New programs at ARCS!

After two years of cuts to our core contracts by New York State government and the closure of long-standing programs, ARCS is pleased to announce the addition of four new services to its roster of comprehensive programs. Current funding priorities have focused on bringing underserved populations into the healthcare system, and ARCS is able to draw on its twenty-five years of experience and excellence to deepen our services to those in need.

Increasing Access to Care

Our new healthcare access and enrollment program, which began operating in November, reaches out to HIV-positive Hudson Valley residents who are not currently engaged by the healthcare system. Its main objective is to provide outreach and education to enhance early access to quality healthcare for HIV+ people of color, and to decrease disparities in health outcomes for minority populations. Two healthcare enrollment specialists, one serving the Mid-Hudson region and one operating in Lower Hudson, will outreach to 600 HIV-positive people to enroll them in ADAP (the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program) and other healthcare coverage each year. “We want to let people know what health care options are available to them, especially those who think they don’t have options,” said Liz Lacy, ARCS’ Director of Client Services. “This program will not only connect underserved, low income minorities with medical care, but will also help them understand their test results, the importance of staying adherent to treatment regimens, and link them to other services ARCS can provide.”

Better Nutrition, Healthier Lives
In March, ARCS officially expanded its successful THRIVES Nutrition program from Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties to the Lower Hudson region. THRIVES South will ensure that HIV-positive residents of Westchester and Putnam counties and their dependent children have access to nutritional foods that promote health and increase their ability to manage their HIV and the medical complications wrought by its treatment regimens. A nutritional coordinator teaches enrolled clients how to shop for nutritional foods, and supplies them with grocery vouchers to encourage greater independence and healthy food choices. Many clients receive prepared grocery bags from our Putnam Valley, Hawthorne, and Mount Vernon offices. The program also serves those who are home-bound and cannot make it to a supermarket by delivering bags of highly nutritious foods. To participate, clients must attend nutrition classes and are phased to more independent tiers over time. The program, which replaces our more traditional food pantry services, is also staffed by a program assistant. THRIVES South has already had more than 90 referrals for services, well on its way to meeting its annual goals.

How You Can Help
For decades, ARCS’ Westchester and Putnam offices were able to offer a traditional supplemental food pantry as well as a clothing “closet” filled with donated gently-used clothes and household items. Grants and donations from supporters, including a $15,000 legislative grant supplied by New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and $5,000 donated by Nordstrom, enabled us to provide over 6,000 bags of groceries to our clients in 2009. In order to make room for the new THRIVES South nutrition program, ARCS was forced to discontinue its clothing “closets” and downsized our food pantry. Many of the former pantry clients will be enrolled in THRIVES, and the remainder will still be able to get supplemental groceries from our smaller food closet.

While our food services remain constant, we are no longer able to accept donations of clothing, household items, baby items, or furniture. However, we still need donations of non-perishable foods, toiletries such as shampoo, deodorant, soap, etc., and household cleansers including laundry detergent. To arrange for a donation drop-off or for assistance with organizing a food drive, please call (914) 345-8888.

Reaching Out to Disenfranchised Communities

ARCS’ newest program, Project Reach Out (PRO), aims to engage active substance users who are not currently in treatment and connect them to a variety of resources. PRO will operate out of mobile van in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties, primarily in those counties’ urban areas. A program supervisor, an outreach specialist and three peer educators will offer and encourage HIV testing, connect those who test positive or are already HIV-positive with extensive medical and support services, and encourage users, especially those who are HIV-positive, to enter recovery and addiction services. Staff will also offer needle exchange through the Expanded Syringe Access Program and health education. With a target of reaching 1,100 individuals, the PRO team will increase access to drug treatment for active users and increase awareness of users’ HIV status.

Community Health Alliance for Prevention Services: CHAPS
CHAPS will offer a broad array of services and activities organized around the needs and characteristics of young men who have sex with men (YMSM) living in the urban areas of Westchester County. We will focus our efforts on two sub-groups within this population, 16-18 year olds and 19-24 year olds. The program design includes a menu of interventions that are appropriate for each of these sub-populations. CHAPS will focus on targeted outreach in a variety of venues including the internet and on group interventions, individual level interventions, HIV and STD testing, and referrals to healthcare and other supportive services. The goal of the program is to reduce the growing rate of HIV and STDs among YMSM, and to improve their health and wellness by targeting knowledge, attitude and behavior.

To find out more about any of these programs, please call (914) 785-8326.

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