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May 19, 2006

ASC is once again participating in AIDS Walk New York. Our team—ASC #0008—will join thousands of other New Yorkers this coming Sunday (May 21) to help raise funds and awareness in the fight against AIDS.

AIDS Walk will begin in Central Park's Sheep's Meadow (for a map of the walk route, click here). ASC walkers should convene at the ASC Team Table on East Drive between 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. We'll be there, rain or shine, with breakfast and T-shirts for all ASC Team walkers.

Please join us! Be sure to arrive early to sign in at the general registration area and drop off your pledges. (If you are not pre-registered but have raised pledges, don't forget to write ASC Team #0008 on all your checks!)

Even if you can't join us, there's still time to support an ASC Team member by making an online donation. Browse our list of walkers on the ASC Team home page.

May 19, 2006
ASC Poetry Leader Diane Dawson shares her writings with a rapt audience at "ASC Voices."

Over the past four years, "ASC Voices" at Barnes and Noble Union Square has become a cherished springtime tradition. On April 25, we once again packed the house, with more than 80 audience members reveling in the amazing imaginations and courageous poetry of ASC's Creative Writing Workshop members.

Guest reader Diane H. Dillon, co-author of Mommy Mantras kicked off the evening, which was hosted by workshop facilitator Gerry Gomez Pearlberg. Free copies of the most recent issue of ASC's literary magazine, Situations were distributed.

ASC thanks Barnes & Noble Union Square for its remarkable commitment to ensuring that the voices of people living with, affected by, and at risk for HIV/AIDS are heard. We look forward to our next Barnes and Noble reading (this time at the Astor Place store) on July 27, when we'll participate in the kick-off to a four-day book fair, raising money and awareness for local HIV programs.

Photo Credit: Scott Abbott

May 19, 2006

On Wednesday, June 14, ASC is hosting Safer Sex In The City 2006 at the Museum of Sex. The evening will include fabulous music, dancing, raffles, a silent auction, refreshments, and "demonstration" tables showcasing ASC's expertise in safer sex education and HIV risk reduction. New York DJ's Jackie Christie and Jon Mallow will supply the bump.

A special pre-event VIP cocktail reception will feature a champagne toast and performance by burlesque sensation Dirty Martini.

General Admission and VIP tickets are available for online purchase. Please visit www.safersexinthecity.org to buy tickets and learn more about this year's event.

If you've already purchased tickets, why not share the joy? Simply click the "Invite a Friend" link on any page of our event website to let your contacts in on the fun.

Last year's Safer Sex In The City was a blast—and this year's extravaganza promises to be even better. You've never had so much fun raising money for a great cause! We look forward to seeing you there.

May 19, 2006

With ASC's annual Safer Sex In The City fundraiser coming up in just a few weeks, the time seems right to share ASC's "secret for success" in promoting HIV risk reduction citywide.

One of the main ingredients of our excellent track record is our use of peer education as the mechanism for getting the word out. In the past 15 years, ASC has graduated hundreds of Peer Educators from its extensive peer training programs. Once trained, ASC Peers take what they've learned about risk reduction and health promotion and share these messages with thousands of people in homeless shelters, methadone clinics, food banks, ex-offender programs, and other community settings.

In 2005 alone, ASC Peer Educators conducted over 2,000 prevention education initiatives, reaching nearly 18,000 New Yorkers with life-saving education and links to services. The Peers also provide acupuncture-detox, distribute ASC's food pantry, help out in our "Wonderful Wearables" Clothing Room, and encourage new clients to avail themselves of ASC's case management services, support groups, and educational offerings.

Engaging people who are not connected to the HIV care system involves a gradual process of building trust, credibility, and rapport. "At ASC, we meet people where they're at," explains ASC Outreach Coordinator David Lopez. "Our main goals are to teach people how to prevent HIV and inspire them to do so, help people learn their HIV status, and provide HIV-positive people with access to medical care. However, these tasks are not easy because many people are uncomfortable talking about HIV risk issues."

How does ASC get over this hurtle? "We're accessible and easy to talk to," says Lopez, "Our Peer Educators don't just spout the medical jargon. Instead, they help people feel comfortable by sharing their personal stories and making the information understandable and real."

Armed with the power of knowledge and the skills to share HIV prevention strategies, ASC Peer Educators are role models who inspire behavior change, bringing messages of safety and hope to countless others. Inspiration is a motivating force in making safer sex, risk reduction, and health promotion community norms against seemingly insurmountable odds.

"Each one reach one and teach one," is how Diane Williams, long-time Peer Educator and co-trainer for ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP), puts it. "Each time I inspire someone I meet doing HIV prevention work to join PREP, I know I'm helping to achieve ASC's mission of ‘helping many, one by one.'"

May 19, 2006

One of the participants in the AMNH outing gives his opinion on the quality of the day's events.

In April, ASC participated in the Angel Wish Foundation/Goldman Sachs Community TeamWorks outing at the American Museum of Natural History. This special day featured one-on-one mentoring of the children of ASC clients by Goldman Sachs staff volunteers. This year, 16 children ages 6 to 12 were treated to an all-expense-paid trip to the museum, including lunch and transportation. Highlights of the day included special tours through the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Dinosaur Hall, and the Butterfly Conservatory.

"This partnership with Angel Wish and Goldman Sachs is so important to ASC," observes ASC Case Manager Antoinette Desrossiers-Jean, who served as one of the chaperones for the outing. "Events like this not only guarantee the children a good time, they provide valuable opportunities for our clients to provide enrichment for their children that might not otherwise be possible."

ASC thanks Angelwish for spearheading this partnership. And we extend our appreciation to the Goldman Sachs Community TeamWorks volunteers who gave their time and energy to ensure that the children's trip to the AMNH was a fun and memorable one.

May 19, 2006

"Doing outreach and talking to people about safer sex isn't hard when you've walked in my shoes. When I'm conducting outreach in a single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel, I walk up to people and ask how their day is going. If they're willing to speak, I let them know I'm an ASC Peer Educator and that I'm going to tell them about safer sex. I bring facts, literature, and condoms and let them see and read for themselves. I let them know HIV is real.

"My main message is about safety and awareness. To be safe, you either have to use condoms or be abstinent. It's as simple as that. I tell people, ‘You may not think sex is as enjoyable wearing a condom, but there's a lifetime of pain if you don't.' Only someone who's infected knows what that's like—how hard it is and how many barriers you face.

"If I can get just one person to use that condom, that's one less person we have to worry about, and that goes a long way. Keeping one person safe can keep thousands of others safe as well.

"People are afraid to go to the doctor and get tested. That's dangerous, because people can be infected for years and carry the virus without knowing it. The only way to get around people's fear is to beat the streets, and keep the message going. When I talk to people, they see it's coming from someone who cares. ASC Peer Educators walk in those shoes every day, and we know.

"Being an ASC Peer is like being a newborn baby again. ASC shelters us and gives us lots of love and support. ASC's Training Coordinator, Lurenda Cray took me by the hand and guided me, built up my self-esteem—that happened during my peer training at ASC and continues to this day. ASC let me know that just because you have HIV doesn't mean you can't do everything you wanted to in life. ASC gives that type of support to people, and then we're able to go out and give that same message to others."

May 19, 2006

Our honored guests partake in a spirited ribbon-cutting ceremony with ASC Executive Director/CEO Sharen I. Duke during the dedication ceremony. L to R: Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito (NYC Council, District 8), Councilmember Daniel Garodnick (NYC Council, District 4), Lisa Kaplan (Chief of Staff, Office of Councilmember Rosie Mendez, District 2), Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Sharen I. Duke.

On April 6, ASC held a cocktail reception honoring Speaker Christine Quinn and the members of the New York City Council's Manhattan Delegation with ASC Hero awards for their commitment to New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. Speaker Quinn, who was joined by Council Members Gale Brewer, Daniel Garodnick, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, gave a rousing keynote address at the standing-room-only event.

Before an audience of more than fifty community members and leaders in the field of HIV/AIDS, ASC Executive Director/CEO Sharen Duke dedicated ASC's Training Center to the delegation, unveiling four handsomely etched, inset glass blocks featuring the New York City Council's seal and the names of all of the delegation members.

"We're honored that Speaker Quinn and so many of the Council Members were able to join us for this special occasion," said Duke. "The Council is a steadfast supporter of HIV/AIDS programs around the city, and this event was our way of saying ‘thank you.' Last year, the Manhattan Delegation was instrumental in shepherding through a significant capital allocation in support of ASC's recent program expansion, which allows us to serve more people and to do so in a more accommodating, client-friendly environment."

May 19, 2006

Building on ASC's ongoing community partnership with the Danspace Project, New York choreographer Heidi Latsky recently approached us for assistance in creating her new dance piece entitled, "Disjointed," which addresses issues of illness, caretaking, isolation, and survival. The piece recently premiered at Danspace to critical acclaim in The New York Times and elsewhere.

In April, Ms. Latsky and dancer Jeffrey Freeze visited ASC and met with 13 of our clients and Peer Educators to solicit their thoughts about surviving illness and pain, coping with the isolation that can come with long-term illness, and "translating" these experiences into movement and dance. As a result of the experience, ASC Peer Educator Joseph A. was invited to perform in the piece.

Congratulations to Joseph and a heartfelt thanks to Heidi Latsky Dance members and Danspace Project for their continuing support and spirit of collaboration.

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