Open House Showcases Programs and Volunteers – Part 1

On February 9, AIDS Services of Austin hosted the second of its Monthly open house at its Cameron Road offices. Open to the public, the aim of the occasion: “to foster communication with the Austin community on why ASA is OH_Demographicsso important,” said Executive Director Paul Scott. Since opening its doors in 1987, ASA has provided invaluable support and validation to people living with HIV and AIDS in Central Texas – but the mission does not end with medical care. As Board Member Patrick Roth put it, “We have the tools to put a stop to this epidemic right now – by getting out in the community. ASA and other grassroots organizations are the only ones really doing it.” And as pointed out by Board Member and pro-bono client attorney Fred Suttan, the need for community-based care is just as evident in 2016 as in the initial epidemic of the 1980s and 90s: “It’s shocking that in Austin, Texas, in 2016, someone can be threatened with disclosure of their status to yield influence, especially those of limited means. Clients are always so grateful for the work we do.”

Part of engaging the community means highlighting those initiatives fueled by the volunteers who donate their time and energy to improve the health and wellbeing of HIV positive Central Texans and those at risk.  The Open House was one hour and included lunch along with a short tour of the facility by Paul Scott. It gave visitors a close up of three integral ASA care and prevention programs.

Helping Hands Food Bank

The food bank is entirely volunteer run, with an average of 200 volunteers clocking in each year – a total of 4,000 hours were logged in 2015 alone! It is designed as a supplementary nutrition program to keep clients healthy andOH_FB_Volunteers make medication adherence easier with balanced nutrition. Serving on average 200 clients a month, it provides a variety of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs, and proteins, including vegetarian-friendly options. Items are individually packaged in single servings to make meal planning and prep easier. Additionally, household items and personal hygiene products are provided on a rotating basis each month. Helping Hands is also one of the few food banks in Texas serving up vegetable juice, and is partnered with Austin non-profit Urban Roots to supply clients with organic produce options.

Unlike many other nutrition assistance programs, Helping Hands clients are able to customize their own monthly menus, allowing them to exercise autonomy in their healthcare regime by choosing what goes into their bodies. “We put the emphasis on client choice,” said Food Bank Director Jennifer Searight, “and it’s much nicer than getting a random box!”

The food bank is open twice a month, 3 days a week. To qualify, clients must be at or below the federal poverty level and must be case-managed, though not necessarily through ASA.

Our Monthly Open House is open to the public.  register here.

Thank you Nori Hubert for submitting this post.