Red Tide and Team New York Aquatics (TNYA) are two prominent New York City swim teams that jointly organize the One Hour Swim fundraising event to benefit local HIV organizations. ASC and Momentum were the beneficiaries of this year's event.
In the weeks leading up to the event, swim team members gather pledges from friends and family members. On the day of the event, each participant swims laps for one hour... without stopping! This year's participants executed this feat of endurance with the utmost grace.
Throughout the One Hour Swim, ASC staff members and volunteers were at the poolside, cheering the swimmers on and providing them with sports drinks, protein bars, and healthy snacks. ASC also had a volunteer professional masseuse on hand to provide rejuvenating body massages for the swimmers. As always, our profound appreciation and admiration goes out to all the One Hour Swim organizers, swimmers, and donors.
"I'm a survivor, living with HIV/AIDS for 20 years. I got infected through unprotected sex with my husband, who was an IV drug user. In 1989, when he was hospitalized with pneumonia, I learned he was HIV-positive. I waited three months before getting tested. I thought, ‘I don't use drugs, I'm taking care of my children, I'm the family breadwinner—this can't happen to me.' At the time, the doctors gave us both a year to live. After my husband passed away, I took some time to get my life together. I thought, ‘I made it through the year—now it's time to live my life and move on.'
"In 1992, I found ASC and participated in the second cycle of ASC's Peer Leadership Training Program. From there, I volunteered at ASC's Lower East Side satellite site and helped turn that space into ASC's Drop-in Center. My colleague Luis and I served as Peer Educators there. We took people off the street, gave them a change of clothing, fed them, and brought them to detox programs, medical appointments, and ASC's supportive services. Later, ASC re-named the Drop-in Center 'Luis and Lillian's Room' in our honor.
"In 2003, I joined ASC's Consumer Advisory Council and soon became its president. I organize the monthly meetings, prepare the agenda, make sure the minutes are done, and remind the members of the meeting schedule. If a member of the council gets sick, I visit them in the hospital or mail them get-well cards. I try to keep track of folks and stay in touch.
"ASC's council members are the voice of the other consumers; we know what we need and we share that information with the agency. But the council isn't just advising—it's active. We support the agency and help it to run more smoothly, because this is our space. At ASC, the staff and Peer Educators are compassionate and treat the clients well—they have the heart for this work. I've gone to other service organizations where consumers with HIV still face stigma and labels, but ASC is a safe space that's really there when people need it."
Lillian Cotto-Anglada is the founder of CARING HANDS for Positive Woman, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides the Harlem community with support for women of color and their children.
|Left to right: Donna Bryant (ASC), Altagracia Ng (Gouverneur), Dr. Allison Schachter, M.D. (Gouverneur), Todd Canning (Gouverneur), and Carmen Rivera (ASC)|
ASC now offers onsite medical and dental care to our clients thanks to an exciting new collaboration with Gouverneur Medical Center. Twice a week, the Gouverneur mobile medical van and dental van set up shop outside ASC's main program office on East 11th Street, offering instant access to essential health services.
"Our clients prefer the easy access afforded by the medical and dental vans," explains ASC Outreach Coordinator David Lopez. "For many, bureaucratic barriers, complicated paperwork, and the atmosphere of clinical settings are obstacles to getting the care and treatment they need. Since these individuals are more comfortable and at ease in ASC's community-based setting, we offer them the best of both worlds by using the vans as an extension of our agency."
The medical van supplements ASC's free HIV counseling and testing program by providing screening for STDs and hepatitis C, plus health consultations, check-ups, and other primary care. The dental van provides routine check-ups and cleanings for a population that often lacks access to dental services.
"Our priority at ASC is to ensure a consistent, sustained connection to medical care for people living with HIV," says Sharen Duke, ASC's Executive Director/CEO. "To facilitate that connection, we have long offered our clients expedited access to care through fast-track referral agreements with Gouverneur, Beth Israel, Bellevue, St. Vincent's, Presbyterian, and other Manhattan-based hospitals. We are delighted to take this effort one step further by adding the onsite services of Gouverneur's medical and dental vans."
"As an agency closely connected with the communities most affected by HIV," adds Duke, "ASC is ideally suited to reach these communities and help to address the multiple challenges they face, including lack of access to health care. For many people living with HIV, ASC's services are stepping-stones to medical care and other health promotion services they wouldn't otherwise access. Our fast-track referral arrangements and the new onsite van services contribute immeasurably to optimizing the health and well-being of the people we serve."
"ASC Voices" Returns To Barnes & Noble - APRIL 25, 2006
On Tuesday, April 25, ASC poets take the stage at Barnes & Noble Booksellers Union Square for an inspiring evening you won't want to miss. For the fourth year in a row, Barnes & Noble has invited ASC to be the only not-for-profit organization to participate in the store's annual celebration of National Poetry Month. The event will feature powerful readings by the members of ASC's Creative Writing Workshop. The reading starts at 6 p.m. sharp and ends at 7 p.m. Join us at Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 4th Floor for this free and fabulous event—and bring your friends! Copies of the latest issue of ASC's literary magazine, Situations will be distributed free of charge.
Join Us At ASC's Peer Graduation—MAY 15, 2006
On Monday, May 15, ASC will celebrate the men and women who have just completed the 26th cycle of ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP). The Peer Graduation will feature a keynote address from a former ASC Peer graduate, and participant testimonials of personal triumph which illuminate what "helping many, one by one" really means to us here at ASC. We hope you'll join us at this moving and memorable event!
The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. at ASC's main program office on the fifth floor of 41 East 11th Street (between University Place and Broadway, in Manhattan). RSVPs are not required but are appreciated. To RSVP or for more information, contact ASC's Assistant Director of Marketing, Ernesta Pierre, at Ernesta@ascnyc.org or at 212-645-0875, extension 314.
ASC Walks The Walk—MAY 21, 2006
ASC is gearing up for our spring tradition of joining with thousands of other concerned New Yorkers at GMHC's annual AIDS Walk New York. On Sunday, May 21, ASC's Team #0008 will again "walk the walk" to raise money and awareness in the fight against AIDS. To join ASC's team or to help our team members reach their fundraising goals, visit our team page on the AIDS Walk website. All sponsorships collected by Team #0008 will support ASC's services for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. We'll be there rain or shine, and we hope we can count on your support.
Safer Sex In The City Returns!—JUNE 14, 2006
ASC's "Safer Sex In The City" is back! On Wednesday, June 14, ASC will host our second annual fundraiser at the Museum of Sex. The festivities will include a live D.J., dancing, silent auction, and viewings of the Museum's erotic exhibitions. Details regarding ticket prices and sponsorship opportunities are coming soon. To be notified when tickets go on sale, please join our email list or visit www.safersexinthecity.org.
Members of ASC's Consumer Advisory Committee join with ASC Deputy Director Brenda Starks-Ross (who serves as Staff Liaison to the Council) and ASC Executive Director Sharen I. Duke following the committee's February meeting.Standing (L–R): Willie George, Kenny S. Stone, Sr., Brenda Starks-Ross, Tracy M. Collins, Lillian Cotto-Anglada, Ellen Richardson, Max D. Hernández, Alantheia Pena, and Sharen I. Duke. Seated (L–R): Darnell Robinson, Caryn Lessman Vasquez, and Claudette L. Hobbs
In 2005, the council advised ASC on new service programs and grant proposal development, helped us to identify services to meet the needs of our Latino clients, assisted in designing recruitment strategies for ASC's many support groups, participated in the evaluation of agency services through ASC's annual agency-wide client satisfaction survey, and completed a brochure to recruit new members to the council. And that's just the start.
Along with providing a vital mechanism for quality improvement and accountability, ASC's Community Advisory Council educates the community and elected representatives about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and services in New York City. As men and women directly affected by the epidemic, their voices are an essential part of the continuing public dialogue about how to address the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and promote effective prevention in communities at risk.
Community Advisory Boards are mandated for organizations like ASC that receive Ryan White CARE Act Title I funds. However, as ASC's Deputy Executive Director Brenda Starks-Ross observes, ASC does not view its Consumer Advisory Council as a mere obligation, but as an integral part of the agency. Ms. Starks-Ross, who has served as ASC's Staff Liaison to the council for six years, adds, "We believe deeply in the partnership between ASC and its consumers because this partnership raises the agency's level of excellence. Our commitment to the council is represented not only by my presence at every meeting, but also by the Executive Director's attendance at several council meetings each year. We all believe strongly in the council's mission. We like being accountable to our customers. We know it strengthens our agency."