A Sister’s Gift honors volunteers

Brunch recognizes the efforts of women volunteering in HIV/AIDS community

Edwards.Cheryl

Cheryl Edwards

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Sheri Crandall serves dinner at Ewing House once a month, and has been for six years. She is one of 11 women who have volunteered their time to help those living with HIV/AIDS who will be honored at brunch this weekend sponsored by A Sister’s Gift Women’s Center.

A Sister’s Gift provides resources and support for women living with HIV/AIDS. Cheryl Edwards founded the organization in memory of her brother, Ronald Lewis, who died of AIDS in 1995.

A Sister’s Gift will recognize Crandall as “Volunteer — feeding with faith.”

Crandall said she was embarrassed to be honored for simply doing the right thing. When she joined Church of the Incarnation, an Episcopal church on McKinney Avenue in Uptown, people were already involved with the AIDS Services of

Dallas supper club. She’s taken the program to heart and over the years has become friendly with some of the residents.

“Some have been there the entire time,” she said. “Others transition in and out, and others pass away.”

Crandall said that some residents have special dietary needs and the group tries to keep that in mind in preparing a meal that is as healthy as possible. But, she said, if groups didn’t continue serving meals at the facility, some people wouldn’t eat.

Rosemarie Odom will be recognized as a community advocate.

Odom co-founded C.U.R.E., a Collin County-based group that uses panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in HIV education efforts. This week, C.U.R.E. members hung 18 panels at the Anatole Hotel for the Out & Equal conference.

Odom said that she and Roseann Rosetti started C.U.R.E. because the number of HIV cases were increasing and fewer people seemed to know about it.

“People forgot about what happened in the early ’80s or didn’t know about it,” she said, adding that many people who come to see the quilt panels have never seen the quilt before.

The group has had success displaying panels in Plano and Frisco public schools and starting a discussion about HIV, Odom said, noting that, “Everyone wants to take a picture with it and touch it.”

For World AIDS Day, Odom said C.U.R.E. is planning an event in downtown Dallas with AIDS Interfaith Network. They will display panels from the quilt at the brunch.

Gretchen Kelly will be recognized at the brunch as an HIV fundraiser and volunteer patient advocate. For more than 20 years, Kelly has helped raise funds for a variety of agencies including DIFFA, AIDS Services of North Texas, Legal Hospice of

Texas, AIDS Services Dallas and AIDS Interfaith Network.

But rather than talking about herself, Kelly said Edwards should be getting the award.

“She made a promise to her brother,” she said. “She’s worked really hard to make it work. She’s dedicated her life to it.”

Edwards founded A Sister’s Gift after her brother died of AIDS to provide resources and support for women living with HIV/AIDS.

Edwards said the idea for the brunch came several years ago when she was given an award and noticed that she was the only woman being recognized.

She remembered a woman who took care of her brother when her parents were out of town and she said she knew there had to be a lot of other women whose devotion to people with HIV were not being recognized.

“Women’s needs are different from men’s,” she said.

Edwards called one of the primary services provided by A sister’s Gift “navigational counseling.”

“After many women are diagnosed with HIV, most are clueless about where to go and what to do,” she said.
Edwards said the goal is to make sure women with HIV get medical care and stay on their regimen. They provide bus passes to make sure clients can get to doctors appointments.

More than 95 percent of A Sister’s Gift’s clients live below the poverty line. So when possible, they provide grocery assistance and utility assistance.

TOP Event Center, 1508 Cadiz St. Oct. 29 at 11:30 a.m.
$20 online at ASistersGift.org.
$25 at the door.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

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.

……………………………

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

Forum set to promote HIV awareness

from staff reports

Resource Center Dallas will hold a community forum seeking input to expand awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS in an effort to battle the growing rate of HIV/AIDS in Dallas County, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the center, 2701 Reagan St.

The forum is being held in collaboration with Dallas County and other community partners. It is free and open to the public.

Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services at the center, said, “The goal is to lay groundwork for a community-driven effort that will reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to increase awareness of the services available to the public.”

He noted that a recent CDC study found that in 2008, one in five — or 19 percent of — men who have sex with men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV. Nearly half — 44 percent — were unaware of their infection.
The forum is part of the “Greater Than AIDS” project which responds to the AIDS crisis in the United States by targeting the severe and disproportionate epidemic among the gay community and African-Americans. The effort aims to raise knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS and confronts the stigma surrounding the disease.

Resource Center’s forum concentrates on gay men and will target communities most heavily affected, based on HIV/AIDS incidence and prevalence data, to ensure its success. Information gained will be used in strategic planning to reduce the number of HIV cases in the Dallas metropolitan area.

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

—  Kevin Thomas