PACE Otisville Hold Food Drive for HVCS

June 1st, 2017

Canned goods collected by Otisville inmates in the PACE program Melissa & Steven, two of our Prison Services CoordinatorsSpecial thanks to the members of the PACE (Prisoners’ AIDS Counseling & Education) program at Otisville for organizing a food drive for us in May! Members organized an AIDS Walk and asked fellow inmates to donate canned goods. Our Prison Services team attended the big event last month, and pictured here is Melissa and Steven with the results. Great job, PACE Otisville!

HVCS’ Food & Nutrition Programs Need Your Help

May 31st, 2017

When you don’t eat right, you don’t feel right. And so it was for Terry.

Terry* would make the rounds of local food pantries and soup kitchens. It was how he survived. His ‘home base’ was a homeless shelter in Orange County – where our Nutrition Education and Outreach coordinators would see him. But he always declined their help.

He didn’t trust anyone enough to let them assist him. However, after talking to him for a year, Terry began to confide in our coordinator, Debbie. He opened up about his addiction issues, his lack of family support, and his illiteracy. All of the systems that our society has set up to help people like him had let him down.

Then one day he appeared in our Newburgh office. “All right,” he said.  “I know you’re on my side. I need help.”

Debbie enrolled Terry into a nutrition access program in only two days.

“What are your goals?” Debbie asked.“I want a job,” Terry said. “I want a job so I can save money and get my own place, off the streets.”

Together, Debbie and Terry built a realistic plan to achieve that goal. After a few weeks and a referral to drug detox, Terry applied for and landed a job as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. Terry continued to receive nutritional assistance for a few months while he worked, and with our help he finally saved up enough money to rent a room of his own.

Terry went from being homeless and surviving on soup kitchens to being a fully contributing member of the Hudson Valley community.

And your support makes it possible. In fact, Hudson Valley Community Services has been supporting clients’ health with food and nutrition services for decades because of people like you. With your help we hand out over 10,000 food bags each year and feed nearly 1,100 people.

Donate today to keep our emergency food closets fully stocked.

We know you share our belief that a thriving Hudson Valley is made up of residents who are living their full potential: healthy, active and enjoying all the wonderful things that make this a great place to live. That’s why we connect anyone who needs temporary help getting enough food to all our available services.

But our food and nutrition programs are currently operating at a significant deficit because government grants aren’t able to meet the actual demand for food assistance in our area. In fact, three of our emergency food closets are sitting empty right now due to lack of funds, and we haven’t been able to purchase food from local food banks. Without direct support from caring people—like you—we’d be forced to reduce our services, hand out less food, and turn clients away from our emergency food closets.

Your contribution–of any amount–makes a difference. 

It means we can keep our food and nutrition programs strong. It means people like Terry have a chance to create a meaningful life. So please continue to help us build healthy communities right here in the Hudson Valley. It goes far beyond keeping food on our pantry shelves. You can help fuel bodies, prevent disease, and turn lives around—and more people can live their full potential.  Please give today.

Free HIV Home Testing Kits Offered By NYSDOH

May 30th, 2017

As part of the Governor’s plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State, the Department of Health’s AIDS Institute is pleased to announce a free statewide HIV Home Test Giveaway. This is an innovative strategy to address a gap in HIV testing among gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender or gender non-conforming people who have sex with men.  The AI, in collaboration with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and OraSure, the manufacturer of OraQuick® in-home HIV test, are making home HIV test kits available to eligible recipients now through July 7, 2017.
To be eligible to receive a free home test kit, participants must meet the following criteria: identify as a gay man; MSM; transgender or gender non-conforming person who has sex with men; be at least 18 years of age; reside in NYS (excluding NYC); and have never been diagnosed with HIV. If the participant is determined to be eligible, they will be asked to provide their email address where they will receive a discount code and instructions for redeeming a free HIV home test kit via OraSure’s website. Upon completion of the follow-up survey, participants will have the option to
receive a $20 electronic Amazon gift card. If the participant is determined to be ineligible, they will be referred to the AI website where there will be additional resources and information related to HIV testing.
Please visit  http://on.nyc.gov/2po3uwV to see if you’re eligible for a free home HIV test kit.

Donations Needed for HIV Testing Programs

May 25th, 2017

HVCS isn’t afraid to have tough conversations. We shine a light on problems that thrive in the darkness. That’s only one of the tools we can use to bring new HIV infections to zero because of the support we have received from people like you. You have also inspired us to be the strongest of advocates in preventing HIV/AIDS.  That is why we would like to share with you Louis’ story.

Louis is twenty-four, has one more year of grad school, identifies as gay and is, by all outward appearances, happy and successful. Yet sometimes he doesn’t feel like he’s got it all together—he copes with low self-esteem and anxiety. He has a supportive family but feels like he’s not attractive or smart enough and worries about the future. Sometimes in social situations he relies on “liquid courage”—he has a few drinks. He wants a long-term commitment (and, one day, a husband) but knows that as a young gay man he’s at higher risk for HIV infection. The things he did to feel better about himself, like going out and drinking, only made things worse. “It felt like the odds were stacked against me,” he said. “I felt pretty hopeless and scared.”

Until he came in for a free HIV test offered our INFORM program, which specializes in HIV prevention for men who have sex with men.  The INFORM specialist told him that he could diminish his fear of contracting HIV by going on PrEP. The specialist connected him to a medical provider and worked out insurance coverage. He also referred Louis to a counselor to address his self esteem, supplied him with condoms, and discussed strategies for having a good time at parties without risking his health. “Now I always go with friends, and we make a pact to watch out for each other.” Louis feels more in control and  less anxious about the future now that he’s equipped with more tools to stay healthy. By helping us to activate an entire network of supports—from his doctor to his friends to his therapist—you’re helping Louis stay as healthy as possible while staying true to his dreams and goals.

We know you share our belief that a thriving Hudson Valley is made up of residents who are living their full potential: healthy, active and enjoying all the wonderful things that make this a great place to live. But even with nearly forty years of studying how and why HIV is transmitted, Hudson Valley residents are still being infected with HIV. So we still need your help.  Those who were at the highest risk decades ago are still at high risk because most people have a tough time talking about sexuality, desire, substance abuse, and race.  This silence, combined with entrenched stigma against those with AIDS, allows HIV to spread through our communities—communities we need to stay healthy and strong if we’re to be a vibrant, colorful Hudson Valley.

What if Louis hadn’t come to us for a free HIV test? Though we believe that HIV testing is an opportunity to educate and engage people at high risk for HIV, government contracts don’t cover the full cost of offering those HIV tests for free. Our prevention programs are now operating in the red–and we may be forced to conduct fewer tests.

So we invite you to join us once again in keeping HIV prevention in the conversation. Your contribution means we can keep our HIV prevention programs strong. So please continue to help us build healthy communities right here in the Hudson Valley. Preventing the spread of HIV now means that more people can live their full potential.

Please give today.

 

Funding for HVCS’ Criminal Justice Initiative Renewed

May 24th, 2017

We are thrilled to announce that funding for our Criminal Justice Initiative was renewed by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute for another five years! We operate the CJI program in six New York State prisons for men in what is known as the Sullivan hub: Eastern, Otisville, Shawangunk, Sullivan, Wallkill and Woodbourne. Specialists provide HIV testing, create transition plans for HIV+ inmates who have served their time, and work with inmates to organize the Prisoners for AIDS Counseling and Education (PACE) program. CJI plays a critical role in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS among the incarcerated population.

Building A Healthier Hudson Valley: Louis’ Story

May 15th, 2017

email_header_youngmanHVCS isn’t afraid to have tough conversations. We shine a light on problems that thrive in the darkness. That’s only one of the tools we can use to bring new HIV infections to zero because of the support we have received from you. You have also inspired us to be the strongest of advocates in preventing HIV/AIDS.  That is why we would like to share with you Louis’ story – one that your support has made possible.

Louis is twenty-four, has one more year of grad school, identifies as gay and is, by all outward appearances, happy and successful. Yet sometimes he doesn’t feel like he’s got it all together—he copes with low self-esteem and anxiety. He has a supportive family but feels like he’s not attractive or smart enough and worries about the future. Sometimes in social situations he relies on “liquid courage”—he has a few drinks. He wants a long-term commitment (and, one day, a husband) but knows that as a young gay man he’s at higher risk for HIV infection. The things he did to feel better about himself, like going out and drinking, only made things worse. “It felt like the odds were stacked against me,” he said. “I felt pretty hopeless and scared.”

Until he came in for a free HIV test offered our INFORM program, which specializes in HIV prevention for men who have sex with men.  The INFORM specialist told him that he could diminish his fear of contracting HIV by going on PrEP. The specialist connected him to a medical provider and worked out insurance coverage. He also referred Louis to a counselor to address his self esteem, supplied him with condoms, and discussed strategies for having a good time at parties without risking his health. “Now I always go with friends, and we make a pact to watch out for each other.” Louis feels more in control and  less anxious about the future now that he’s equipped with more tools to stay healthy. By helping us to activate an entire network of supports—from his doctor to his friends to his therapist—you’re helping Louis stay as healthy as possible while staying true to his dreams and goals.

We know you share our belief that a thriving Hudson Valley is made up of residents who are living their full potential: healthy, active and enjoying all the wonderful things that make this a great place to live. But even with nearly forty years of studying how and why HIV is transmitted, Hudson Valley residents are still being infected with HIV. So we still need your help.  Those who were at the highest risk decades ago are still at high risk because most people have a tough time talking about sexuality, desire, substance abuse, and race.  This silence, combined with entrenched stigma against those with AIDS, allows HIV to spread through our communities—communities we need to stay healthy and strong if we’re to be a vibrant, colorful Hudson Valley.

So we invite you to join us once again in keeping HIV prevention in the conversation. Your contribution means we can keep our HIV prevention programs strong. So please continue to help us build healthy communities right here in the Hudson Valley. Preventing the spread of HIV now means that more people can live their full potential.

Please give today.

Image Designed by borjandreu / Freepik

A Special Announcement: No Hudson Valley AIDS Walk 2017

April 24th, 2017

If you’re a longtime supporter, you may be wondering why you haven’t yet seen anything about the Hudson Valley AIDS Walk, usually held in May. The Hudson Valley Community Services will not be holding its customary Hudson Valley AIDS Walk this year.

After twenty-four years of holding the AIDS Walk, we felt that it was time for a big change. We’ve been tweaking the AIDS Walk each year to respond to your feedback and bring in new supporters and community partners. The time has come for more than tweaks—we need a complete reset. This decision was made in conjunction with our Board of Directors, our volunteer AIDS Walk committee, key staff members and feedback from past supporters. We are excited to announce that our staff and volunteers are working together to create new events that inspire and motivate our donors, participants and volunteers, and will bring in even more resources to help our clients.

Our new focus includes making the commitment to better serving our clients by identifying key fundraising targets. We look forward to sharing more success stories so you get to know our clients—and you see how your contributions are helping them. We’re committing to a more personal approach to community partnerships. And we promise that fighting HIV/AIDS and helping Hudson Valley residents living with AIDS are still top priorities.

With all these changes we don’t want to lose sight of an underlying principle: our clients still need you! We hope that as we embark on a new direction in our fundraising efforts that you’ll be more energized and passionate about the work HVCS does in the Hudson Valley. Our fundraising staff is hard at work on new ways for you to remain involved. We’re always open to your ideas and feedback, too. Let us know what interests you and how we can meet your goals for helping your community. Thank you for your past support, and we look forward to working with all our supporters as we move forward together.

We Still Need You!

What’s Next?

We’re forming a committee to help plan a new grassroots event—The Most Important Meal, a breakfast to raise funds for our food and nutrition
programs. We need volunteers to help sell tickets, line up sponsors, sell journal ads, and collect silent auction items. The Most Important
Meal will be coming to a Mid-Hudson location in Fall 2017. If you’re interested in volunteering on the committee, contact Anthony Accomando at (914)
785-8277 or aaccomando@hudsonvalleycs.org.

Host an Event for HVCS

Create your own mini-fundraiser by hosting a third-party event. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy, or raise a large amount to make a difference. All it takes is the desire to pitch in and an idea for a gathering. Organizing your friends, family and community and asking them to contribute small amounts can really add up! Help HVCS by organizing:

  • Potluck dinners
  • Walks, hikes or bike rides
  • Bake sales
  • Loose change collections
  • Charity days at your business: collect donations from employees or donate a percentage of all sales
  • Food drives
  • Paint-and-sip parties
  • Guest bartender nights
  • The possibilities are endless!

If you’re interested or you’ve got an idea, contact J. Dewey at (914) 785-8326 or jdewey@hudsonvalleycs.org.

NYS Sen. David Carlucci Visits Our Rockland Office to Announce “HomeStart” Funding

April 12th, 2017

Thanks to New York State Senator David Carlucci, Hudson Valley Community Services (HVCS) is creating a new program for people who are transitioning from homelessness or living in a shelter to permanent housing. The program, to be called HomeStart, will supply newly housed individuals with basic “starter kits” to set up their new homes. Carlucci secured $50,000 of State funding to assist disadvantaged Rockland County residents.

We created this program to alleviate a huge problem faced by those who move into permanent housing. After life on the streets or in shelters, they often lack the basic equipment to independently sustain themselves and their families, and supplies like sheets, towels, kitchenware and cleaning supplies are not available through food banks or traditional housing programs.

The program targets under-served communities and specifically people who commonly use the emergency room and hospital for care. Our expanded care management services for people living with chronic illnesses put us in touch with an ever-growing number of clients who are homeless or in unstable housing situations. We can also customize the kits based on the number of family members and lifestyles. The HomeStart kits will make the recipients more secure and self-sufficient in new housing, and keeps them engaged in the programs and services that sustain their health.

When the Senator announced his support for the program, he said: “Newly housed individuals and families often come from a homeless situation or from living with friends or family and have no basic household items. HVCS’ HomeStart initiative will alleviate those costs by providing materials and allowing these individuals or families to direct their resources to obtaining the best healthcare they can.” We are delighted to collaborate with Senator Carlucci to ease the burden on low-income people who are restarting their lives in new housing, and we offer our sincere thanks.

Casting Company Looking for Real People Living With HIV

March 23rd, 2017

GENUINE, a casting company, is casting a project featuring Real People with HIV, and they asked us to spread the word. They’re looking for real people who have been diagnosed with HIV to be featured in a Video and Print campaign. Those selected will be compensated.

If interested, fill out the online questionnaire at the link below ASAP to be considered:
https://form.jotform.com/70575770269971
It’s a nationwide search so please feel free to SHARE this information with anyone you think may be interested.

HVCS does not endorse nor receive compensation from GENUINE. We simply thought you might like to know!

Employee Spirit Day at HVCS: Go Green or Rainbow!

March 17th, 2017

On Friday, March 17, 2017–St. Patrick’s Day–HVCS held its first Employee Spirit Day of the year with a “Go Green or Rainbow!” theme. Staff who opted to participate came dressed in their Irish (for a day) best or in rainbow hues. Employees also donated to the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow–raising funds for our new Employee Directed Fund. This new pool of contributions will be doled out by a committee made up entirely of staff members. The committee is currently gathering ideas for projects and programs that will directly and concretely help our clients and outreach contacts.

Thanks to everyone who participated!