By Michele Zipkin
PHILADELPHIA — Philly AIDS Thrift (PAT) and Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni’s Room recently awarded $300,035 in grants to 27 Delaware Valley organizations and initiatives that provide HIV prevention, care and support. To date, PAT leadership has awarded $3.6 million in donations to community organizations.
“The staff, volunteers and Board at Philly AIDS Thrift could not be more honored to surpass our previous high, in dollars granted in a single [request for proposals] and our overall total of $3.6 million dollars granted,” Philly AIDS Thrift Board President, Michael Bryne said in a press release. “Especially at this moment when these incredible organizations doing amazing work are being challenged by the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are so grateful.”
Grant recipients include Action Wellness, AIDS Delaware, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, AIM Angels In Motion, Attic Youth Center, Bebashi Transition to Hope, Black and Latinx Community Control, Camp Dreamcatcher, Inc., COLOURS Organization, Comite de Apoyo a los, Trabajadores Agricolas, Drexel University’s Camp Bright Feathers, Drexel University’s Dorothy Mann Center, Family Service of Chester County, Family Services, LGBT Elder Initiative, Mazzoni Center, Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), RHD Morris Home, Urban Affairs Coalition programs Neighborhoods United Against Drugs and One Day At A Time, Planned Parenthood Keystone, Prevention Meets Fashion Inc, Prevention Point Philadelphia, Safehouse, Siloam Wellness, Sol Collective and William Way LGBT Community Center.
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“Since the beginning of HIV we have always realized that people with HIV are the experts and should have control and leadership,” said José de Marco, founder of Community Control, an organization composed of Black and Brown people living with HIV, whose mission is to end HIV infections and regain control of healthcare in their own communities.
“In 2022 HIV disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx QTBIPOC communities. Philly AIDS Thrift realizes and acknowledges that fact through their generous grants to us. We deeply appreciate their support of Black and Latinx Community Control of health for the past three years as we seek the liberation to control HIV in our communities,” de Marco continued.
Prevention Point Philadelphia, another grant recipient, will use the grant funds to provide syringe services, which play an integral part in mitigating HIV infection rates among people who inject drugs in Philadelphia, said José Benitez, the organization’s executive director. Prevention Point provides a variety of physical and mental health services, including medical case management, PrEP and Hep C clinics, wound care, a recovery program, linkage to housing and shelter, and prevention services.
“Prevention Point Philadelphia is proud to be a recipient of funding from Philly AIDS Thrift,” Benitez said. “Our roots are in HIV prevention and we deeply value the partnership of organizations that continue to be mission-oriented around HIV prevention.”
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Leadership in the Immunology Department at the Dorothy Mann Center for Pediatric and Adolescent HIV at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children will use their grant to send patients to one of two week-long, therapeutic, educational summer camps for youth living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. Youth will attend either Camp Bright Feathers, run by the YMCA of the Pines in Medford, N.J., or Camp Dreamcatcher in Kennett Square, Pa.
Nhakia Outland, executive director and founder of the nonprofit Prevetion Meets Fashion, will use her grant money to continue to provide HIV/AIDS and STI resources and education, part of the work she does through her sex education and social justice organization. Outland will also allocate grant funds toward PMF’s Women’s History Month HIV, AIDS and STI speaker series, which will take place in March.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity through the Philly AIDS Thrift grant to connect our community with valuable resources,” Outland said.
The leadership at the Attic Youth Center plans to use their funds to keep incorporating HIV/AIDS prevention messaging into the organization’s youth-centered programming.
“It means more young people receive comprehensive education messages so they can make informed decisions,” said John Fisher-Klein, executive director of the Attic Youth Center.
The team at the LGBT Elder Initiative will use their grant to pay for the Thrivers program, a peer support and discussion group for seniors living with HIV. The Elder Initiative serves to build bridges between aging LGBTQ individuals and culturally competent services and resources.
“This program series has been incredibly valuable in strengthening peer support networks, especially during the prolonged isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David Griffith, director of programs and outreach for the LGBT Elder Initiative. “We’re excited to further develop the Thrivers program this year and are so appreciative of Philly AIDS Thrift’s awesome support.”
PAT began its yearly grant program in 2014 with the intention of helping organizations that work to treat and prevent HIV in and around Philadelphia. The team will announce a call for the next round of grant proposals toward the end of 2022.
“It is amazing to all of us that we have surpassed [our] milestone since our inception,” PAT Co-founder and Manager Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou said in a press release. “We could not do it without our generous donors and enthusiastic shoppers. Our staff and volunteers work very hard every day to make sure that we can make the biggest difference possible in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS across the Delaware Valley.”
Michele Zipkin is a reporter for the Philadelphia Gay News, where this story first appeared.