LATEST NEWS & STORIES

  • Fundraising events are more than just opportunities to raise money for noble causes, they are opportunities to unite communities around vital issues. Dining Out For Life, a one day dining event in which restaurants join together in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is an event about raising awareness and coming together to uplift our friends and neighbors that are in need of support. With the assistance of event sponsors like Avita Pharmacy, ASA has been able to produce some amazing events that impact our clients and cater to the mission of our agency. Recently, we were able to pick the brain of our Dining Out For Life presenting sponsor and find out why the ASA mission and vision resonates with their company!

    Avita-Pharmacy-LogoQuestion:  Why does Avita care about ASA’s mission?

    Answer: Avita cares about ASA’s mission because of their unwavering support and service in the HIV/AIDS community and their commitment to fighting stigma. Our values are parallel, and we are working towards the same goals as ASA. We are proud to call them a partner.

    Question: In what ways does Avita see HIV impacting its neighboring communities?

    Answer: With 7 locations across the south, we have seen firsthand how HIV/AIDS has impacted our communities. Our region continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV; we must do better at providing access to education, testing, and treatment. We need to continue fighting stigma. Though we’ve come very far, there is still more work to do.

    Question: From Avita’s point of view, how has HIV changed over the years and why must the fight continue?

    Answer: HIV is a continuing fight, but is no longer a death sentence. A person with HIV can now live a normal life with proper medical care and medications. But while the progress is encouraging, HIV remains a very real problem within our communities. It is important to continue the fight against HIV to work towards further advancements in the treatment of HIV and to make positive strides in fighting stigma.

    Question: If you could give someone one reason to dine out during Dining Out For Life, what would you say?

    Answer: Dining Out For Life is as easy as eating at one of your favorite participating restaurants with friends and family. Celebrate a life, past or present, and support ASA in their mission to enhance the health and well-being of the community and people affected by HIV/AIDS. Dine Out, Save Lives! 

     

  • In this second of two installments, ASA is again spotlighting one of our DOFL Ambassador volunteers, Amy Rudy.  This time, Amy provides her inspiration to others by sharing her view about the ease with which you may serve as an Ambassador.  She says, “This is a super simple way to feel good about yourself. The role is even easy for someone brand new!”

    Amy figured out pretty quickly how to come up to speed with what was needed and how she could be most effective.  “All you have to do is go to a meeting where you’re given training for the event. ASA will give you a choice of restaurants, so you can select your favorite.”  You can choose a place that you know is popular or one that is a convenient location for you.  In the Ambassador training session, “they give you all the resources you’ll need to take with you.”

    BJ's Restaurant + Brewhouse

    Photo from BJ’s Brewhouse, a participating restaurant of Dining Out For Life 2017

    Knowing the DOFL date several months ahead of time this year is also a great advantage, because it presents the opportunity to involve your friends at the same time.  Amy recommends reaching out to friends early to invite them to join you at your restaurant of choice (something she also did last year).  Amy knows that, “Word of mouth is a great way to get people engaged to come out to eat, while supporting a good cause at the same time.”  Being a DOFL Ambassador turned out to be a great opportunity for her and a close friend to do something together, while at the same time, reuniting themselves with even more friends which they had not seen in a long time.

    What is more, “In general, people in attendance felt really good knowing they were part of a community.”  As a result, Amy also raised a good bit of additional funds for ASA that evening, simply by offering donation envelopes to patron diners who wanted to do even more personally to support the agency.

    Amy hopes that this year, you’ll find the inspiration to become a DOFL Ambassador like her.  If you would like to be join the cause as an ambassador or table captain, please contact ASA Volunteer Manager Megan Satterfield (at Megan.satterfield@asaustin.org or call 512-406-6417) to learn how you can get involved for this year’s DOFL on Tuesday, April 25th too!  Ambassador training sessions are being held now through April 17th.

    Tip Recap:

    • Go to a quick 1 hour training to get info about how best to handle being an ambassador
    • Select your favorite restaurant or the restaurant you will be most comfortable at
    • Invite your friends, family and colleagues out with you
    • Use word of mouth
    • Be friendly to diners and offer them donation envelopes if they want to give additional support to the event
    • Have fun!

     

  • Today we want to shine a spotlight on one of our Dining Out For Life (DOFL) volunteers, Amy Rudy.  In this first of two spotlights on Amy, she shares her personal story with you about why she chooses to participate as an Ambassador for DOFL

    “When my close friend mentioned she was going to a meeting at ASA for DOFL Ambassador training, I decided to tag along to see what it was all about.  I ended up signing up to be an ambassador too and my friend and I partnered together at El Alma during the event. The night was fun and easy; we basically just hung out,” explained Amy. 

    As ambassadors, Amy Rudy and her friend set up their own table with a tablecloth and flowers at the front door, and chatted with the diners who entered the restaurant. Amy deeply believes that, “Ambassadors are really important to the fundraising success of the DOFL event.” She says that ambassadors at the restaurants help to ensure that word of the event is able  to spread amongst the diners in attendance, and also ensure that ASA’s communication materials  don’t get hidden at the hostess stand or left on a table and ignored. “Without an ambassador, DOFL would not have had the same emphasis at the restaurant.”

    el alma soup

    Soup from the participating restaurant El Alma.

    Events like DOFL move Amy because her brother Donald passed away from AIDS many years ago. Her personal loss has ignited her to get more involved in spreading awareness; she has even kindled that same passion in her daughter, Ellie.

    When asked why AIDS awareness is still relevant today, Amy explained that, “Awareness these days is mainly about the young people in my life, like my 18 year old daughter and her friends. Young people like them are not receiving all the information they need, and/or are not receiving it from credible sources. I don’t want all the progress that has been made to cause kids not to realize the danger of the disease. Everyone should be protected, responsible, and aware, because there’s still no cure.” 

     

    If you would like to be involved in this meaningful and easy task, please consider contacting ASA Volunteer Manager Megan Satterfield (at Megan.satterfield@asaustin.org or call 512-406-6417) to learn how you can be an Ambassador for this year’s DOFL on Tuesday, April 25th too!

    Find a full list of restaurants at DiningForLife.org.

     

  • First, let me introduce myself. My name’s Jen Searight and I’ve been the Food Bank Coordinator at ASA for just over 2 years. Next week is my last week here. It was a tough decision, but I’m leaving my role here to travel around the world. I’ve been researching my trip for quite a while and recently turned my attention to CDC recommendations for vaccinations. Travel inoculations are nothing new, but as I perused the CDC pages for country-by-country information, I was struck by the travel restrictions that exist for people living with HIV and AIDS.

    It’s 2017. When it comes to safety and travel, there are a long list of concerns that a traveler has to consider. Indeed, foreign policy and national security are not just governmental concerns; decisions made have ramifications in individuals’ lives. HIV-related travel restrictions do not often make headlines, but these deserve our attention. According to a United Nations report from 2009,  these strictures lack “…connection to some rational purpose in terms of an effective global or national response to the HIV epidemic, nor have they been clearly justified in terms of their being necessary or effective in protecting public health or the public purse.” If the UNAIDS is willing to take a stand against these, the UN’s member states should be willing to revisit their policies.

    The United Nations currently recognizes 193 entities. These sovereign nations are at liberty to develop their own policy regarding entry and exit, visas, refugees, etc. These countries are also at liberty to enforce travel restrictions for people living with HIV. Fortunately, most member states do not. Our own United States of America only rescinded our HIV-related travel restrictions in 2010. Before January 4, 2010, non-U.S. citizens who were HIV-positive could not be admitted to the United States unless granted a waiver by the Department of Homeland Security. President George W. Bush’s changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act were a quiet leap forward in equality. 

    Internationally, there is no doubt that work needs to be done. According to AIDSmap.com‘s Travel Restrictions page, “a number of countries restrict entry for people with HIV. This means that foreigners with HIV may be refused entry, denied permission to work or settle, or even be deported.” For my trip, I’ll need to carry proof of my yellow fever inoculation. And if I was going to Taiwan for more than 3 months, according to Plus magazine, I’d be required to take an HIV test and would face deportation for a positive result. 

    UNAIDS tracks travel restrictions, but changing political climates mean that planning a trip will require intensive research on a country-by-country basis. Most countries do not advertise their HIV-related travel restrictions openly. Even cursory research does not yield conclusive results in many cases. Still, this is not all bad news. Check out this UNAIDS’ infographic. Prepared in 2015, it’s slightly out-of-date–more and more countries are doing away with their restrictions. While progress is slow, if current trends continue, HIV-related travel restrictions are on their way out. And if you ask this traveler, it’s about time.

  • This Thanksgiving I am thankful for ASA by Mokshika Sharma, Full Fridge, Inc.

    full-fridge-logo-color_80px2x

    Everyone deserves access to nutritious food, just as everyone deserves access to health resources. Our mission at Full Fridge is to help with both, and this is how.

    Do good, and the rest will follow

    Our relationship with ASA started around 2 years ago. [ASA] invited one of my partners and I to help out with the Dining out for Life website. Prior to  us to helping out, we had no knowledge of this organization and all the good that it did for the community. Collaborating and helping with “Dining out of Life” for the past two years has given us a glimpse into an organization that at its core has the same values our entire team has. We both believe in access to the basics. On the surface, ASA provides a support system and tools for people affected by HIV and AIDS. However, these past few years we have learned that they provide so much more for the greater Austin area. They provide sex education, mental health support, and nutrition programs. This Thanksgiving we want to support ASA because they have supported Austin for years. We truly believe that everyone deserves the chance to a better health, and we hope that our partnership with ASA this week will help us get one step closer to that goal.

    Dining in for life

    This year, Full Fridge is partnering with ASA to offer “Dining in for life”. The company will donate 10% from all the sales from November 20th through November 27th, to ASA. So, this year, my team and I are thankful for ASA and this opportunity to collaborate. Visit www.fullfridge.com for more details.

    More about Full Fridge and its Mission

    The “American Dream”

    My team and I all come from different parts of the world: India, Venezuela, Russia, Austria. All our cultures experienced (or continue to experience) times where access to food and health care is not easy. Coming to America meant something different for all of us, but we all knew that if there was a place where we could make a difference and prove our talents it was here. And while our talents range from engineering to hospitality, all of us share a passion that again, is embedded in our cultures and families: food.

    Access to real food

    “Food is medicine,” a statement that while true, it is not the reality for 70% of the world population. If we just look at home, at the current pace, 50% of all adults in America will be obese by 2030, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. What can be done about this statistic? The main factor for many families boils down to the growing hecticness of life which borrows more and more time away from things that require our attention. “I’m tired from a long day and I don’t have time to grocery shop, cook, and clean. I just want food that is quick, cheap without any hassle.” Another statement that is becoming more and more common in America. For most, the solutions involve either spending too much money to eat proper food, which is not an option everybody has, or resorting to fast food and frozen T.V. dinners. We started Full Fridge 5 months ago as a way of answering the question “can we bring delicious, convenient, affordable, and nutritious food to everyone?”. The answer so far “yes”.

  • Submitted by Nori Hubert

    I volunteered to take photographs of the 2016 AIDS Walk and festival for ASA’s website. This year, the festival was based in Palm Park, with the Walk route heading up Brazos Street across East Sixth, up Congress Avenue, loimg_1810oping around the Capital Building and back. Even though it was blistering hot out for an October Sunday (but hey, it’s Texas) it was a very rewarding and fun experience to take photos, chat with walkers, vendors, ASA staff and volunteers, and pet all the dogs. The Mobile Testing Van was in attendance, as were rockin’ community partners such as Walgreens, Planned Parenthood, Pink & Silver Fashion, and Texas Chili Queens (side note: try the vegan chili). Austin Prime Timers led the Walk as the top fundraising organization. Senator Lloyd Doggett eloquently delivered the kick-off address. And, in true Austin fashion, there was plenty of live music to keep the spirits high. There was also a Ribbon Memory Tree in the middle of the park, where folks could tie sparkling tulle ribbons in red, white, or silver to honor loved ones, and chalkboard where participants could write their reasons for walking.

    I wrote: “For survivors, like me.”

    I came very close to a positive diagnosis when I was eighteen years old. I’m still not entirely sure how I managed to escape a three-year period of sexual abuse free of disease, especially since at that time I had no access to quality sexual health care. I was so afraid coming out of that, it took me another three years before I worked up the courage to get tested. I know I am lucky – I am old enough to remember the AIDS crisis of the early 1990s, when there were still images on TV and in the newspapers of dying people. It could have been me. Every day, I express gratitude that all my tests came back negative.

    But I am still afraid. Not for myself, because now I am empowered and in control of my health, but because so many people even just a few years younger than myself don’t realize that AIDS is not a thing of the past. We have come so very far in prevention, treatment, and life expectancy since that fateful summer in 1981, but 15,000 new infections occur in the United States alone each year (last year, there were 300 new cases in Austin) in young people age 15-25, with queer youth and youth of color at highest risk.

     That’s why I am proud to contribute time to and organization like AIDS Services of Austin – it is an honor and privilege to be a small part of work that literally saves lives.img_1925

     I saw the Prime Timers carry the AIDS Walk banner high. I saw multiple groups and individuals in the crowd with signs and banners baring photos of friends and family claimed by the virus. I saw too many ribbons tired to the Memory Tree and In Loving Memory Of’s written on the chalkboard. One walker wore a handmade shirt that read “32 Years Positive, Still Very Strong.” Senator Lloyd Doggett gave a moving speech urging each of us to fight for our health with our vote.

    I am afraid for my community. But I am also proud: we have survived (and thrived) despite this disease and the stigma that comes with it. I am proud to walk beside so many courageous people because we are walking in the footsteps of those who have walked on from here – and forging the trail for those who come after. The media badge is just a perk!

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