ASC Peer Recovery Education Program graduates celebrate their achievements.
A crowning jewel of the program is our Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP). With an eight-week training followed by stipended internships, PREP paves the way out of public assistance and into the workforce. Each year, ASC sponsors 40–50 Peer Educators, who become role models for the people they meet through ASC's community outreach and education in homeless shelters, transitional housing programs, drug treatment programs, houses of worship, and pre-release programs for incarcerated men and women.
"Through PREP training and internships, Peer Educators gain experience in outreach, administration, data processing, and group facilitation," explains ASC Deputy Executive Director Brenda Starks-Ross. "Through supervision and support, participants learn how to manage conflict, dress for the job, handle paperwork, and stick with challenging projects. We teach them how to be part of the work force."
With just 18 months of recovery behind her, Alissa remembers herself as "very introverted" when she joined PREP in 2004. "I learned about myself in ways that were deep and uplifting," she says. "As a Peer Intern doing outreach, I got the chance to build my people skills."
Alissa soon advanced to co-facilitating ASC's HIV prevention presentations. When the opportunity to work as a train conductor at NYC Transit arose, she was ready. "If I hadn't come to ASC," says Alissa, "there's no way I would have been able to handle this job."
Edwin spent his PREP internship co-facilitating ASC's Safety Counts HIV prevention workshops and presenting on harm reduction. "PREP kept my mind occupied, kept me educated, and kept me on my feet," says Edwin. "It showed me a different way of life—being productive, giving back to society. The program helped me change my life 110%."
Today, Edwin works in the "maintenance in care" program at Saint Vincent's Hospital, bringing patients who have fallen through the cracks back into treatment. "It's a challenging job," observes Edwin, "but ASC gave me the experience and skills to become good at this work. My supervisors are very happy with my performance. They pay me good, but it's not really about the money. I have a mission to accomplish and I am determined to do it."
With one success story after another, ASC's Peer Education Program has built a strong reputation among agencies in search of qualified employees. "We train people so well, that they get snatched up by other agencies, including local hospitals and AIDS service organizations," explains Brenda Starks-Ross. "And at ASC, nearly one in four staff members are former Peers. Some have worked their way up to become managers."
"Our PREP graduates are our pride and joy," adds Starks-Ross. "They've gained the tools to give back, be productive, and remove themselves from the public welfare system. Our trainings build stamina, skills, and self-esteem so people can literally re-create themselves. That's expensive for us to do, but it's money well spent. After all, jail and rehab are expensive too."
(L-R) DJ Vic Latino, Club Sensation Kevin Aviance, and DJ Jackie Christie at Safer Sex In The City 2007.
Raising nearly $60,000 and attracting an energetic crowd of over 300 people, ASC's Safer Sex In The City fundraiser in June was a fabulous success. Our annual signature event promotes safer sex in the age of AIDS and celebrates ASC's pioneering work in HIV prevention and service delivery.
Held at Manhattan's Museum of Sex, this year's event opened with a VIP hour hosted by Dean Winters. Guests grooved to music by DJ powerhouses Vic Latino and Jackie Christie, and enjoyed riveting performances by club legend Kevin Aviance and the Dazzle Dancers. Along with the museum's erotic exhibits, our guests got a taste of ASC's work in HIV risk reduction and bid on an eclectic silent auction.
Each year, Safer Sex In The City garners many new supporters. This year's sponsors included Brown-Forman, Kenneth Cole, Select Health, Cline Davis & Mann, Impact Technology Solutions, VidaCare, TGI Office Automation, Vanguard Investors, Cutler Industries, the New York Chapter of Cable Positive, Red Tide, Team New York Aquatics, Bud Light, 180 Energy Drink, and Izze Beverage Company. Top media sponsors included The Onion, Project Publicity PR, The New York Blade, POZ Magazine, XM Radio, and Manhunt.net.
We're gearing up to break all previous records for fabulousness at Safer Sex In The City 2008, so mark your calendar for June 12, 2008. Visit our Safer Sex In The City website for this year's photo-highlights, details on our sponsors and supporters, and regular updates on next year's event.
An ASC PREP graduate tells her success story.
I like to tell people that I came to ASC to get a change of clothes and walked out with a change in life.
In the winter of 2005, I'd just gotten out of jail. I was living in a "cardboard condo"—an empty box on a park bench. I needed clothes, and a guy I knew from the streets told me about the Clothing Room at ASC.
My first contact with ASC was great. After I got some pants, shirts, and a sweater, an ASC staff person asked me about myself.
I told her I didn't want to get high anymore because I was tired of living that life. I didn't want free time because I didn't want to get high. She told me to try out ASC's poetry workshop, health trainings, and recovery groups. From there, I learned about the Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP).
I was interested in PREP because I thought it would give me more stability. So, instead of hanging out in the streets, I went to my PREP classes and other services at ASC. ASC gave me a reason to stop getting high by giving me something better to focus on.
PREP helped me get back into the workforce. When I graduated from PREP, I started doing outreach. I learned how to be responsible and on time, how to handle my emotions, how to put my issues on the shelf, and how to listen. Then I became a Case Management Advocate, helping people with HIV to make doctors' appointments, talk to their doctors, and find housing. It's rewarding to help other people the way ASC helped me.
Around here, we like to say that ASC stands for "Always Something Changes." Through ASC, my life has changed. Today, I am a man who has taken back his life. I'm strengthened, steadfast, and productive in all I do.
Sharen Duke (first row, sixth from left) with other SPNM Program participants at Harvard Business School.
The back-to-school season started early this year for ASC's Executive Director Sharen Duke—but this was no ordinary classroom.
In July, Sharen attended the prestigious Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management (SPNM) Program at Harvard Business School. She was one of two executives sponsored by the Harvard Business School Club of New York to attend this renowned program, which attracts nonprofit leaders from throughout the world, representing all sectors, including healthcare, human services, environmental issues, international development, and the arts.
SPNM equips executives to navigate the continuously shifting landscape that makes nonprofit management so demanding—from operating environments to fiscal pressures and service needs. Participants reexamine their missions, develop new strategies, and strengthen their ability to make their organizations more effective.
"My weeklong immersion in SPNM was an opportunity to reflect on ASC's work, plan for the future, benefit from the guidance of Harvard's brilliant faculty, and be inspired by my colleagues in nonprofit leadership from all over the world," says Sharen. "I gained tools that have sharpened my skills and deepened my vision for ASC's path to new heights of capacity and quality. I'm deeply grateful to the program for all I learned there, and to the Harvard Business School Club of New York for making this experience possible."
To continue the vibrant dialogue that was so integral to the SPNM experience, participants from New York City—including the leaders of El Museo del Barrio, Planned Parenthood NYC, Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, and Creative Alternatives of New York—will meet monthly to explore key elements of nonprofit management and share strategies and expertise.
The documentary features (L-R): Actress Gloria Reuben, POZ Magazine Editor Regan Hofmann, ASC volunteer Lillian Cotto-Anglada, POZ Community Outreach Coordinator Marvelyn Brown, ASC Deputy Director Brenda Starks-Ross, and Life Force Director Gwen Carter.
Produced by Cable Positive in association with Kismet Films, Positive Voices: Women and HIV is a 46-minute documentary hosted by actress Gloria Reuben that explores the lives of six women affected by HIV/AIDS.
"Positive Voices: Women and HIV sheds light on the harsh reality of women, accounting for one of every three new HIV infections," says Cable Positive President and CEO Steve Villano. "Our objective with this documentary is to empower women with information about the disease and reduce the stigma that surrounds it, preventing HIV positive women from getting the treatment they need."
View a brief promo video for this documentary.
From Heidi Latsky's performance of "Disjointed."
ASC is launching an exciting new partnership with Heidi Latsky Dance, an internationally acclaimed dance company based in New York City. With funding from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the company will provide a weekly movement and dance group for ASC's clients beginning in late September.
In this expressive therapy group, ASC clients will learn to convey their thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires, and fears through dance—a powerful medium for creativity and healing. "We're hoping to help people tell their stories through movement," explains company founder Heidi Latsky. "Participants can choreograph their stories to their own movement and then, as a group, turn that into a performance. The process will be very cooperative, building teamwork among the participants. I'm truly excited about seeing what we can create together."
With ASC's long history of partnering with arts professionals, from muralists to poets, the connection with dance is a perfect fit. We're always on the lookout for innovative partnerships that give people living with HIV/AIDS creative outlets that promote well-being.
This collaboration with Heidi Latsky Dance will culminate in a performance featuring the workshop participants at Manhattan's Danspace Project on December 20. The event is sure to be a memorable experience, and we'll post event details in the near future. To learn more, visit our website or the websites of Heidi Latsky Dance and Danspace.
New York City leads the nation in HIV/AIDS cases. The number of people living with HIV in the five boroughs keeps growing at an alarming rate—but that hasn't stopped the Bush administration from slashing New York's funding for HIV/AIDS services by a whopping $10.2 million. The cutbacks stem from a funding shift away from New York to other states coupled with new restrictions in how Ryan White Care Act funds can be spent. These cuts are hurting ASC and other AIDS service agencies in New York City and across the country.
In July, MHRA/HIV Care Services (which administers the city's Ryan White grant monies) informed grantees—including ASC—of major cutbacks to 14 lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs. Three of ASC's core programs—treatment adherence, case management, and harm reduction services—are being slashed by tens of thousands of dollars.
"It's tragic and inconceivable that these programs are on the chopping block when they're known to help people living with HIV/AIDS live longer, healthier lives," says ASC's Executive Director Sharen Duke. "We've consistently demonstrated a positive impact on our clients' lives, and to see this vital work endangered is devastating. Twenty-five years into this epidemic, with 40,000 new HIV infections reported in the U.S. every year, government policies need to expand services for people with HIV/AIDS, instead of hindering the very organizations that provide such services."
We will weather this storm, but we need your help. Your generous donation will help ASC offset these indefensible budget cuts and go directly to helping those most in need. Join us in our mission of helping many, one by one today.
(L-R) ASC Executive Director Sharen Duke, Team NY Aquatics board member Lisa Gilson, and ASC Deputy Executive Director Brenda Starks-Ross at last year's World AIDS Day event.
ASC's annual World AIDS Day event will feature a community luncheon, a memorial service honoring those we have lost in the struggle with HIV/AIDS, and a poetry reading by members of ASC's Creative Writing Workshop celebrating the new, hot-off-the-press 11th issue of ASC's literary journal, Situations. Free copies of the journal will be given to all our guests. Join us at our main offices (41 E. 11th Street, Fifth Floor) for this commemoration. For more information, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 360, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good feelings and good food abound at ASC's annual Thanksgiving celebration.
You're invited to our annual Thanksgiving feast for clients and friends!
The celebration will include dinner, music, raffles, and HIV-related resources. The gathering will take place at St. Augustine's Church at 292 Henry Street, on the Lower East Side.
For travel directions, contact ASC's Planning Department at 212-645-0875 x 360, or email email@example.com.