDS Resource Center, Nelson Tebedo Clinic, AIDS Food Pantry as well as the Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
What’s new and upcoming: Currently RCD is expanding dental programs and has a capital campaign to build new community center on land already purchased that is adjacent to Cathedral of Hope on the corner of Inwood and Cedar Springs Roads. The Center will bring all of its programs under one roof and continue to provide additional meeting space and services for community groups. Executive Director Cece Cox said that over the next few years, the agency is looking to expand a number of health programs to the general LGBT community that are now funded only for people with HIV and a new major focus will be general wellness programs.

• Samaritan House
929 Hemphill St.
Fort Worth 76104
817-332-6410
Founded: 1991
What they do: Housing and resources for persons living with HIV/AIDS and other special needs in Fort Worth.
What’s new and upcoming: After being refused a zoning variance last year for an additional property, Samaritan House recently began a collaboration with another non-profit to operate 184 units of quality, affordable housing for low-income individuals and families. Over the next few years, President and CEO Steve Dutton said that he hopes to provide additional housing for people with HIV/AIDS.

—  John Wright

LOCAL BRIEFS: National HIV Testing Day; TDWCC to mark Gay Pride Month

GAIN sets June Social

On Thursday, June 23, GAIN will meet at 6:30 p.m. at Naga Thai Kitchen & Bar, 665 High Market Street in Victory Park. The event is free. Barbara Bach from Resounding Harmony is the special guest. GAIN is a program of Resource Center Dallas for learning, entertainment and social activities for mature members of the LGBT community. This will be the group’s last social before the summer break.

AIN competing for a free Toyota

AIDS Interfaith Network is one of 500 finalists in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program. The company will award vehicles to 100 nonprofit organizations based on votes from the public. Voting began last month and continues through July 10.

Voting is done on Toyota’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/Toyota. Supporters are encouraged to go to online and vote for AIN. Visitors to the page can vote once a day.

On the Border gives to AIDS Arms

The Knox Street location of On The Border is participating in a “Give Back Day” on Wednesday, June 22, in which a portion of the proceeds of the day’s sales will be donated to AIDS Arms.
Diners who tell their servers they are there for “Give Back Day” will have a percentage of the cost of their meal will be donated to the agency. Landon Starnes, a member of the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk Team and a volunteer with AIDS Arms, coordinated the event.

On the Border on Knox Street is a sponsor of LifeWalk.

National HIV Testing Day

National HIV/AIDS Testing Day is June 27. Texas is fourth in the nation in the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area has the largest number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in the state.

AIDS Outreach Center, in collaboration with the National Association of People With AIDS — Mayors Campaign Against HIV, will provide free and confidential testing for HIV/syphilis on Friday, June 24, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Miramonte Apartments, 2800 Las Vegas Trail, Fort Worth.

Individuals who test on this day will receive a free ticket for food and an upcoming Hip-Hop Concert. On Monday, June 27, AIDS Outreach Center will again provide free and confidential testing for HIV/syphilis at Fort Worth City Hall, 1100 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For more information, contact John Reed at AIDS Outreach Center by phone at 817-335-1994, ext. 245.

TDWCC to mark Gay Pride Month

The next general meeting of Texas Democratic Women of Collin County will be Monday June 27, at 6:45 p.m. at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, 9700 Wade Blvd. in  Frisco, Building L, Room L135.

The June meeting is being held in a different room than usual. But as always, there will be refreshments and time to socialize.

In honor of Gay Pride Month, TDWCC will host a panel on LGBT issues featuring some of the leaders of the movement in North Texas and moderated by Jeanne Rubin. The panel will include Equality Texas board member Elizabeth Lopez, Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance co-founder Dawnetta Miller, Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County President Lisa Thomas and Community Unity Respect Education co-founder Rosemarie Odom.

Meetings are open to the public. For more information go online TDWCC.org.

—  John Wright

Missing inaction

FAMILY GATHERING | Jamie Boeglin, seated center in white, loved to be part of family gatherings and was especially adamant about her family celebrating her birthday, says her brother John. The fact that Jamie’s 48th birthday passed last July with no word from her to her family heightens John’s fears that Jamie met with foul play. (Photo courtesy John Boeglin)

Jamie Boeglin lived on the fringes of society, and now that she has been missing for a year, her family fears they have lost her forever

RELATED STORY: Recording the injustice

ANDREA GRIMES | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Jamie Boeglin lived in Fort Worth, but she didn’t really have any kind of permanent home to go missing from.

Sometimes she crashed at her brother’s house on the west side or squatted in an abandoned house. She’d spend a night at a shelter here or there, or just sleep on the street.

Many times, she could have listed her address as a jail cell after she’d been picked up for shoplifting or fighting.

Jamie Boeglin did have one place she could reliably be found — the AIDS Outreach Center where she went to refill her medicine.

There, she’d chat up the case workers and get her upcoming medical and mental health appointments in order. She might miss a few of those — could be jail time, could be she’d landed in the hospital — but she always, always came back to seek help from the folks at the AOC.

Except this month, it’ll have been one year since Jamie Boeglin picked up her medication.

No one — not her family, not her doctors, not her counselors — has seen her since May 18, 2010.

Her brother, John Boeglin, says he knows Jamie could be unreliable. But not this unreliable.

“We’ve not heard anything,” says John Boeglin, who along with his four other siblings in North Texas and New Mexico, has been trying to understand how and why their relentlessly “attention-seeking” Jamie dropped off their radar a year ago.

To the Boeglins, however, Jamie is “Jimmy,” their brother, who was born James Martin but began transitioning toward living as a woman in 2008.

Though most people came to know her as Jamie, John Boeglin finds it hard to call his missing sibling anything but Jimmy.

“He’s just always been our brother,” says Boeglin, and despite the family’s many ups and downs dealing with Jamie Boeglin’s homelessness and addiction problems over the years, they’re desperate to find out whether Jamie has run away or if, as John puts it, she’s “a pile of bones under a bush somewhere.”

Even as John Boeglin distributes flyers to area shelters and cruises in vain down Fort Worth’s blighted Lancaster Avenue, looking for any sign of his missing sibling, he knows in his heart that Jamie isn’t the kind of person who’d intentionally go very long without trying to get someone’s attention.

To make things worse, John fears his sibling may have been a victim of anti-transgender violence.

“What if he’s been hauled off by someone who doesn’t like transvestites or transsexuals or transgenders?” John wonders. But he’s so far been unsuccessful in convincing the Fort Worth Police Department that harm may have come to Jamie.

Because they’ve found no clear evidence of foul play, a representative at FWPD says there’s little they can do when an adult does not want to be found.

“We have no reason to suspect foul play,” Fort Worth’s LGBT Community Liason Officer Sara Straten tells the Dallas Voice. As best they can tell, says Straten, Boeglin left town “of her own volition,” based on their detectives’ investigation.

Because Boeglin is listed as a missing person, if she were to be arrested or stopped by police for anything at all, the Fort Worth Police Department would be notified.

“If she’s out there, we’re going to hear about it,” Straten says.

But that’s precisely one of the reasons John Boeglin believes Jamie’s disappearance isn’t voluntary: His sibling has a real habit of running afoul of the law.

In just the first few months of 2010 alone, Jamie Boeglin was cited by Fort Worth police as the victim in a drunken fight that landed her in the hospital with 19 reconstructive pins in her skull. Then, she was arrested for criminal trespass in May, a little more than a week before she was last seen at the AIDS Outreach Center.

In fact, even when the police weren’t involved, it was always some kind of drama with Jamie, remembers her brother — especially around her birthday and on holidays.

John didn’t hear from Jamie last July, which would have been her 48th birthday, and when it comes to holidays, John says Jamie never misses an opportunity for “raising a big stink” about presents and get-togethers.

“Unless he is amnesiac or dead, then there is really no reason that he would not be trying to contact us on a regular basis,” John insists.

But as annoying and dramatic as he says Jamie could be, the most frustrating part of all for John is knowing that, in fact, there is information out there that could help him find out if Jamie is dead or alive. He just can’t access it.

Because of governmental restrictions, John cannot find out whether Jamie’s Social Security debit card has been used in the past year. To do so would require a court order — something he can’t get as long as the police consider Jamie to be absent of her own volition.

If John just had that debit card information, he says, he’d know if his sibling were alright — angry, perhaps, and estranged, but at least alive and well.

“At least we’d know he’s alive and doesn’t want to be contacted,” says John, who says he wouldn’t even care to know where the card has been used — just that it has been. “That’s probably the most frustrating thing.”

But pain and frustration are recurring characters in Jamie Boeglin’s life story.

While homelessness, substance abuse and other catastrophic life events can happen to anyone, transgender people especially lack the help and resources they need from law enforcement, social services and medical professionals. A survey on discrimination against transgender people (See Sidebar) released earlier this year by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force details just how maddeningly common Jamie Boeglin’s situation is.

According to the study, “Injustice At Every Turn,” transgender people are nearly twice as likely to be homeless than is estimated for the general U.S. population, which correlates with the fact that they are also very likely to be incarcerated or suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.

And when it comes to HIV, says Mara Keisling, executive director of the NCTE, transgender people have a “hugely disproportional” infection rate — four times the national average — due in large part to economic marginalization.

“[Jamie] has got to feel fairly discarded by society,” says Keisling, whose her research has made her a difficult person to shock when it comes to stories like Jamie’s. The possibilities Keisling sees for Jamie are many — and none are very positive.

“She’s more likely to be disrespected by the medical community and law enforcement,” says Keisling, which could prevent her from getting help in a crisis.

Keisling added that it’s “fairly common” for transgender people to be victims of violent criminals who “often will look for the most marginalized people.”

These kinds of possibilities weigh on John Boeglin’s mind, especially because he admits that over the years, he’s wished Jamie would stop being such a nuisance in the family.

“He’s done something to alienate every one of the siblings,” says John. “But when it’s like this, we want him to be around.”

Even their tumultuous family life hasn’t broken the bond of blood, and John dwells on the times he and his siblings wished for Jamie to leave them alone: “For a long time we really wished he would disappear, and now he has. We wish we’d never had those moments of thought.”

—  John Wright

LSR starts season with record number of riders

Jerry Calumn at the LSR kick-off party on Sunday.

Lone Star Ride kicked off its new season with a party on the ninth floor of the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District in Downtown Dallas on Sunday afternoon. More people are registered for LSR’s 11th annual ride Sept. 24-25 than ever before at this point in the season.

Previous riders were offered half-off registration fees if they brought a new rider who registered for this year’s event.

At the kickoff party, about 115 people registered to ride, bringing the total to 134. In addition, 48 people have committed to serve as volunteer crew members.

Jerry Calumn, the new ride director, said that he expects cumulative donations to beneficiaries this year to surpass the $2 million mark since LSR was founded in 2001.

Calumn said he thinks a number of crew members from previous years signed up this week to be riders.

“There was a great energy,” he said.

He plans to continue that energy with a number of events in addition to the training rides. Several events are planned for Fort Worth as well. On June 1, they will have happy hour and sign up riders at The Garage at The Pour House, 2725 W. 7th St.

Calumn worked at Resource Center Dallas during the 1990s. RCD is one of the event beneficiaries along with AIDS Services of Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County. More pics from the kickoff party below.

—  David Taffet

Making a better world, one step at a time

John Boeglin

John Boeglin repays the help he gets as a client at AOC by also being a volunteer at the agency

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — John Boeglin, first diagnosed with AIDS in 1989, has been a client of Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center off and on since 1991.

But Boeglin doesn’t just go to the center for help for himself; he helps others in turn by volunteering at AOC. And he has taken his volunteerism a step forward by looking for — and finding — ways to help the agency go a little more green.

“I have volunteered in different parts of AIDS Outreach, and I had volunteered in the food pantry for about four years when I started thinking that there was a real need for us to start incorporating recycling into all of our events,” Boeglin said.

So he took the initiative of coordinating with the city to get recycle bins at the agency and has been leading AOC’s recycling efforts in the three years since then.

“It’s not very profitable. But at least we are helping the environment. We can now take all the cardboard and plastic and aluminum that comes through here and recycle it, instead of having it all end up in a landfill somewhere,” he said.

He added, “I have always been cautious about my own carbon footprint, about the impact I have on the environment. I was always riding a bicycle everywhere. I didn’t even have a car until my father passed away.”

Boeglin has also been a big supporter of AOC’s annual AIDS Walk, both as a walker and as a volunteer who helps set up on the day of the event, and then take everything down and put it away when it’s over.

“I’m usually there from the first thing in the morning until that night when it’s all done,” he said. “And I have walked in the AIDS Walk for at least 10 years now.”

Boeglin said he volunteers with and walks in the AIDS Walk, now in its 19th year, because “it helps earn money to pay for the services that we need. And with all the cuts the government has made since 2000, that money has become a real necessity.

“This agency probably wouldn’t make it without the money from the AIDS Walk,” he continued. “Because of all the changes made by the previous administration [under President George W. Bush], people can’t even get on disability now. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to make it without the programs at AIDS Outreach Center.”

Boeglin said he first started doing volunteer work “primarily because there wasn’t a lot else to do. Those of us who were diagnosed in the 1980s and early ’90s, we found out we were sick and so we started planning for the end of our lives. Then all of a sudden, we realized we weren’t dying.

“So we tried to go back to work, but we either couldn’t get jobs at all, or we couldn’t get jobs that would actually pay the bills,” he said. “So we found ourselves sitting around our apartments with nothing to do. That’s how it happened with me. So I started volunteering.”

Boeglin said he volunteered with the Healing Wings program at JPS Hospital and then later at AIDS Outreach when the program moved. He has also volunteered with Q Cinema and has been involved with Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. He has been politically active as well, once getting a scholarship that allowed him to fly to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress on behalf of the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.

He said he has lobbied the Texas Legislature on HIV and LGBT related issues, too.

“Sometimes, you can get a little burned out when you stay in one place, doing one thing for too long. So I avoid the burnout by going from one place to another,” Boeglin said. “After I had volunteered at the food pantry [at AOC] for several years, it started to get really difficult. When you start losing so many people, it gets hard. You come in and even though you know they’re gone, you keep looking for them, keep waiting to see them. It’s hard.”

That was one reason, he said, that he chose to work with Q Cinema. “I needed to do things that let me see more people that are affected by HIV instead only seeing people who are infected with HIV. I needed that change of pace,” he explained.

Boeglin has a lot of hobbies, too, that help keep him busy and healthy. He is a writer and an artist and works in wood crafting. He also likes to attend Scarborough Faire and sci-fi conventions, and will be volunteering at an upcoming convention here in North Texas.

Boeglin said his interest in sci-fi conventions grew out of a fascination with science and with space that began when he was a child and sat with his grandfather to watch as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

“Did you know that it was protease inhibitors developed during experiments on the space shuttle that led to the use of the ‘drug cocktails’ in the 1995 that have helped people with AIDS live better and longer?” Boeglin asks. “They were able to grow these protein crystals large enough in space with zero gravity to be able to see how they would affect how HIV is able to enter cells. And millions of us are alive today because of those experiments they did on the space shuttle in 1995.”

While some people may joke about the sci fi convention fans and the separate world they sometimes seem to live in, Boeglin sees a kind of nobility in that world that gives him hope for a better future in this one.

“The conventions and the fans, there’s a very, very good sense of community there, just like there is here at AIDS Outreach,” Boeglin said. “It makes me believe that someday that altruistic future [of the sci-fi world] may really someday come true, because people care enough to be here, to be at the AIDS Walk and participate in it — the ones who don’t have to be there, but are there anyway, and the ones who struggle to be there and make a difference. It gives me hope.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Black Tie announces 2011 beneficiaries

From Staff Reports

The board of the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that 18 local organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation have been named as beneficiaries of the 2011 Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at Sheraton Dallas hotel.

This will be the 30th anniversary of the fundraising event.

The 18 local beneficiaries are:

• AIDS Arms
• AIDS Interfaith Network
• AIDS Outreach Center
• AIDS Resources Rural Texas
• AIDS Services Dallas
• Celebration Community Church
• Congregation Beth El Binah
• Equality Texas Foundation
• Health Services North Texas
• Lambda Legal
• Legacy Counseling
• Legal Hospice
• Northaven UMC
• Resource Center Dallas
• The Women’s Chorus
• Turtle Creek Chorale
• White Rock Friends
• Youth First Texas

In a statement released Thursday, Black Tie Co-Chair Nan Arnold said Black Tie is “thrilled” to be able to help support the beneficiary organizations, adding that “thanks to the … great work that they do, men and women are living longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.”

Arnold explained that beneficiary applications are reviewed by the 24 active members of the Black Tie board and advisory members. They validate services each applicant organization provides, along with the organization’s stability and strategic plan.

Ron Hill, chair of the Black Tie Community Relations Committee said the process is “enlightening,” allowing board members to “understand the purpose of these vital organizations. It’s interesting to see the short and long-term goals they have established to sustain and increase the services they provide.”

Since it began in 1982, Black Tie Dinner has distributed more than $15 million to local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign Fund. For more information go online to BlackTie.org or call 972-865-2239.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Lone Star Ride training begins; 2 councilwomen receive scholarships to Velo-City conference

Lone Star Ride 2010
Lone Star Ride 2010

The Lone Star Ride held its first training ride of the year this weekend. A group of about a dozen cyclists met at the Oak Cliff Bike Shop in Bishop Arts and headed out on a 40-mile ride toward Lakewood and back.

LSR is held the last weekend in September and covers about 150 miles over two days. The ride raises money for Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas and the AIDS Outreach Center.

Meanwhile, the group Bike Friendly Oak Cliff announced that Dallas City Councilwomen Delia Jasso and Pauline Medrano received scholarships to attend this week’s Velo-City Conference in Seville, Spain. Only 10 city council members nationwide received full scholarships to attend.

Who knows, maybe Jasso and Medrano can be convinced to ride in this year’s Lone Star Ride.

And speaking of biking in Oak Cliff, getting a parking space in Bishop Arts on a Saturday morning is getting difficult. Oh, plenty of car parking. But the bike racks in front of Oddfellows — the new coffee shop that took Vitto’s old space — fill up fast.

 

—  David Taffet