Making a Difference With AIDS Services of Dallas
A stack of gifts cards for those who often feel forgotten or invisible in their struggles. A simple, homemade taco meal, enthusiastically prepared by a group of college students with very little culinary experience. Each of these gestures show that every act of kindness, big and small, matters. And they matter a great deal to individuals and families living with or impacted by an older, different pandemic than COVID-19: that of HIV/AIDS.
The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Our Community
Before 2020, HIV/AIDS had taken a toll in Texas and our local communities, with Dallas County registering one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Texas. As resources have been redirected to the fight against COVID-19, the impact of HIV/AIDS has not disappeared. In fact, COVID has intensified the challenges for HIV-positive individuals whose immune systems are compromised in their fight against any illness.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the LGBTQ community. In 2017, gay and bisexual men accounted for 66% of all HIV diagnoses. Since many in the LGBTQ community face discrimination in society, they are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Approximately 5-10% of homeless people are HIV positive. Since many low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas tend to move from place to place often, they do not have access to the support services needed to manage the disease and minimize transmissions.
Although we now understand more about the disease, there is still a stigma attached to the disease. Because of the associated stigma, HIV/AIDS is a serious public health problem as those fighting the disease experience obstacles when trying to obtain adequate treatment, education, employment, and housing.
Organizations such as the AIDS Services of Dallas work to remove the social stigma while providing a variety of services to care for the most vulnerable in our community.
The Mission of AIDS Services of Dallas
The mission of AIDS Services of Dallas (ASD) is to create and strengthen healthy communities by providing quality, affordable, service-enriched housing for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.
Operating on the core values of respect, justice, and mercy, ASD provides a range of services to remove barriers to care for residents and to empower them to cope with the lifelong impact of HIV/AIDS on their physical, mental, emotional, and financial health.
The Core Programs of AIDS Services of Dallas
ASD’s core programs and services include congregate housing, case management, medical case management, transportation services, and food services. They also provide youth summer programs that help build self-esteem and social skills and provide hands-on learning experiences.
ASD has a great staff and volunteers to meet the changing daily needs of their residents. They have on-site case managers and registered nurses that provide emergency and crisis services 24 hours on weekdays and weekends.
Currently, ASD is home for over 225 men, women, families, and children. But their impact is far greater than their statistics. They provide a safe, nurturing environment for a group that has been isolated for a long time in our community. They respect and love their residents, bringing dignity back to charity.
Chase Oaks Makes a Difference
Recently, Pastor of External Ministries John Stanley was able to deliver $5000 worth of gift cards from Chase Oaks to the residents of ASD, helping to brighten their holidays
as part of a Christmas gift initiative.
And right before New Year’s, College Ministry Resident Crystal Johnson invited a group of college students to join her in cooking dinner for ASD residents through the ASD Supper Club initiative. Supper Clubs provide a nutritious meal to ASD residents and give them an opportunity for social interaction that many residents are unable to get on a day-to-day basis.
Although none of the students knew how to cook, they were able to prepare a delicious taco meal, to the delight of the residents:
“...one of the residents at ASD was saying they don’t get Mexican often and so he was really thrilled. I asked what they normally get, and he said a lot of pasta and pizza because people typically just want something quick, cheap and easy. They were really touched that it was a home-cooked meal and something different from the usual.”
Another student shared, “This was one of my favorite moments of the year. I had a horrible year, and this was a really great way to end it.”
Looking ahead, Chase Oaks is working to build a Supper Club team to serve the residents of ASD on a regular basis. If you are interested in joining the Supper Club team or would like more information, contact [email protected].