Monday, October 01, 2012

October Fall Fling

HELP FAIR Soars to Shift HIV/AIDS Paradigm into a HEFTE Village

Local community based organization, STRILITE and its counterpart The Living Affected Corporation served over 100 participants during its debut event, The HELP Fair,  September 28, inside the First Presbyterian Church of Argenta in North Little Rock. The event which was designed to gather local social service providers in a one stop shop collaboration for participants who also could also access sexual health screenings, obtain a free bag of groceries and be served lunch on the premises. The event was in conjunction with recognizing National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day, September 27 and was funded through a grant as an awareness day activity through the Arkansas Department of Health. "I was elated and overjoyed at the response from those seeking this event," said Jonathan Griggs, STRILITE President. " I wasn't sure what to expect, but I felt that our hard work and non-stop commitment to making this happen would pay off."  According to organizers, individuals began lining up at the site at 8 am, four hours prior to the event taking place at noon. Service providers ranging from Workforce Services which brought their mobile intake unity, SNAP program which offers food stamp access to entities such as AFLAC were present to disseminate information on their respective services and offer supportive materials.

Additional information on the mission of the group and its umbrella entity, The Living Affected Corporation was also a centerpiece of the event. "We felt that we had to highlight that dealing with individuals holistically and enlisting other social services are vital in addressing HIV and AIDS," said D. Levi, LA Corp CEO.  Griggs added, " we are excited about this chance to bring to life our "HEFTE" concept which addresses housing, education, food, treatment and employment in relation to either linking or retaining individuals into HIV/AIDS care." He concluded, "through our research we've determined that these social determinants must be apart of the health care mix if we are to adequately make some impact within the community." Ultimately the organization believes that a "HEFTE Village" is the answer to shifting the paradigm in dealing with HIV and AIDS. After assessing the impact of this event, the group plans to explore if the concept could be leveraged into a DEBI style intervention or perhaps become a state model in lieu of the BAI Testing Tour. The event resulted in over 150 HIV/AIDS/STD screenings and 90 plus bags of groceries given to participants. Volunteers and supporters assisted with packing and delivering groceries to awaiting cars, serving lunch, parking cars, testing, and ushering participants through the event. The group is underway with planning HELP Fair 2.0 to commemorate World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012. Sponsors, contributions and in-kind gifts are being sought to add to the planning of the second part of the event.

The group's purpose serves as a sub-grantee of ADH as well as the conduit of the HIV Prevention module to serve same gender loving men having sex with men population. For more information on volunteer opportunities contact Griggs at either 855-STRILITE( 855-787-4583) or 501.379.8203

Tongues Untied Prepares for October Launch

 "Tongues Untied," an emerging same gender loving support group  is planning its debut October 10, 2012, 6-7:30 pm at 401 North Maple Street, Suite A in North Little Rock. Under the guidance of The Living Affected Corporation in conjunction with ADH's newest sub-grantee, STRILITE, the venture will be designed to further support efforts to " HIV prevention message" within the same gender loving community and beyond in the people of color construct. Although not HIV centric, the core interest of the group is to facilitate a safe zone for Black gay men to explore similar issues, barriers and challenges in their daily lives which could impact their future.

The new group will feature both an open forum and topical format based around a 90 minute frame or as the group decides. The topics could range from relationship 101 to expressing your inner creativity through fashion.  LA Corp, Chief Operating Officer, Cornelius Mabin emphasized that this project was always apart of the STRILITE vision. "From its inception, the members viewed having such a group that would be vital to their consumer driven mission to provide "peer to peer" mentoring, support and prevention education against maladies such as HIV in our community."

Furthermore, " it's became imperative that as we deal with individuals holistically, it was determined that we must continue to cultivate relationships that wholeheartedly support their vision of "reaching our present to change our future". I foresee that this beginning could easily be ramped up to reach out through social media onto creating real time online experiences for those living in Arkansas rural areas. There's so much potential to make connection to all sections of the state that we must embrace. Ultimately we learned that such a group didn't exist and a need was assessed that needed filling, therefore we are doing what we can to make it happen."

For more information contact:  or call 855-STIRLITE.  Additional meetings will be held November 14, 2012 and December 12, 2012. Dates are subject to change due to scheduling.

October is LGBTQ History Month

In case you may have forgot, or didn't know, then now you know that, October is LGBTQ History Month. COP 24/7 has been at the forefront of proclaiming such events and this outing is no different. Knowing who, what, when and where of our history is paramount, especially as we persevere forward with a rallying cry of not allowing the past to be repeated. This forum will be embedding videos from and other resource material from Equality Forum. The information is invaluable to further understand the players whom stood in the gap to promote human rights and equality. Stay tuned to this site for updates as we celebrate the men and women who made it happen!


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