POZ Magazine founder to speak in Arlington

Sean.Strub.small

Sean Strub

Sean Strub — founder and advisory editor of POZ Magazine, executive director of the Sero Project and author of Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival — will speak Aug. 21 in the Rooftop Gallery at Arlington Museum of Art, 201 W. Main St. in Arlington, at an event benefiting AIDS Outreach Center.

The event is presented by Friends of AOC. A $75 donation to AOC is requested of those attending, and tickets are available here.

Strub, a long-time activist and writer, has been HIV-positive for more than 33 years. He was publisher and executive editor of POZ from 1994-2004. Sero Project, for which he is executive director, is a network of people with HIV fighting for freedom from stigma and injustice. He is also treasurer of the U.S. Caucus of PWHA Organizations, and he served on the board of directors of the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS from 2009-2012, and as co-chair of its North American affiliate from 2011-2012.

—  Tammye Nash

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

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

Gould resigns as AOC executive director

Allan Gould

Allan Gould resigned as executive director of AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth effective Sept. 1.

“Although it is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I make this decision, it is, as they say, time for me to move on,” Gould wrote on his Facebook page.

Gould was on hand earlier this month to help dedicate the new Magic Johnson Medical Clinic operated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation that operates in conjunction with AOC and shares space with the Tarrant County AIDS service organization.

“Now, there is little challenge left outside daily operations and oversight of programs and I feel my job is done,” Gould wrote.

He did not announce what he would be doing next.

—  David Taffet

Grand opening today for Magic Johnson Clinic at FW’s AIDS Outreach Center

Executive Director Allan Gould at AOC

AIDS Outreach Center, Tarrant County’s largest AIDS services provider, will host a grand opening for its new Magic Johnson Clinic at 6 p.m. today.

The clinic is at AOC’s office at 400 N. Beach St. in Fort Worth. Also opening is a new pharmacy to provide medications needed by clients.

AOC partnered with Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open the clinic. AHF is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the U.S. They operate 10 clinics in California, six in Florida, two in Washington, D.C., and one in Georgia. This is the first in Texas and the sixth designated as a “Magic Johnson” center.

AHC’s Condom Nation 18-wheeler has been in the DFW area through the weekend providing HIV testing and distributing condoms. It will also be at the opening this evening.

—  David Taffet

Visit Genghis Grill today to help AOC

As lunchtime rolls around, think about how tasty stir fry is when the proceeds go toward a good cause.

If you’re in Fort Worth today or feel like taking a long lunch, head over to the Genghis Grill at 4469 Bryant Irvin Road in Cowtown.

Orders for dine-in and take out from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. will have 20 percent of the proceeds donated to AIDS Outreach Center.

Just mention AOC when you check out and the percentage will be donated to the organization. You can also order online.

 

—  Anna Waugh

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

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

Help kick off AOC’s 2011 AIDS Walk

The AIDS Outreach Center in Tarrant County marks its 25th anniversary this year, and one of the first celebrations will be the agency’s 19th annual AIDS Walk on Sunday, April 23.

You can read more about the history of AOC and plans for this year’s AIDS Walk in the Friday issue of Dallas Voice, but you can get a head start on the walk by going to the kick-off party Thursday night, Feb. 17, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Tommy’s Hamburger Grill, 5228 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. Tommy’s — who have, I have heard, some of if not the best burgers in Cowtown — will be providing free beer and burgers for the event. And walk coordinator Penny Rowell — along with other AOC staff members and walk organizing committee members — will be there with all the information you need to get involved and get walking to raise money for AOC.

Rowell said she will be working the party to get folks interested in being AIDS Walk team captains by helping out with ideas for recruiting team members and raising funds. (Of course, I figure they had most people at “free burgers and beer.”)

—  admin

AOC BEGINS GROUP FOR SERODISCORDANT COUPLES

FORT WORTH — AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County begins its “Magnetic Couples Group” for serodiscordant — or mixed serostatus — same-sex couples on Friday, Oct. 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Allen Gould, the center’s executive director, explained that serodiscordant couples face all the same issues and problems that all couples face, but serodiscordant couples also must deal with additional issues, such as worries that the HIV-positive partner might infect the HIV-negative partner. And both partners in a mixed serostatus couple have to deal with the side effects of the medications the positive partner has to take.

Concerns about health and health disparities can cause feelings of resentment and can strain the relationship, Gould said, sometimes causing a “serious lack of balance” between partners.

AIDS Outreach Center’s “Magnetic Couples Group” is intended to help serodiscordant couples address those issues in a safe and confidential environment. The group will give couples the chance to talk about health, finances, guilt, communication, sexual intimacy and more.

The group will meet every Friday for six weeks, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at AIDS Outreach Center, 400 North Beach St. in Fort Worth. For more information call Bill or Ashley at 817-916-5291.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas