AIDS Walk South Dallas raises over $20K

 

—  Steve Ramos

21st annual Tarrant County AIDS Walk steps off Saturday at Trinity Park

Walk-picture-2011

AIDS Outreach Center hopes to earn $100,000 at the Tarrant County’s 21st annual AIDS Walk and Fun Run.

The event begins at 8 a.m. on March 30 at the northern end of Trinity Park at Stayton and 7th streets in Fort Worth with warm-up exercises, yoga, vendors and entertainment. Runners will begin at 9:30 a.m. and walkers at 9:45 a.m.

Registration is $30, which includes a commemorative T-shirt. Dog and pet registration is $10.

Donations may be made online or may be mailed to AIDS Outreach Center, 400 North Beach St., Ste. 100, Fort Worth, Texas, 76111.

AOC serves Tarrant County and seven surrounding counties with a nutrition center, dental clinic, counseling and case management. An AIDS Healthcare Foundation clinic is attached to its main office.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: AIDS Walk South Dallas draws more than 200

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The reorganized AIDS Walk South Dallas attracted 201 walkers on Saturday. The event attracted 17 sponsors and 24 vendors that distributed information about services available around the community. HIV testing was available at the staging grounds at St. Philips School.

“With its new sponsor C.U.R.E., AIDS Walk South Dallas was a great success,” event Chair Auntjuan Wiley said.

He estimated the walk raised $10,000 and said final figures would be available within 30 days. Donations to the walk may still be made by sending a check to C.U.R.E., 3941 Legacy Dr. #204, PMB 199A, Plano, TX 755023.

Before the walk, Zach Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, and Otis Harris, Deciding Moments national campaign spokesman, spoke.

Thompson talked about getting churches and schoosl in black areas to talk about HIV and prevention. He quoted stats including Dallas County’s ranking as having the highest HIV transmission rate.

Beneficiaries of the walk are AIDS Interfaith Network and Kidscapes Foundation.

Organizing for next year’s walk begins in June. Wiley said next year, he’d like to see more pre-walk events. An opening party the night before the walk at House of Blues raised $500.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

AOC kicks off 21st Tarrant County AIDS Walk with a casino party

AIDS Outreach Center‘s 21st annual Tarrant County AIDS Walk and Fun Run will be held Saturday, March 30, from 8 a.m. to noon in Trinity Park. Sign-in takes place at the Trinity Park Pavilion at 7th Street in Fort Worth.

A casino night kick-off party will be Feb. 8 at the Hilton Fort Worth, 815 Main Street, beginning at 7 p.m.

Volunteers for the walk and fun run are needed for set-up, water stations, path monitors, kids area, registration, food, vendor check-in and clean-up.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Mary Scales by email or at 817-296-0597.

In the eight counties served by AOC, more than 4,500 people are known to be living with HIV/AIDS. Estimates are that 20 percent more in the area are infected and do not know.

AOC was founded in 1986 by volunteers to help people with AIDS in Fort Worth deal with end-of-life issues. Today AOC stands as the largest AIDS social service organization in Tarrant County in the fight against AIDS.

Last year, the agency partnered with AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open a medical clinic at its facility.

—  David Taffet

Queer locals of 2011

As we crown our local LGBT Person of the Year on the front page, over here in Life+Style we’ve been thinking about the locals who we will forever relate to helping define 2011 from the standpoint of entertainment and culture. Here are the ones who made the year memorable.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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Chisom-Spillman

Anthony Chisom
activist, left

Derrick Spillman,
activist, right
In a short time, these two have made waves across the local LGBT African-American community. Chisom erased lines of gay and straight to focus on Dallasites with his foundation’s inaugural South Dallas AIDS Walk, which raised more than $10,000 in March. Spillman’s work with the DFW Pride Movement  stepped up Dallas Black Pride. With marquee speakers and a schedule of both educational and got entertaining sessions, The Movement the rep it’s been working for.

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3-Ferrell-CMYK

Joel Ferrell
theater queen
Whether producing Arsenic and Old Lace or directing two of the best shows of the year, Ferrell has been a force in Dallas theater since joining the DTC as an associate artist, and the community is richer for his vision and tireless work as a director, choreographer and all-around talent.

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4-Moore-Foley-copy

Linda Moore &
Laurie Foley
dog lovers
Moore and her partner Foley are devoted dog breeders, and in 2011 their cocker Beckham stormed Westminster, and ended the year as the top dog of any breed, anywhere, in America. Wow.

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5-Santos-copy

Charles Santos
task master
As executive director of TITAS, Santos is used to bringing talent to Texas, but it was his inspired idea of celebrating AIDS at 30 with A Gathering that reminded locals of his devotion to AIDS fundraising.

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6-Trimble-CMYK

Mark Trimble
bear-ish fundraiser
Trimble and the guys of BearDance came into their own this year with their dance party nights. The highlight was the TBRU party, and with three events during 2011, BearDance raised an impressive $22,000-plus for area charities.

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7-Ezelle-7804-High-Res-CMYK

Leslie Ezelle
cancer survivor/TV star
Just weeks after completing chemotherapy, Ezelle landed on TV’s Next Design Star. She didn’t win, but her celebrity, paired with the experience of beating breast cancer, has made her a devoted fundraiser for the
Susan G. Komen Foundation.

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8-Berryman.Dave-CMYK

David Berryman
gayborhood cheerleader
For years, Berryman has been the largely quiet behind-the- scenes guy for events like the Pride parade, but in 2011, after talks of the possible cancelation of Easter in the Park, Berryman stepped in, offering to coordinate it and obtaining the funding, literally saving Easter in the gayborhood.

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9-Lynch-Rane-CMYK

Craig Lynch & Jeff Rane
theatrical impresarios
Ten years after founding Uptown Players as an upstart theater troupe doing gay-themed work, Lynch and Rane launched the first-ever gay theater festival to coincide with Pride Week at the historic Kalita Humphreys Theater, their impressive new home. Way to go in a decade!

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10-Heinbaugh-CMYK

Chris Heinbaugh
re-committed arts lover
After years as Mayor Leppert’s right-hand man, the former actor and TV reporter left politics to return to his first love — the arts — by working with the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Randy Potts is grand marshal of OKC AIDS Walk

Randy Potts

Randy Roberts Potts will serve as grand marshal of the Oklahoma City AIDS Walk.

AIDS Walk is a 1-mile trek through Bricktown in downtown OKC on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Potts is originally from Tulsa, Okla. and is the grandson of evangelist Oral Roberts. He lived in Oklahoma City where he was an English teacher before moving to Dallas. He moved to Dallas when his ex-wife transferred to the area so he could share custody of their three children.

“Someone on their board was looking at ‘It Gets Better’ videos, saw mine, called, asked,” Potts said. “I said I’d be honored.”

Last year, Potts did an “It Gets Better” video to remember his Uncle Ronnie, Oral Roberts’ son, who was gay. Potts is a writer and performance artist. In October, he plans to stage a performance piece to show just how boring the lives of most gay people are. The piece is called “The Gay Agenda.”

Unlike the LifeWalk in Dallas that is run by AIDS Arms, an AIDS Service provider, and benefits several other AIDS service organizations, the OKC walk is independently run and solicits grant applications from area AIDS organizations. The city’s AIDS providers have until Oct. 31 to apply to become a beneficiary and money is distributed later in the year.

For those who want to participate, the walk is at Sonic Plaza in Bricktown on Reno Avenue across the street from the ballpark. Free reserved parking is available for participants. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. and the walk steps off at 2 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Abounding Prosperity promotes HIV prevention

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

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.Kirk
Kirk Myers

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.

Wilson.Phill
Phill Wilson

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.

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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.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local Briefs

S. Dallas AIDS Walk orientation set

Volunteer orientation for the South Dallas AIDS Walk takes place on March 15 at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Sanford Brown College, 1250 W. Mockingbird Lane.

The walk will be on March 19 and benefits the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation and other South Dallas AIDS service providers. Auntjuan Wiley is the event chair. To volunteer, contact Ray Jordan at 214-491-8028.

LGBT Lobby Day set in Austin

The LGBT community will gather in Austin this weekend for several conferences that culminate in lobby day at the state capitol on Monday, March 7.

Registration for lobby day begins at 7:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church Family Life Center, 1300 Lavaca St. in downtown Austin.

At 9 a.m. Equality Texas will hold a press conference on the south steps of the Capitol. Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston and the parents of suicide victim Asher Brown will speak. Brown would have celebrated his 14th birthday on March 2. Joel Burns has been added to the speakers line up. After a training session, lobbying begins at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served at the church at noon with lobbying continuing another two hours on Monday afternoon.

DBA offering free LegalLine

The Dallas Bar Association will offer two LegalLine call-in programs in March, in which volunteer attorneys will answer legal questions free of charge. The programs will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, and Wednesday, March 16.
For LegalLine assistance, call 214-220-7476 between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the designated days.

Words of Women celebration set

The 9th Annual Words of Women, a Dallas Celebration of International Womens Day, will be held at The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future, 3800 Parry at Exposition in Fair Park, on Sunday, March 13, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The event will feature the Words of Women Essay of the Year Presentation, speakers addressing issues of important to women, music and entertainment, an information table and food.

One of the main topics will be the women of Egypt.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez will attend.

Suggested admission is $10. Parking is free. For more information, call Christine Jarosz 214-319-6696 or Linda Evans at 214-660-1820, or e-mail Teresa Nguyen at teresa@redidagency.com.

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

—  John Wright

Walking to remember

FAMILY BUSINESS | One reason Kelly Smith works at the Tommy’s Hamburgers on Camp Bowie, owned by her parents, is that her job there gives her plenty of time to volunteer with AIDS Outreach Center. (Tammye Nash/DallasVoice)

For Kelly Smith, volunteering at AOC and participating in the AIDS Walk is a family affair — in more ways than 1

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

When she was growing up, Kelly Smith always thought of her uncle, Brad, as more of a brother and friend than an uncle.

“He was my dad’s only brother. He was a chef, a great cook, and when my parents opened up Tommy’s Hamburgers, he helped them out a lot,” Smith said. “He was only 10 years older than me, and I grew up hanging out with him and his friends.”

But then AIDS struck, Kelly said, “and I lost Brad. I’ve lost his partner, and I’ve lost all of his friends but one. It was devastating.”

But before he died in 1994, Brad Smith introduced his niece to Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center and the agency’s annual AIDS Walk. In the years since, the bond between Kelly and that agency has grown ever stronger, giving her an opportunity, she said, to honor the memories of her uncle and friends by helping those still living with HIV.

“I did the AIDS Walk with Brad in 1992 and 1993 before he died in 1994. Then by the mid-90s, I started getting more involved. I became a team captain and started getting other people to walk with me.”

But Kelly didn’t limit her involvement to the AIDS Walk: She joined the center’s board of directors three years ago and is now vice president of the board.

Still, the AIDS Walk holds a special place in her heart.

“It’s my passion. It’s my calling. I truly love it,” she said. “This year is my fourth year to be co-chair of the walk, and it’s going to be the best one ever.

READY, SET WALK | Participants in the 2011 AIDS Outreach Center AIDS Walk get ready to set out from the Fort Worth Community Arts Center on the 5K course. This year, the walk moves back to its roots in Trinity Park. This is Kelly Smith’s fourth year as AIDS Walk co-chair.

“My partner, Holly Edwards, works for Luke’s Locker, and now Luke’s has come on as a walk sponsor. It’s always so much fun to be part of the walk, but it’s even better now because this is something that we do together,” Kelly said.

Supporting the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities has always been something of a family affair for the Smiths, starting with her parents, who own Tommy’s Hamburgers.

They first opened the restaurant in 1983 in an old Texaco station in Lake Worth. The second location opened 19 years ago on Green Oaks, and nine years ago the third location on Camp Bowie — where Kelly usually works — opened its doors.

Tommy’s has long been a meeting place for LGBT community groups, like Stonewall Democrats of Tarrant County, and a sponsor for events like AIDS Walk.

That support obviously grew out of the family’s love and support for Brad and Kelly, but it may have been kick-started by some people’s response to news of Brad’s HIV-positive status.

“We had a lot of people back then calling and saying things like, ‘Do all of you have AIDS?’ People were so confused about AIDS, about what it was and how it was spread,” Kelly recalled.

Kelly went to college first at Texas Wesleyan then graduated from Texas Christian University. She taught school for a few years, but then decided what she really wanted to do was return to the family business. And now she is in charge of marketing and buying for Tommy’s Hamburgers.

“It’s certainly never boring around here,” Kelly said. “I love working with my family and meeting the customers. But what I really love about this job is that it gives me the time to do volunteer work at AIDS Outreach Center.”

And that volunteer work is really about family, too: “There’s a great group of people at AIDS Outreach, like a family,” Kelly said. “It’s a group of people all coming together with one goal — to get services to the people who need them.”

Right now, that group is all coming together to kick off the agency’s 25th anniversary year with a successful 19th annual AIDS Walk. And although the walk accounts for only a relatively small percentage of AIDS Outreach Center’s overall budget, Kelly said it is one of the agency’s most popular annual events.

“This is the one fundraiser we do that everyone can participate in. You can bring your children. You can bring your pets. It’s just a lot of fun for everyone,” she said.

Kelly is getting close to her own 20th anniversary with AIDS Outreach, and that’s a long time to work or volunteer in the world of AIDS — burnout is often an issue.

But not for Kelly Smith.

“Things have changed over the years,” she said. “People are more receptive to donating to the cause and being involved. But at the same time, some things haven’t changed. People are still getting infected.

“Just recently, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile,” she continued. “He told me he is positive. On the one hand, it made me feel good that he felt comfortable enough with me, that he trusted me enough to tell me something so personal. But on the other hand, it was very hard to hear that someone else I know, a friend who is such a wonderful guy, has HIV.

“I was feeling safe again, I guess. And then my friend tells me he is infected. It just drives me more, makes me want to do more and work harder,” Kelly said. “I won’t stop. I can’t stop. Until there’s a cure, I’ll never stop.”

The 19th annual AIDS Outreach Center AIDS Walk will be held Sunday, April 3, beginning at the pavilion near 7th Street in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park. The event begins at 1 p.m., and the walk steps off at 2:30 p.m. Pre-registration is $25, available online at AOC.org. Registration the day of the walk is $30 and starts at 12:30 p.m. at Luke’s Locker, 2600 W. 7th St.

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

—  John Wright

Walking into the future

READY, SET, WALK | AOC Executive Director Allan Gould and AIDS Walk Coordinator Penny Rowell are hoping this year’s fundraising walk will be the best yet. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

AOC’s 2011 AIDS Walk will kick off the agency’s 25th anniversary year

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center marks its 25th anniversary this year, and a number of events are already scheduled to celebrate. The first of those is the center’s 19th annual AIDS Walk, set for Sunday, April 3.

Walk Coordinator Penny Rowell said this week organizers are working to build this year’s walk into the biggest and best ever to help celebrate the center’s milestone anniversary.

In the beginning

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould has been involved with the center in some capacity practically since its inception in 1986 as the Fort Worth Counseling Center.

“I was working for Radio Shack then, and the folks from the counseling center came to Radio Shack and asked for help in getting the computers and phone systems and so on set up. I have been an active participant since then, either as a volunteer or a board member or an employee,” Gould said.

That first year, Gould said, the counseling center saw only nine people, but “it was the beginning of an outreach and an effort to supply something [help for people with AIDS] that was sorely lacking then in Tarrant County.”

In the beginning, the agency focused on getting volunteers — “mainly counselors and social workers and attorneys” — to offer services for people with AIDS, he said.

“Back then, there were no AIDS tests. People were only being diagnosed when it was really too late. There were no drugs to keep them alive,” Gould recalled. “I used to keep a record of all the people I knew who died of AIDS. But when the list reached 300 or so, I just stopped recording the names.

“I couldn’t do it anymore; it was just too devastating,” he said.

“It was the immediacy of that moment, of seeing people getting sick and dying so quickly, that caused our community — the GLBT community — to unite and create this organization to reach out and try and give some comfort to those who were dying all around us,” Gould continued.

“There wasn’t much we could do, other than offer them counseling and legal help to get their affairs in order. But we did what we could.”

In 1988, the center changed its name to Community Outreach Center and received its first public funding — a grant from the state that allowed the agency to hire its first actual employees, a counselor and Thomas Bruner, its first executive director. The newly-renamed center focused its efforts then on offering counseling to those with AIDS and on educating the public about the disease and how to avoid contracting it.

The name changed again in 1992 when the agency became the AIDS Outreach Center. Although today there’s nothing unusual about that name, at the time it was a controversial move.

“It was necessary to include ‘AIDS’ in the organization’s name. Including it directly addressed the needs we were trying to meet in the community and made sure people knew exactly what we were doing,” Gould said. “But at the same time, it shocked a lot of people. There was still a lot of discrimination happening, a lot of bias and bigotry against people with AIDS.

“That name change was a double-edged sword in a lot of ways,” he added. “It put us out there and made it easier for the people who needed us to find us, but at the same time, it caused a lot of people who had supported us to kind of withdraw, especially in the African-American and Hispanic communities.

“They just didn’t want to be associated with an organization that had ‘AIDS’ in its title,” he said.

Gould said that withdrawal by some previous supporters caused the agency’s donations to drop, and it took some time to rebuild the center’s funding.

Evolution

Attitudes toward the AIDS epidemic and the needs of those with HIV/AIDS have changed over the years, and so have the center’s services.

“Our mission hasn’t changed so much as it has evolved,” Gould said. “We still have the same services we started out with — although most of the legal assistance is contracted out to Legal Hospice of Texas now — but we have continued to add services.”

The center’s counseling services today are “second to none,” and the center is top on the list of agencies to which Tarrant County MHMR refers clients with HIV seeking help, Gould said.

Among the first services to be added was social and medical case management, followed by outreach, education and prevention programs.

“The Nutrition Center came next, and it grew out of the efforts of Sandy Lanier, the wife of Dr. Bob Lanier,” Gould said. “She truly believed that good nutrition was the key to good health for people with AIDS — for everybody, really — and she literally started going around to the markets and grocery stores, getting them to donate food.

“Then she would put those donations in the back of her station wagon and drive around finding people who needed the food,” Gould said. “What she was doing eventually morphed into a more structured format and finally became our food pantry, which is one of our most used programs.”

The most recent evolution came in September 2009 when Tarrant County Interfaith Network merged into AIDS Outreach Center, adding the Guisel-Morris Dental Clinic to the center’s arsenal of services.

At the same time, AOC moved from its longtime home in a cramped and dingy space in Fort Worth’s hospital district to spacious new quarters on North Beach Street.

“That merger and the move was a big drain for us,” Gould said. “We had anticipated that it would take about half a million dollars to pay for it all, and we had gotten enough pledges, enough commitments from people to cover it.

“But then the recession hit, and a lot of those pledges didn’t come through, and we found ourselves with a real cash flow problem,” he continued. About six months ago, we realized we had to make some adjustments, and we ended up laying off four employees and cutting one to half time.”

The agency was able to absorb the duties of those missing employees into other remaining positions and in doing so, realized “a huge and immediate savings of about $130,000 a year,” Gould said.

And now that the economy has begun to recover, he said, so has AOC. Since the new fiscal year began last September, Gould said, the center has seen “a much larger outreach from individual donors than in recent years,” along with a larger outreach from corporations and foundations.

So even with what is expected to be about a 6 percent cut across the board in federal and state funds looming, AOC is able to maintain its $4.5 million budget and keep offering its programs. Gould said the center now serves about 2,000 clients annually on an ongoing basis, although “not every client uses every service we offer.” Two of the most widely-used services are the dental clinic, with about 900 active clients, and the nutrition center, with about 700 clients annually.

The Walk

The goal for this year’s AIDS Walk is $110,000 to $115,000, and while that doesn’t cover a huge portion of the agency’s overall budget, the funds are important. And just as important is the opportunity the walk presents to reach a wider audience with the center’s message of awareness and prevention.

Rowell said she is encouraged by the fact volunteers helping organize the walk are coming largely from a younger generation that “is more aware of HIV and AIDS than any other generation,” and that these young people are taking the message to a new audience.

“It’s opening a dialog with a new and larger demographic,” she said.

Rowell said she is also counting on some changes in this year’s walk to help bring in a new crop of walkers and volunteers.

“We moved the walk back to Trinity Park this year” instead of starting and ending at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center with a route that circled the Botanical Gardens, she said.

This year, the walk starts at the pavilion off 7th Street, then circles through the park to I-30 and back to the pavilion. The event begins at 1 p.m., and the walk itself steps off at 2:30 p.m. Anna DeHaro, Sunday morning radio host with KEGL radio station, will emcee the walk and will have Gould as a special guest on her radio show that same day.
Cooks Children’s Hospital is sponsoring the Kids Corner with special activities for the younger participants, and the Human Society will be at the walk with pets available for adoption. There will also be vendor booths set up near the pavilion.

Pre-registration is available for $25. Registration the day of the walk will be $30, and starts at 12:30 p.m. at Luke’s Locker, located nearby at 2600 W. 7th St. Luke’s Locker, Rowell said, is a sponsor for this year’s walk and has been extremely helpful in organizing the event.

She said the store specializing in gear for runners has “done a lot of advertising for us online and at every event they have participated in recently.”

Anyone who pays a registration fee will receive an AIDS Walk T-shirt. But those who bring in at least $100 more will get a canvas tote bag and a T-shirt. Those who raise at least $250 extra get the shirt, the bag and one raffle ticket, while those who raise at least $450 get all that plus one more raffle ticket.

Items donated for the raffle range include concert and theater tickets, dinners and more. Rowell said organizers are also working with representatives from the Texas Rangers baseball team to get a raffle prize donation from the championship team.

“We’re still looking for vendors and sponsors, and anyone who is interested can call me for information,” Rowell said. She can be reached at 817-916-5224 or by e-mail at pennyr@aoc.org.

Looking ahead

Gould said this year’s AIDS Walk — as well as a May 5 open house and the June 25 “Evening of Hope” gala — are just a few of the signs of the great things to come for AIDS Outreach Center.

“We are looking at the future, looking at ways to round out our programs to take a more active role in the overall care, medically speaking, of people with HIV and AIDS in Tarrant County,” Gould said, “We are always looking at new ways to serve and grow, and there are great things to come.

“Over the last 25 years, we have made some dramatic strides forward in offering services and programs to our community,” he added, “and this agency is poised to be here well into the future.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright