Red Party Foundation Kickoff Party at BJ’s

The Red Party Foundation Kick-Off Party at BJ’s NXS on April 21 raised an estimated $4,000, according to J.T. Williams, co-founder of the organization. The money will go straight to the Red Party Foundation, which was formed earlier this year as a 501(c)(3) by Williams and Jared Pearce. Last week’s fundraiser was the first of several leading up to the annual Red Party in September benefiting the Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage. “I was pleasantly surprised at how well the underwear auction went,” Williams said. “James Deets and John Rieger were the big bidders, both bidding $200-plus for a pair of Candid Underwear that was worn at the time by BJ’s bartenders and dancers.” The Red Party Foundation’s website, at www.RedPartyDallas.com, is under construction by Clint Thomson of Celeratec, who is donating his services.

Photos by Chuck Dube/MarceloMedia

—  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

Legacy holds 2 fundraising events in December

Leslie Jordan

On Sunday, Dec. 12, the annual Christmas Stocking Auction benefiting Legacy Counseling Center takes place at the Round-Up Saloon.

Executive Director Melissa Grove said there are always great prices for a variety of Christmas gift items included in the stockings.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and the auction begins at 6 p.m. On Saturday night, preview the stockings in the Parlor. Items include restaurant gift certificates, sports tickets, electronics, hotel packages and more.

Then on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m., Leslie Jordan presents his “Church Revival” also benefiting Legacy.

The revival takes place at the Sara Ellen & Samuel Weisfeld Center in downtown Dallas. Tickets are $100, but follow this link and get a 60 percent discount.

Grove said sponsor tickets are still available. Sponsors will enjoy a covered-dish, old-fashioned, church dinner with Jordan.

Legacy Counseling Center provides affordable, quality mental health care and emotional support services to men and women challenged with HIV or AIDS with individual, group and family counseling by licensed professionals. They also operate Legacy Founders Cottage, a seven-room special-care facility in Oak Cliff.

So why weren’t these events in this week’s paper? We’ll just blame Melissa for forgetting to tell us.

—  David Taffet

F.A.C.E. offers HIV-positive a shoulder to lean on

HIV/AIDS support group at Cathedral of Hope celebrates its 1st anniversary with a World AIDS Day event that includes Quilt panels

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Todd Faulk

A year ago, Todd Faulk created an HIV/AIDS support group as part of the Cathedral of Hope outreach ministries. But it’s not a Bible study, and it’s not a religious group.

Faulk notes that he’s not a licensed counselor, and he’s not a pastor. The group is there to help people living with HIV feel better about themselves.

Still, Faulk said, he felt — and he had heard others say — that as the largest LGBT church in the area, Cathedral of Hope should offer an HIV support group.

Such groups were more common in the early 1990s, before drugs that helped control the virus became available. But Faulk saw a need. He said people had questions, especially young people.

When Faulk volunteered to become the face of the group, he turned that word into an acronym for Faith, Acceptance, Caring, Educate.

He said that the goal was support and information, not fellowship, so before calling the first meeting, he looked for some curriculum. He couldn’t find any, so he turned to area professionals.

Faulk knew Legacy Counseling Center Executive Director Melissa Grove because he turned to Legacy when he was first diagnosed a dozen years ago. So he approached her, and Grove provided him with a number of topics for meetings and referred a number of people to the group.

“They’ve done a fantastic job,” said Grove said of F.A.C.E. “Any person going to the group would be welcomed with open arms.”

She said that while Legacy provides individual counseling and therapeutic groups, and other AIDS service organizations offer other services, F.A.C.E.  fills a void.

“A support group doesn’t need to be led by a licensed professional,” she said.

Grove raved about the job Faulk has done. Before the group began, she worked with him on facilitating skills and how to create a safe environment.

“If a leader can’t do that, people won’t talk,” she said.

She said it was important for Faulk to recognize when someone might need something more than a support group, and over the past year they have referred people back and forth from her therapy to his support.

Dr. Nick Bellos and his nurse practitioner, Stephanie Shoemaker, usually attend two sessions a month to answer medical questions.

“We’re there in case people have questions about their drugs,” said Bellos.

He said they especially discuss side effects.

“We tell folks what’s out there and available,” he said.

Bellos also provides information about clinical trials in the area. Recently he gave the group information on life expectancies and co-morbidities, discussing HIV-related diabetes and hypertension.

His job isn’t diagnosing at the group, but if Bellos hears something that sounds like it needs to be examined, he sends the group member to his doctor.

Bellos complimented Faulk on the way he runs the group.

“He does a great job keeping the group on track,” Bellos said. “He makes sure everyone has an opportunity to speak.”

Faulk said some people attend a few meetings, get what they need from the group and move on. Others have become regulars. And while the goal is to help people with HIV live better lives, the death of one member soon after F.A.C.E.  formed reminded everyone of how serious HIV can be.

“He developed spinal meningitis and died in less than a week,” Faulk said. “His family didn’t even know he was positive.”

That left the man’s partner with the job of explaining the illness to the family.

Since then, that member’s mother has attended, first for support after her son’s death and then to help others come out to their families as HIV-positive and, when necessary, as gay.

Other parents have participated to get information and to support their HIV-positive sons. Parents from out of town have attended and left with confidence that their child was getting the support needed, Faulk said.

In addition to coming out and medical issues, Faulk said group members have dealt with a variety of other related topics, like “eating habits, how the food you’re eating affects your medication.”

Faulk said someone might mention that he has a reaction when he eats a particular food. And another group member will say he has noticed a similar reaction.

“I call that the ‘me, too’ factor,” said Grove. “It’s very important in decreasing isolation.”

Faulk said those sort of things are important because living with HIV requires a lifestyle change. He said he learned in the group that regular antacids block the body from properly absorbing HIV medications. He said his doctor gave him something to use instead.

“We talked about a recent study that showed that cocaine actually increases the amount of HIV in the body by lowering the immune system,” Faulk said.

Other topics have included acceptance, setting goals, the importance of physical activity, positive thinking and getting away from a “woe is me” feeling.

World AIDS Day marks the one-year anniversary of F.A.C.E., as well as the 10th anniversary of the John Thomas Bell Tower. F.A.C.E. helped coordinate the World AIDS Day event at the Cathedral.

The Rev. Paul Tucker, who was the Cathedral’s first AIDS chaplain, will lead the service. He is now a pastor at All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis.

The Turtle Creek Chorale will perform.

Panels from the quilt will be on display in the International Peace Chapel and HIV testing coordinated with Resource Center Dallas will be available throughout the day.

Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Dec. 1 at 7:15 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Donations

RIDE TO THE BANK  |  Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS on Sunday Oct. 24, distributed proceeds from the 10th annual ride, held in September, to AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services Dallas and Resource Center Dallas during a party at Salum. The $150,000 check was 50 percent higher than last year’s check. Pictured from left are LSR Event Manager David Minehart, AOC Executive Director Allan Gould, LSR Event Chair Laura Kerr, ASD President and CEO Don Maison, and RCD Executive Director Cece Cox. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
RIDE TO THE BANK | Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS on Sunday Oct. 24, distributed proceeds from the 10th annual ride, held in September, to AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services Dallas and Resource Center Dallas during a party at Salum. The $150,000 check was 50 percent higher than last year’s check. Pictured from left are LSR Event Manager David Minehart, AOC Executive Director Allan Gould, LSR Event Chair Laura Kerr, ASD President and CEO Don Maison, and RCD Executive Director Cece Cox. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
SEEING RED (AND GREEN)  |  Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats presented a check for $7,525 to Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage at Dish on Wednesday, Oct. 27. They raised the money at the second annual Red Party. Pictured, from left, are Legacy board chair Steve Weir, Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove, DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce and DSYD Treasurer J.T. Williams.
SEEING RED (AND GREEN) | Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats presented a check for $7,525 to Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage at Dish on Wednesday, Oct. 27. They raised the money at the second annual Red Party. Pictured, from left, are Legacy board chair Steve Weir, Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove, DSYD Secretary Jared Pearce and DSYD Treasurer J.T. Williams.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Local briefs • 09.17.10

2nd annual Great Gatsby party benefiting AIN is Sept. 26

AIDS Interfaith Network presents the second annual “Great Gatsby … Get Your Flap On” fundraising party on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Union Station, 400 S. Houston St. in downtown Dallas.

Tickets are $75, available online at AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org. Proceeds benefit the client service programs at AIN. Those persons who get their Roaring ’20s attire for the party at Norcostco or Gratitude can receive a 10 percent discount on costume rentals.

Stonewall Young Democrats to hold Red Party benefiting Legacy

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats will hold their second annual Red Party on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. at ilume to raise money for Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage.

Bartenders from Bar 10 will be serving. Tickets for the Red Party are $10 and available at the door. VIP tickets for a catered party are $30, available on line at LegacyCounseling.org.

Sharon St. Cyr Fund holding Hear Our Pride benefit party

The Sharon St. Cyr Fund will hold the Hear Our Pride event to benefit Hearing from the Heart on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel at Love Field. The fund raises money to buy hearing aids for the hearing impaired.

Last year’s Mr. International Leather Jeffrey Payne of Dallas and this year’s titleholder, Tyler McCormick, will attend. Comedian Paul J. Williams will entertain.

Tickets for the event are $45 and available on line at SSCFund.com. Dinner and entertainment are included.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

RICH’S MIXTAPE

Perhaps some of these Pride parade entrants will consider these tunes

Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin

Kudos to Pride parade floats for making the event fab. But how likely will we hear the obvious trash disco or Lady Gaga blaring from speakers as they trickle down the road to Lee Park? Way likely. In this mixtape edition, I created my fantasy parade soundtrack for some of the floats and entrants this year. Otherwise, be prepared for “We Are Family” heading your way.

“I’m a Rainbow” – Donna Summer: OK, it’s a ballad and maybe obvious, but it sounds like just what Resource Center Dallas is all about. Plus, a drag queen could kill this on a float.

“Stand By Your Man” – Lyle Lovett: His cover isn’t cheeky by any means, but would speak volumes for the Round-Up Saloon’s walk down. Although I was torn between this and Toby Keith’s “Shoulda Been a Cowboy.”

“Sex (I’m a …)” – Berlin: Personally, I love the brazenness of Adult New Releases’ ads. I only imagine they’d be the same way in public.

“Not Myself Tonight” – Christina Aguilera: As the men transform into the divas of the Rose Room, I can see this running through their heads. Why not “sing” it out loud?

“Young Americans” – David Bowie: Youth First Texas keeps growing into an important part of the LGBT community. And you know, the children are our future.

“La Bomba” – Ricky Martin, pictured: Maybe it’s cliche to go with Latin music for our gay Latin clubs, but this song is a party all by itself. Crowds will rumba as this floats down.

“Another Piece of Meat” – Scorpions: Heavy metal has its place in the parade if this accompanies a visit to Club Dallas. What? They have weekly cookouts. Get your mind out of the gutter.

“Id Engager” – Of Montreal: Legacy Counseling Center could throw a little Freud our way and be totally hip about it.

“Teeth” — Lady Gaga. After her impromptu concert at the Round-Up Saloon, she had to be here — if only for Floss.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Pride: Legacy Counseling Center turns 21

Not just any birthday

Legacy Counseling Center, perhaps Dallas’ most underappreciated HIV/AIDS service provider, celebrates its 21st birthday tonight with “Legacy is Legal,” its largest annual fundraiser. The event features silent and live auctions, entertainment and, of course, food. This is one Pride week event you’ll be extra-proud to be part of. Tickets are available online or at the door.

DEETS: Monica’s Aca y Alla, 2914 Main St. 7 p.m. $35. LegacyCounseling.org/upcoming-events

—  Rich Lopez