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pathways VOLUME 17 ISSUE 3

Published by Evergreen Health Services

from the president

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PRESIDENT & CEO / Ronald T. Silverio EDITOR/ART DIRECTOR / John Carocci COPY EDITOR / Theresa Woehrel CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Justin Azzarella, John Carocci, Jennifer DeMarsh Nancy Hammond, James Sheehan CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER John Carocci ____________________________________________________

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING / 716-847-0315 FACSIMILE / 716-847-0418 E-MAIL / publications@evergreenhs.org ON THE WEB / www.evergreenhs.org _________________________________________________ Copyright 2013 by Pathways, all rights reserved. Published by Evergreen Health Services, 206 South Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14201. Pathways circulation is 5,000. Pathways is received by request by donors and supporters. Distribution is by mailing list and placement. Views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the publisher. Publication of any person or organization in articles, advertising or listings in Pathways is not to be construed as any indication of the sexual orientation or HIV status of such person or members of such organizations. Pathways cannot acknowledge or return unsolicited manuscripts unless they are accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. Pathways’ mailing list is never shared. Pathways urges readers to consult their medical practitioners about any therapies or treatment strategies in this publication. To be put on the Pathways mailing list call 847-0340 or email jcarocci@ evergreenhs.org.

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inside this issue From the President / 3 Pathways Profile: Nancy Hammond / 4 HIV Testing (and More) Goes to School / 6 Vogue For Your Life / 8 Evergreen Health Services Annual Report / 10 Introducing Evergreen Lofts / 11 AIDS Walk 2013 Recap / 12 Evergreen Welcomes Benedict House / 14 Art Therapy at the Wellness Center / 16 Hope Blooms (Again) at the Victorian / 18 Pride 2013 Recap / 19 EHS Recognized as Leader in LGBT Care / 22 ON THE COVER

A Birdhouse Created by Brian Slapnicker in the Wellness Center's Art Therapy Group

We all know that in the business world, the mantra is that you either grow — new products, new markets, new customers — or you face the very real prospect of your company dying. This is just as true in the not-for-profit world as it is in the for-profit world. And we have been growing! As the Annual Finance and Services report shows (see page 8 in this issue), we have been growing in nearly every area of our business. For example, three years ago we had a little over 900 individuals in our Care Coordination program, and today we have over 3,000 (at one-third the reimbursement!); the medical practice had a little over 600 patients, today we are seeing over 1,000; the total number of individuals receiving at least one service was 7,500, and today it is over 13,000! Our staff has grown from 117 to 170, and our budget three years ago was a little over $7 million and today it’s approaching $25 million.  We have embarked on an exciting new endeavor, partnering with Catholic Health Systems and Spectrum Human Services to create Health Home Partners of WNY, LLC — a care coordination service targeting Medicaidinsured consumers provided for in the Affordable Care Act. This will provide chronic disease management which includes HIV/AIDS.  We have welcomed a new affiliate, Benedict House, a 34 bed residential program. We have had a long-time relationship with this agency and we both agreed being “together” would benefit our consumers and allow the staff and Board of Benedict House to focus on services rather than financial survival.  We purchased a 65,000 square foot building near the medical campus to expand our housing services to include an additional 50 apartments for our inadequately housed consumers.  These are just some of the growth adventures in which we are involved. We continue to provide a unique system of onestop care to a growing consumer base that often feels isolated or invisible in the larger care system. We remain strongly committed to the growing number of consumers who see us as a safe, confidential and supportive provider of life-enhancing services. This continues to include our HIV/AIDS folks and our LGBT folks, and increasingly includes others who value our model of comprehensive, integrated care. — Ron Silverio


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Nancy Hammond Like most not-for-profit agencies, the Evergreen Association has always, to quote Blanche DuBois, depended on the kindness of strangers. Sometimes those strangers come out of nowhere, offer their help, and disappear, leaving us grateful for their generosity. But how much nicer it is when those strangers stay and become dear friends. In the summer of 2006, Nancy Hammond and Don Boswell, WNED-TV's Controller (now Vice President of Finance/CFO) and President/CEO respectively, brought together a group of local service providers to discuss the station's plan for a documentary about HIV and AIDS in Western New York and Southern Ontario. The result was AIDS: Dangerous Silence, a powerful look at the effects HIV and AIDS have had on our families, friends and neighbors. WNED aired Dangerous Silence in February of 2007, then collaborated with Evergreen (AIDS Community Services at the time) to develop a facilitator's guide so that the film could be shown and discussed in schools. Dangerous Silence has been opening young eyes to the risks and realities of HIV and AIDS ever since. Dangerous Silence wasn't the beginning of Nancy Hammond's involvement in the fight against AIDS, nor was it the end. She is the subject of this issue's Pathways Profile.

I I vowed to help as many people as I could, by giving them comfort and letting them know they are loved - Nancy Hammond

don’t remember exactly when I found out that Randy was HIV+, and I had no idea at the time how greatly his illness would influence my life. It was sometime late in 1989, before the medical advancements of today and when the stigma was even worse than it is now. Randy was like a fourth brother to me and was the most compassionate, forgiving and patient person I had ever met. He was my brother’s partner and spent every other weekend with my family rather than commuting back home to Toronto. To me, Randy’s illness progressed rather quickly—first with a series of respiratorytype problems, and then into the pneumonia which eventually caused his death. Like many others facing this diagnosis, Randy experienced the stigma of being HIV+. At a time when he needed them most, his parents and some of his siblings wouldn’t speak to him. He also faced the hurt of feeling like a leper

because of the way some medical staff treated him. Through all of this though, Randy had only one complaint: he said that if he were dying of cancer, people would feel sorry for him. But, because he was dying of AIDS, people felt he deserved to die. After Randy’s death, when the hurt and grief of losing such a wonderful person subsided, I vowed to help as many other people who were afflicted with HIV or AIDS as I could, simply by giving them comfort and hugs and letting them know they are loved, worthy and accepted. In the early 1990s, a RAIN (Regional AIDS Interfaith Network) team formed at my church, and I eagerly signed up. Our team consisted of about eight parishioners who were linked to one or two clients from AIDS Community Services (ACS). We would take our new friends shopping or to medical appointments, out to dinner, or just visit with them when they were in the


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Fights the Silence hospital. When I joined the RAIN team (and even today), people asked me how I could do this type of volunteer work; they said it would be too depressing for them. I admit it was (and still is) hard to see people succumb to this disease. It’s human nature to become attached to people you see regularly and be sad when they leave your life. However, it’s much more important to me to help someone in need rather than to worry about my own feelings. Through the RAIN program, I became active with AIDS Community Services in other ways as well: participating in the AIDS Walks, hosting some really fun Cause for Celebration parties, and coordinating the Adopt-a-Family program at WNED. When the RAIN program dissolved due to lack of funding, I became a volunteer at Benedict House. I convinced my mom to join me, and we've been volunteering there for nearly 15 years. Over the years, we’ve taken the residents bowling, to the movies and to the theatre. We coordinated Craft Night every other week, which was comical since I don’t have a creative bone in my body. But we had a lot of laughs painting pottery, carving pumpkins, making flower pots and making chocolate at Easter time. Lately, we have fun playing bingo, although it’s not quite as lively as Gay Bingo. The time I spend at Benedict House is such a bright

spot in my week, and I have met so many wonderful people over the years. I’ve cried at both weddings and memorial services for residents, and beamed with pride each time a resident reached a milestone in their recovery. As hard as it is to see them go, I’m very happy when a resident becomes well enough to leave the House and live on their own. My volunteer work has had ripple effects in my professional life. I have twice been voted by my co-workers at WNED to receive staff awards for my volunteer work at Benedict House. One of my proudest moments is WNED’s production of “Dangerous Silence,” which was the idea of our President and CEO, Don Boswell. Don had watched the documentary, “A Closer Walk,” a film about the global AIDS epidemic, and he was so affected by what he saw that he felt it was important to educate our viewers on the devastating effect HIV and AIDS were having in the Western New York and Southern Ontario region. Since Don knew this was my passion, he got me involved right from the start (despite the fact that I’m an accountant, not a producer), and I reached out to ACS and Benedict House (along with similar organizations in the Toronto area) to participate in the documentary. The final product was more powerful than any of us thought possible. The initial broadcast of

“Dangerous Silence” included a special public awareness night, in which health and community experts were in our Buffalo and Toronto studios sharing their advice and insight and answering viewers’ questions. We also had available an incredible resource kit which included a DVD of the program and answers to common questions about the disease, with contact information for resources in the community. The kit was requested by nearly 1,000 viewers that evening and was also used by the Buffalo Public Schools as part of their health curriculum. As I stood in the studio watching the flurry of activity on the phones, I couldn’t have been prouder to work for an organization that promotes diversity, inclusion, respect and equality. Currently, I serve on the Board of Evergreen Health Services and am still amazed by the comprehensiveness of services available to our community under one roof. It is so rewarding to be part of an organization that has adapted to both the evolution of the disease and the continuous uncertainty in available funding but still remains true to its original mission. My work is not done. Until a cure is found, I will continue to be an advocate for AIDS awareness and continue to share a laugh or lend an ear to someone so that they don’t have to walk through this journey alone. P


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There are some fundamental changes taking place in the way the Buffalo Public Schools address issues surrounding sexuality and sexual health, triggered in part by the results of a survey which assessed student par cipa on in a variety of risky behaviors, including unprotected sexual ac vity. In our Spring 2013 issue, Pathways reported on Evergreen Health Services' new HIV tes ng partnership with two Buffalo high schools, and Pathways will con nue to update readers on the progress of this and other much-needed programs which protect the physical and mental health of our young adults. To see a complete report on the Buffalo Schools' Youth Risk Behavior Survey visit www.buffaloschools.com.

IN 2011

the Buffalo Public Schools administered a Youth Risk Behavior Survey to 11,000 students in grades 6 through 12. Created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the survey was designed to measure the levels of student engagement in various risk behaviors that impact students' overall wellness, especially those that could put them at risk for dangerous or even life-threatening outcomes. The results of the survey's sexual behavior sec on speak volumes about the need for more educa on: • Over half of Buffalo Public School students

report having had sexual intercourse (this is 20% higher than the New York State level). • 38% are currently sexually ac ve, defined as having had sexual intercourse with at least one person during the three months prior to the survey (this is 18% higher than the state level). • One out of every five Buffalo Public School students reported having had four or more sexual partners during their life (this is 41% higher than the state level). Although many people were shocked by these results, the silver lining is that they were shocked into taking ac on. At the request of

It all happens in the schools. It wasn't designed to be


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the Buffalo Public Schools, Evergreen Health Services has begun offering free, confiden al rapid HIV tes ng on a weekly basis at Benne High School (in collabora on with their Kaleida Health Clinic). Evergreen Health Services staff has also been offering weekly HIV tes ng on-site at Tapestry Charter School since January. While the incidence of known HIV infec ons is s ll rela vely low among high school youth, the true infec on rate could be much higher than we think, as youth are far more likely to be newly-infected and therefore symptom-free, and less likely to seek out HIV tes ng than the general popula on. In fact, adolescents as a group are among the most vulnerable to HIV infec on, due to their cogni ve development, feelings of invincibility, self-esteem issues, risky behaviors and impulsivity. The experience of having an HIV test and the opportunity to ask ques ons and talk about sexual health with qualified professionals are both key to changing these sexual risk behaviors. "Kids today have very few avenues where they can obtain accurate informa on," said Jennifer DeMarsh, Test Counselor at Evergreen Health Services and one of the in-school testers. "They're desperate for knowledge and seeking out adults they can trust in order to get it. With our counselors in the schools we can combat the overwhelming amount of misinforma on they're ge ng from their peers or on the internet. Once we engage them in conversa on, they ask intelligent, though ul ques ons that are o en the same as the ones we answer when tes ng adults." Unfortunately, adolescent sexual health isn't on the radar for most funding sources, and Evergreen Health Services is working to find a dedicated source of funding that will allow this cri cal service to con nue. "People don't realize that the me to treat this as a crisis is right now," said DeMarsh. "Otherwise we'll see these kids in our wai ng room five years down the road and wonder why nobody did anything to help them." DeMarsh adds that mee ng young people on their own

turf is especially important. "When we test in the schools it's non-stop for the whole shi , but not many of them will get on a bus and come downtown to get tested at Evergreen." Early detec on and treatment is essen al to living a long healthy life with HIV, but there are other advantages to in-school HIV tes ng as well. It normalizes the process for young people, removing the mystery, fear and s gma from ge ng an HIV test. Students can also receive informa on or referrals for other health issues, including sexually transmi ed infec ons (STI). According to a recent Department of Health study, in certain Buffalo zip codes as many as 75% of high school students have had at least one STI, which seems unbelievable but DeMarsh says her observa on supports that figure. Maisha Drayton, Senior Director of Staff Development at the Evergreen Associa on, is another staff member who is passionate about educa on and working for change in the schools. "It all happens in the schools," said Drayton. "It wasn't designed to be that way, but that's how it is, and we have to adapt and change instead of slapping a Band-Aid on the problem. Right now we don't have a lot of tools that are really working for students." For the past two years Drayton has been a member of the Buffalo Public Schools Sexual Health Commi ee, a group formed to improve collabora on between stakeholders (parents, educators and the community), and develop and implement a comprehensive sex ed curriculum that is medically accurate, research-based, and aligned with state and na onal standards. The curriculum will mo vate and assist students to maintain and improve their health, prevent disease, and reduce health risk behaviors. Up un l now, state law mandated that schools cover HIV and AIDS, but the requirements were vague, and in Buffalo schools the lesson plans varied widely from school to school or even classroom to classroom. The Sexual Health Commi ee is working with teachers and schools to standardize the curriculum throughout the district. As of September 2013, approximately

half of the district's health teachers have been trained to use the new curriculum, and posttraining feedback from the teachers has so far been overwhelmingly posi ve. Buffalo's new sex ed curriculum represents an undeniable leap forward, but a number of barriers remain, such as discomfort with sexual topics on the part of parents or teachers, the enormous amount of misinforma on students deal with on a daily basis, cultural or maturity differences among students, or lack of resources (including classroom me). It's also a challenge to keep the curriculum current, and make sure it's useful to those students who are already sexually ac ve as well as those who are not. Ongoing training and refinement of the curriculum will hopefully help mi gate or even eliminate the effects of these barriers. Evergreen Health Services staff have also assisted the Buffalo schools by presen ng an hour-long sexual health seminar as part of the orienta on program for incoming freshmen. An hour is barely enough me to scratch the surface of such a complex topic, but the seminar provided an introduc on to a valuable source of informa on, resources, and suppor ve services which are available for the students. The new sex ed curriculum will address these topics in much greater depth during the school year. This is a me of incredible change in the Buffalo Public Schools' a tudes toward student sexuality. Un l the dust se les it's impossible to predict where these programs will be a year from now, let alone further into the future. But we appear to be moving in a good direc on, with schools acknowledging — and addressing — the fact that so many young people are already sexually ac ve or feeling an enormous amount of pressure to start. Expanding comprehensive sexual health educa on and in-school screening programs will give our students the informa on and skills they need to deal with this pressure effec vely, and this means good things for the students of Buffalo. Watch future issues of Pathways Magazine for updates on these exci ng programs! P

e that way, but that's how it is, and we have to adapt and change.


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9 AUTUMN SPRING 2013 2013

Vogue for Your Life (V4YL) is a new social outreach event hosted by the Pride Center of Western New York. Vogue for Your Life provides a safe, comfortable space for people who are transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or MSMs of color to express themselves, socialize, and ultimately enjoy improved access to services such as the Pride Center's Transgender Health Initiative, HIV or STD testing, primary health care or harm reduction counseling. To top it off, Vogue for Your Life is free, open to the public, and a flat out great time! Pride Center staff created the Vogue for Your Life event while looking for creative ways to tap into Buffalo's "house" culture, and engage young MSMs of color and trans individuals who are at high risk for HIV. Once the initial connection is made and a relationship is established, it becomes much easier to connect people with testing programs, the Transgender Health Initiative, or any of the services available through Evergreen Association member

organizations. Many MSMs of color and trans individuals face incredible amounts of stigma, up to and including estrangement from their families, and the house culture may well be the only support system in their lives. Vogue for Your Life allows us to create relationships which then make it possible to raise awareness of our services among the high risk communities where those services are desperately needed. The event has also helped the Pride Center strengthen its collaboration with the community partners for V4YL: the MOCHA Center of Buffalo and Evergreen Health Services' own Life Changes program. Vogue for Your Life is based on the underground vogue balls that came out of Harlem in the 1980s. Vogue balls and voguing attracted mainstream attention with Madonna's Vogue video and the movie Paris is Burning, and while voguing never went away completely, it's currently seeing a resurgence in pop and R&B culture. Vogue for Your Life follows

the format of a New York City voguing ball. Each event has a theme and a variety of categories for participants to "walk" in. Competition is fierce for the trophies (and glory) winners in each category receive. The Pride Center staff worked hard to forge connections with the local house and ballroom communities, and the Vogue for Your Life events have been received with a great deal of enthusiasm from those communities. So far, monthly attendance has averaged about 70 people. But the Pride Center isn't resting on its laurels. They are already thinking of ways to improve the event and strengthen the community connections even more. On the drawing board are workshops, mentorship programs, a video project to inform the public about Vogue for Your Life and the Transgender Health Initiative, house photo shoots, and perhaps even a Western New York version of the Latex Ball (the world's largest ball, held annually in New York City). For more information about Vogue for Your Life please visit www.pridecenterwny.org P


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Annual Report Highlights

2012 Financial Report Evergreen AssociaƟon of Western New York, Inc. Revenue: Evergreen Health Services State Grants .................................... 3,534,888 Federal Grants .....................................300,692 Medicaid/Medicare ........................ 2,551,950 Pharmacy ........................................ 9,614,441 Other ...................................................147,258 Total EHS Revenue ...................... 16,149,229 Expenditures: Evergreen Health Services Program Services .......................... 12,260,948 Management and General.............. 1,091,000 Total EHS Expenditures ............... 13,351,948 Revenue: Community Access Services State Grants ........................................431,147 Miscellaneous ............................................109 Total CAS Revenue ........................... 431,256 Expenditures: Community Access Services Program Services ................................307,846 Management and General..................107,769 Total CAS Expenditures .................... 415,608 Revenue: Pride Center State Grants ........................................311,786 Fundraising............................................18,882 Other .......................................................8,919 Total Pride Center Revenue .............. 339,587 Expenditures: Pride Center Program Services ................................315,350 Management and General....................44,121 Total Pride Center Expenditures ....... 359,471 Revenue: Evergreen FoundaƟon Fundraising............................................98,110 Contribu ons ........................................81,571 Rental Income .....................................608,089 Grants ....................................................26,330 Total FoundaƟon Revenue ............... 815,779 Expenditures: Evergreen FoundaƟon Fundraising............................................59,592 Building Costs ......................................509,568 Subsidy to EHS ......................................11,533 Total FoundaƟon Expenditures ........ 580,693

Total Fund Balance All CorporaƟons ............................ 4,022,259

2012 Services ParƟcipant Report Health and Support Services, Evergreen Health Services Medical Care ...................................................................................................................................... 858 Care Coordina on .............................................................................................................................. 995 Mental Health Counseling ................................................................................................................... 23 Monthly Housing Subsidies ................................................................................................................. 75 Emergency Assistance........................................................................................................................ 146 Transporta on Assistance.................................................................................................................. 284 Nutri on Program ................................................................................................................................ 51 Number of Meals Served ........................................................................................................... 18,564 Number of Food Pantry Visits ...................................................................................................... 1,378 Pounds of Food Distributed ...................................................................................................... 32 tons. Health PromoƟon Services, Evergreen Health Services Preven on Counseling ......................................................................................................................... 54 Preven on Groups ............................................................................................................................. 817 Outreach Contacts ........................................................................................................................ 17,000 Regional Syringe Exchange Program: Individuals Exchanging ........................................................ 3,593 Syringes Exchanged.....................................................................................................................310,602 HIV Rapid Tes ng Program: Individuals Tested .............................................................................. 2,067 Number Tes ng HIV Posi ve ............................................................................................................... 25 STD/STI Tes ng Program: Individuals Tested ..................................................................................... 498 Number Tes ng STD/STI Posi ve......................................................................................................... 55 HEP C Tes ng Program: Individuals Tested ........................................................................................ 125 Number Tes ng HEP C Posi ve............................................................................................................ 14 Health PromoƟon Services: Community Access Services Preven on Counseling ......................................................................................................................... 94 Preven on Groups ............................................................................................................................. 321 Outreach Contacts .......................................................................................................................... 2,546 Health PromoƟon Services: Wellness Center Lunches Served ............................................................................................................................. 10,400 Groups Provided ................................................................................................................................ 150 Enrolled Par cipants .......................................................................................................................... 174 Health PromoƟon Services: Pride Center Trainings ............................................................................................................................................. 636 Referrals for Health/Mental Health ..................................................................................................... 65 Visitors............................................................................................................................................. 1,145 Mee ng Par cipants.......................................................................................................................... 717 AssociaƟon Demographics Male .................................................... 6,717(62%) Female................................................. 3,811(36%) Transgender ............................................. 107(1%) Black ................................................... 2,752 (26%) Hispanic ............................................... 1,470(14%) Na ve American ............................................. 43 Asian................................................................ 10 White................................................... 4,883(46%) Other ................................................... 1,477(14%)

0-12 years of age ............................................... 3 13-19 ............................................................. 395 20-29 .......................................................... 1,615 30-39 .......................................................... 2,214 40-49 .......................................................... 2,529 50-59 .......................................................... 2,117 60-69 ............................................................. 201 70+ .................................................................... 3 Gay/Bisexual ....................................... 2,640(37%) Injec on Drug User ............................. 4,497(63%) Blood Exposure ........................................ 10 (<1%)


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E

vergreen Health Services has announced the purchase and pending redevelopment of the property located at 125-127 Cherry Street in the City of Buffalo. Currently vacant, the parcel consists of a 75,000 square foot, fivestory brick structure (above le photo) and its adjoining vacant parcels. Evergreen plans to redevelop the space into a Housing First style apartment complex named Evergreen Lo s that will provide safe, permanent, affordable housing to individuals and families who are marginally housed or struggling with homelessness; many of whom are clients of the agency and iden fy as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Evergreen Health Services is currently working with a development team that includes L.P. Ciminelli, SWBR Architects of Rochester, Southern Tier Environments for Living (STEL), and Preserva on Studios to leverage tax credits and addi onal funding resources for the project. “Evergreen has a demonstrated ability to

provide effec ve and efficient housing services,” said Ron Silverio, President & CEO of Evergreen Health Services. “We will rely on our experience to ensure the occupancy and sustainability of this project.” Preliminary plans call for Evergreen Lo s complex to consist of 50 apartments (mostly 1 bedroom units) and several common spaces. Residents of Evergreen Lo s will have direct access to the agency's established network of care services, which include medical, pharmacy, mental health, nutri on, care coordina on and transporta on services, along with health educa on, health promo on and disease specific preven on programs. “The iden fied need for this project evolved out of community-wide discussions on the impact of homelessness and poverty on Western New York’s marginalized communi es, par cularly LGBT people and their families” said Silverio.

Evergreen’s research made it clear that individuals who are discriminated against because of their sexual orienta on or gender iden ty and those struggling with physical and mental health challenges, HIV/AIDS, and Hepa s C are some of those most at risk for unstable housing and homelessness locally. “LGBT adults o en face unsafe emergency housing placements and discrimina on with housing based on sexual orienta on, gender iden ty, or gender expression,” said Jorien Brock, Senior Director of The Pride Center of WNY – an Evergreen affiliate and project partner, “as a result, LGBT persons facing homelessness have limited access to housing services.” The Cherry Street building was most recently owned by Sonic Blinds and was first built as the home of a trunk manufacturing company in the late 1800s. Addi onal informa on about Evergreen Health Services is available online at www.EvergreenHS.org. P


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Exterior photo courtes

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y of HHL Architects

Welcome Benedict Editor's Note: longtime Pathways readers are wellacquainted with Benedict House, which has been providing safe, comfortable housing and compassionate care to HIV+ individuals since the early days of the epidemic. As is true with virtually every non-profit AIDS organization, changes in the world of AIDS care meant Benedict House was being asked to do more with fewer resources. Benedict House has now officially joined the Evergreen Association family of organizations, and so Pathways asked their Director James Sheehan for a guided tour of the history of Benedict House... so far.

B

enedict House was founded in August of 1987 by the Rev. Vincent Crosby, a Benedictine priest and Buffalo native who had been working in AIDS ministry in the area for three years, while teaching at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. Father Vincent saw that in those dark days, people living with AIDS incurred staggering medical costs and often could not continue to work. They could quickly end up with no resources and nowhere to live. Realizing that one of the most critical needs for the future would be housing, both transitional and long term, Father Vincent purchased a small cottage on the west side of the city with private funds, and then a second one which served as the headquarters for Benedict House until 1995, when the current facility at 2211 Main Street, a former Merchant Marine Hospital, was purchased from Sisters Hospital and completely rehabbed into the beautiful space we now inhabit. With room for 34 residents, all of whom have their own rooms, Benedict House provides comfort and security for up to 34 men and women living with HIV/ AIDS who would otherwise be homeless. All

meals and personal needs are provided by funding from state and federal agencies as well as the generous donations of groups and individuals who have recognized the value of our mission and the importance of providing a home for so many vulnerable and often marginalized individuals. Since 1995, the face of the virus has changed dramatically. In its early years, the House provided hospice-like services for people who came here to die. Since the development of new drugs and medical protocols, the needs of the people living with the virus have evolved as well. While our mission is still to serve homeless individuals who have tested positive for HIV/ AIDS, we also provide a first rate program of counseling, education and an experience of community which has often been missing from their lives. Our trained staff provides counseling and other supports including substance abuse, art therapy, meditation and other groups. Nursing services are provided along with outside programs designed to assist those living with addiction or mental health issues. While we provide these services for as long as they are needed, our hope for each resident is that they will be able to move back into their communities,


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House! armed with the skills they need to support themselves, to establish healthy relationships and to manage their illness appropriately. In June of 2013, the Director of Benedict House started a conversation with the management team at Evergreen Health Services which resulted in the establishment of a formal affiliation between the two agencies. This conversation followed a time in which funding for HIV/AIDS decreased dramatically, challenging us to seek collaborative relationships which would sustain our work financially while also expanding the menu of services we could offer. With missions that are so similar, the connection with Evergreen is a natural and good fit. Our experience providing housing for the ill and homeless and Evergreenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to work for and with the economic and socially marginalized in our city have already created a synergy which will open up new doors for both of us. This is an exciting time for us at Benedict House. In our third decade of existence, we continue to address the real needs of the people who come to us for assistance and support. Working side by side within Evergreen gives us all the ability to continue the necessary work we do, well into the future. P


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bird


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house As part of the Art Therapy program, birdhouses were decorated by a number of Wellness Center clients to place in the Hope Blooms Garden at the Victorian for this year's Garden Walk. The Art Therapy program at Evergreen Health Services seeks to provide clients with an opportunity to give form to their ideas or feelings, and gain a sense of accomplishment by participating in the creative process. Through art therapy, the creative process becomes a platform for self-expression that can allow for the development of interpersonal skills, increased self awareness and self esteem as well as an opportunity to gain insight. At left is a birdhouse created by Brian Slapnicker. Brian is an artist active in the Art Therapy program who is busy developing his portfolio. He offers the following comments: "Art therapy is important for people to express their feelings... when I do my art I'm peaceful... I love going to the Art Therapy groups because of the interaction, you get to know people P better and it helps me get over my shyness."


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T

he Hope Blooms Garden at the Victorian has been a labor of love for Evergreen Association staff, clients and volunteers for years. The lush green foliage, colorful flowers and koi pond combine to provide a quiet backdrop for relaxation just steps from one of downtown Buffalo’s busiest intersections. Each year during Garden Walk, the Hope Blooms Garden wows thousands of first time visitors to the Victorian along with our loyal friends who return year after year (2013 marked our 10th year of participation in the annual Garden Walk tour). Over time, as the older plants grew larger and new plants were added, the soil in the Hope Blooms Garden became nutrient depleted, making it increasingly difficult for the plants to thrive. In addition, we discovered the liner of the koi pond was damaged to the point that it would have to be replaced. Our beautiful Garden looked as lovely as ever, but behind the

scenes it was in desperate need of some attention. We asked for help, and thanks to the generosity of agency supporters, we were able to go beyond simple maintenance in order to create a larger, deeper koi pond and waterfall that is now the centerpiece of the revitalized Hope Blooms Garden. The work was completed in time for Garden Walk, making our clients, staff, volunteers and visitors (not to mention our koi) very happy indeed. A koi pond and a flower garden might seem like frivolous projects for an agency that exists to serve people who are often in desperate straits. But over the years the Hope Blooms Garden at the Victorian has served as an invaluable "calling card" to tens of thousands of Garden Walk visitors; people who would not otherwise know anything about the Evergreen Association or what we do for our clients — and our neighborhood — all year round. The Hope Blooms Garden is also an important part of our emphasis on providing welcoming, comfortable,

aesthetically appealling environments for the people we serve, helping them feel healthier and more optimistic about life. Evergreen Association President and CEO Ron Silverio described this philosophy as follows in 2006: "The experience of the majority of our clients has been to receive services in cold, unwelcoming, monochromatic public buildings. Our goal is that their first and lasting impression of each of our services is of a life-giving, supportive environment. This applies to the physical environment and the spiritual environment. Whether an individual or family is living with cancer, diabetes or AIDS, everyone deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. The most effective way to send this message is by creating an attractive, comfortable physical environment, and the best way to do this is to incorporate life-giving art in all our service centers. The Garden at the Victorian is one of the most satisfying examples of this effort." P


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Above: Pride Center Senior Director Jorien Brock, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Assemblymember Sean Ryan, and Councilmember Mike LoCurto spoke at the Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall.

The 2013 Pride Festival had a growth spurt! The usual weekend of events expanded to a full week, to enthusiastic community response. The debut Gay 5K run and Jim Rolls Memorial Art Opening were popular additions to the schedule. 300 people braved the rain to walk in the Dyke March, and the Allen Street Festival drew 1,500 people. The Pride Parade nearly doubled in size from 2012, with over 100 organizations participating, and streets along the route were crowded with cheering spectators. After the parade, over 15,000 people headed to Canalside for the Pride Festival, where headliners Neon Hitch and Latrice Royale worked the crowd into a frenzy. M&T Bank showed their Pride with financial support, volunteers, and a float in the parade. Other sponsors included Barefoot Wine & Bubbly; HSBC; The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, Old Falls Street USA & Global Spectrum; First Niagara; Buffalo.com; Vitaminwater; Algonquin Studios; LP Ciminelli; embraceWNY; Family and Friends of Jim Rolls; KeyBank; Comfort Suites Downtown; Visit Buffalo Niagara; Try-It Distributing and 464 Gallery. Turn the page to see more photos from the 2013 Pride Festival, or visit our complete online photo galleries at www.buffalopridefestival.com.


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Evergreen Health Services Recognized as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality by Jus n Azzarella

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vergreen Health Services has been recognized as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality in the Healthcare Equality Index 2013, an annual survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Founda on, the educa onal arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organiza on. Evergreen Health Services earned top marks for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT pa ents and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing adequate healthcare. “LGBT Western New Yorkers are too o en faced with inadequate and discrimina ve healthcare op ons,” said Andrew Kiener, Associate Vice President of Medical Services at Evergreen. “Evergreen has been a local leader in LGBT health for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be recognized with this important designa on.” The organiza on was one of a select group of 464 healthcare facili es na onwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facili es

awarded this tle meet key criteria for equitable care, including nondiscrimina on policies for LGBT pa ents and employees, a guarantee of equal visita on for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health educa on for key staff members. Evergreen was congratulated by HRC Health and Aging Director Shane Snowdon. “LGBT pa ents deeply appreciate the welcoming environment provided by a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality. It makes a big difference to know that your local healthcare facility is fully commi ed to giving you the same care it gives your neighbors and co-workers.” For more informa on about the Healthcare Equality Index 2013, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei. Evergreen Health Services is commi ed to fostering healthy communi es by providing medical, suppor ve and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York, especially those in marginalized popula ons and/or challenged by chronic or life threatening disease. Visit www.evergreenhs. org for addi onal informa on about Evergreen Health Services. P

Evergreen Health Services earned top marks for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families


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