March 3, 2005

In January, swimmers from three New York City Masters swim teams—Team New York Aquatics (TNYA), YWCA of New York, and Red Tide—organized their annual One Hour Swim fundraiser. For the second consecutive year, AIDS Service Center NYC is honored to be the local HIV/AIDS organization selected by the three teams as the event's beneficiary.

"The team decided to use the One Hour Swim as a fundraiser about 14 years ago because one of the swimmers on the team was HIV-positive and was having a hard time paying his bills," explained Bill Carr, TNYA president. "We've done the same thing every year since." To generate the funds, swimmers gather sponsorships for each lap they swim during the event.

To show our appreciation, ASC was poolside during this year's event, offering nourishment and support to the swimmers. ASC's trained volunteers provided massage and aural acupressure, as well as staffing a snack table stocked with juice, sports drinks, bananas, Powerbars, and donuts.

"The One Hour Swim is exhilarating to watch," remarked Sharen Duke, ASC Executive Director/CEO. "It's also incredibly humbling to see athletes from all over New York City swim thousands of laps to raise awareness and resources to help people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS."

Exhilarating indeed. At City College, the first one-hour heat began at 7:40 a.m. For each round, up to twelve swimmers occupied the pool's six lanes. Hour after hour, swimmers crisscrossed the pool, cheered on by teammates, onlookers and, of course, the delegation from ASC. As swimmers concluded their one-hour swims, volunteers recorded splits and measured distances. When the whistle blew at the end of each hour, weary but exuberant swimmers loitered briefly and allowed themselves to be heartily congratulated before the next heat dove in.

This scene repeated itself again and again until the last heat finished at 5:00 p.m. In all, 125 swimmers swam a total of 472,390 yards—the equivalent of 268 miles! In addition to the City College event, swimmers from the YWCA team held One Hour Swim events at their home pool in Midtown Manhattan.

The hard work of the event's organizers and the enthusiasm of the swimmers made the 2005 One Hour Swim a resounding success. The event was characterized by a distinct sense of camaraderie and cooperation between the teams and individual swimmers. Most swimmers competed against themselves for personal bests, but behind it all was the goal of lending support to AIDS Service Center NYC and the work we do. In the words of Bill Carr, "ASC is a local organization that addresses many facets of HIV and its effect on people. We were impressed by ASC's poetry program, its focus on women's services, and its outreach to all kinds of at-risk groups." ASC is extremely grateful for this continued partnership.

March 3, 2005

Come spend a hot summer night with ASC at the Museum of Sex! On June 16, 2005, ASC will host "Safer Sex In The City," a fun-filled and enlightening evening of music, entertainment, demonstrations, and displays that bring ASC's expertise in safer sex education and HIV risk reduction to the wider community.

This ASC fundraiser will feature a live DJ and rousing entertainment, along with safer sex presentations and a silent auction featuring sex toys, lingerie, sexy sleepwear, and other items to pique the imagination. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served, and the entire Museum of Sex will be open for this event, so guests can enjoy the exhibits on the history and cultural significance of human sexuality.

As an HIV/AIDS organization working to promote HIV prevention in the epicenter of the nation's HIV epidemic, ASC has always used creative, culturally appropriate methods for conveying safer sex and HIV risk reduction skills to diverse audiences citywide. We hope you'll join us at Safer Sex In The City to see our work "up close and personal" in a fabulously sensuous setting.

The event will be held on Thursday, June 16, 2005, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Museum of Sex, located at 233 Fifth Avenue (at 27th Street in Manhattan). Tickets are $20, with higher levels of sponsorship available. To learn more about Safer Sex In The City and to find out how to support ASC's work through sponsorship or a donation of goods and services for this event, contact Ernesta Pierre, ASC's Assistant Director of Marketing, at or at 212-645-0875, extension 314.

March 3, 2005

Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey has partnered with the New York Chapter of Cable Positive to develop a Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting AIDS Service Center NYC. The PSA highlights ASC's key services and encourages viewers to contact ASC if they or someone they know is living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The PSA began airing on local cable television stations in December 2004 and will continue to air throughout the spring, significantly increasing public awareness of ASC's services throughout the five boroughs. To view the new PSA, click here.

March 3, 2005
Guy Williams, ASC Trainer, leading a workshop on "The Impact of HIV/AIDS at Home and Abroad."

On February 7, 2005, ASC marked National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with workshops and panel discussions on HIV/AIDS in the African American community. The event reached more than fifty consumers and service providers.

Currently, Black adults account for the majority of the estimated 40,000 new HIV infections diagnosed in the United States each year1 and in 2003, the rate of new AIDS cases for Black women was 20 times that of white women and five times greater than the infection rate for Latinas.2

As a minority organization that primarily serves people of color, ASC has long recognized the devastating impact of the epidemic on Black and Latino communities and has delivered an array of innovative, culturally appropriate interventions that engage our clients holistically with attention to each individual's unique needs. ASC's Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events were no exception.

The first workshop of the day addressed "The Impact of HIV/AIDS at Home and Abroad." Co-facilitated by ASC Program Manager for Peer Services Deborah Yuelles and ASC Trainer Guy Williams, the workshop connected HIV issues here in New York City with the global pandemic as it affects people of color worldwide.

A panel discussion on " The Cultural Response to HIV/AIDS" provided religious and spiritual perspectives on the epidemic and its impact on the Black community.

The panelists—Rev. Freeman Palmer (Middle Collegiate Church), Rev. Willie Frink, Jr. (Church of Scientology of Harlem), and Rev. Gale Jones (Renewed Life Ministries)—represented churches with active AIDS ministries whose core values include a warm acceptance and embracing of their HIV-positive members.

"Religion and spirituality have an undeniable importance in Black culture," observed Ramona Cummings, ASC's Assistant Director of Prevention Services. "Yet many of our clients feel the church has distanced itself from them due to their HIV status. They feel stigmatized and isolated from their community."

The panel featured lively exchanges between audience members and panelists. Although ASC is a secular community organization, we were pleased to provide participants with information about local AIDS ministries that will receive them with open arms, should they wish to include a spiritual component in their self-care.

ASC concluded our Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day activities with a workshop on "Healing Through Music." Led by Dr. Alma Villegas of Brooklyn's Musica Against Drugs, the workshop featured a menagerie of beautiful musical instruments—conga drums, bongos, cymbals, and maracas, to name just a few—which participants were invited to play. Gathering the group in a drumming circle, Dr. Villegas guided the participants through a series of engaging exercises using music to connect to one's own body rhythms to create a sense of energy and well-being. This therapeutic workshop resonated agency-wide, ending ASC's Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event on a note of empowerment, vitality, and hope.

1 Reuters, February 3, 2005, "Poverty Worsening HIV Among U.S. Black Women - Study" by Paul Simoa.
2The Washington Post, February 7, 2005, "U.S. HIV Cases Soaring Among Black Women: Social Factors Make Group Vulnerable" by Darryl Fears, Page A01.

March 1, 2005

For the third year in a row, Barnes & Noble Booksellers Union Square has selected AIDS Service Center NYC as the only not-for-profit organization to participate in the store's April celebration of National Poetry Month. Featuring readings by the members of ASC's weekly Creative Writing Workshop, "ASC Voices" is a powerful, poignant event you won't want to miss.

At this year's "ASC Voices" on April 18, ASC poets will read from the latest issue of ASC's literary magazine, Situations. ASC launched our Creative Writing Workshop in 2000, and it has become a model for how to use creative programming to promote harm reduction, recovery, self-esteem, and well-being among persons living with, at risk for, and affected by HIV/AIDS. This unique workshop was the subject of a memorable documentary entitled "My Life In Verse," which had its world premiere on Showtime on World AIDS Day 2004.

The Creative Writing Workshop epitomizes ASC's motto of "Helping many, one by one," by providing an engaging forum for self-expression among men and women struggling with HIV, substance abuse, homelessness, and many other challenges. "ASC Voices" at Barnes & Noble Union Square is a unique opportunity to share in the joys, struggles, and triumphs of the remarkable men and women who attend the workshop each week. Nobody leaves an "ASC Voices" poetry reading unchanged or unmoved.

Gerry Gomez Pearlberg, a poet who has led the workshop since its inception, will host the event. Our Guest Poet, Joan Larkin, will open the evening by reading from her recent poetry collection Cold River (Painted Leaf Press). She is also the author of If You Want What We Have: Sponsorship Meditations and Glad Day: Daily Meditations for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People. A poet, teacher, and editor, Larkin has received many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship.

"ASC Voices" will take place on Monday, April 18, 2005 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 4th Floor. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Situations 7 will be distributed. For more information about Situations 7, click here. To learn more about ASC's Creative Writing Workshop, click here.

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