December 12, 2010

What a difference 20 years makes.

Since our launch in 1990, ASC has grown into a multi-service, multi-lingual, multi-million dollar organization.  With more than 90 staff and four community centers throughout Manhattan, we provide HIV testing, treatment and care to more than 3,600 people affected by HIV/AIDS.  We reach another 14,000 people through peer education and community-outreach initiatives.

Just as important, ASC has become a social-change agency.  People first encounter ASC as clients.  Once they stabilize their health and lives, they join our Peer Program, bringing information and resources to communities in need.  Many Peers leave welfare and rejoin the work force, either at ASC or other organizations. These men and women courageously turn their lives around.  It’s a joy to know that ASC’s safe, supportive environment plays a role in that process.

The picture was very different two decades ago.  ASC began with three staff  in donated office space from the Design Industry Foundation for AIDS (DIFFA).  With the help of one $170,000 grant from the NY State AIDS Institute, we were able to offer service coordination and technical support for people affected by the HIV/AIDS health crisis. 

Within a year, we doubled ASC’s budget, staff, and services.  Seven of us crammed into a tiny space, sitting in a circle, sharing three phones. Whenever I’d say “step into my office,” we’d go into the stairwell, because that was the only private place.

During the past year our focus has expanded to building effective partnerships with medical facilities.   Our aim is to connect those living with HIV/AIDS in quality medical care – and help them maintain that care.  Despite the economic downturn, ASC is proud to be expanding our programs, service sites, and jobs to meet an ever-growing need.  

Looking back at ASC’s two decades of service, I am humbled by our modest beginnings and proud of our extraordinary accomplishments. Our 20thyear anniversary celebrations will begin with a “Poetry Slam” @ NYU in January and culminate with a gala anniversary event to be held next fall. 

It’s been an honor and privilege to be part of this remarkable organization’s evolution and positive impact. I look around ASC and see so many people who have turned their lives around, giving so much back to the community. They are my heroes, and my inspiration for doing this work.

- Sharen I. Duke, Executive Director/CEO

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