Iris House is entering our 25th year of services to the community. This is a really exciting time as we continue to provide critical support services to persons who are HIV+, people who are unaware of how to prevent HIV infection, those who are living with other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, persons who are food insecure and those who face chronic homelessness. Our services have continued to evolve as we focus on the needs of women, men and families in communities hard hit by various socio-economic disparities. In order to evolve we continue to implement new programs, like our new client choice community pantry and education program and our new housing program for persons diagnosed with mental health or substance use disorders. We are excited that our HIV Prevention and Education services have expanded nationally through a new grant from ViiV Healthcare to support Love Your Life, a program to connect women living with HIV across the country to resources in their local communities and online. Our Board of Directors continues to evolve by adding new members, such as Vanessa Johnson, a fierce HIV advocate for women and we continue to look for others to join our dynamic board. Our staff evolve by learning new interventions that can better educate those they serve and our leadership team stands ready to take the organization into its next phase.
I have been at Iris House for over 12 years and I have seen the tremendous work the organization does in New York and New Jersey and the amazing work at the national level on various committees. I hear countless stories from clients who say that Iris House has saved their life, whether it be a woman who was using street drugs for many years and had nowhere else to turn once she learned of her HIV diagnosis or young men who come for i-Zone, our weekly group for GBTQ men, because it’s the only place they feel safe and supported. Recently a client just walked up to me and hugged me and simply said “Thank You” and a staff member who was out on medical leave text “I really miss you guys”. As we think about 25 years of serving our community and what the future holds for Iris House, it’s this community of people that helps me to know it’s worth it and the work we do really does save lives!
This message originally appeared in the 2017 Fall Newsletter.
We often talk about how Iris House's prevention and outreach teams are out and about: in 2016, we delivered high-touch HIV101 and Prevention Interventions to nearly 700 people and provided 2200 individuals with HIV, Hepatitis C and STI testing. But that doesn't even come close to counting the thousands of people we interact with in health fairs, street fairs and other events.
June is a particularly busy month in the field for Iris House, and our teams appeared in full purple and orange at Queens Pride, Brooklyn Pride, the Bronx Borough President's Pride Celebration, NYC's Pride March, NYC Pride Fest, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and Folsom Street East. Special mention to our team members Antionettea Etienne and Leroy S., whose presence in any Pride Celebration brings cheers of welcome and recognition -- for both them and Iris House!
This year, we were especially delighted to be selected this year as beneficiaries of not only Folsom Street East, but also of a pre-FSE party thrown by the Bully Boyz at the New York Eagle.
Iris House's team is working to End the Epidemic! Like us to join you at your health fair or event? Contact Ken at (646) 548-0100 x303. Like to table with us on September 16 (in NJ) or September 30 (in NYC) for our own Community Health Fair? Contact Michael at (646) 548-0100 x222.
For the community, in the community, of the community: it’s been an exciting spring at Iris House and you’ve probably been around to see some of it! In addition to the new outreach programs you’ve read about on page one, May was a flurry of activity, and we are exhausted (in a great way!)
On May 1st, we had our 8th collaborative fundraiser with celebrity stylist Christo, of Christo Fifth Avenue and Curlisto. He’s been an amazing supporter of ours for over a decade, and we are deeply grateful to him for his ongoing support. This year we tried something new and ventured to a rooftop event space in midtown, The Attic! With friends from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington DC in attendance, we got to celebrate the beginning of our 25th Anniversary Year. It’s hard to believe, but Iris House began its life in 1992 and began delivering services to the East Harlem community in 1993. We will be commemorating our Anniversary with a special project next Spring: be sure to watch out for it!
On Monday, May 8th, we produced the 12th annual Women as the Face of AIDS Summit, and this year with the theme “Resilient, Fierce and Wise,” we offered a challenge to our community to come together in strength and wisdom, stand up for themselves and help advocate for each other. We are all concerned about Ending the Epidemic, and the news from our
Federal Government gets grimmer and grimmer each week. One of our lessons is that we need to come together as a single community: people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions and our allies, families and friends and fight for our needs. We all have to rally together, to stand and protest, to call our representatives and to make our voices heard. We hope this year’s Summit brought some inspiration to you. Though we had to postpone our May 13th Health Fair (to September 30, join us then!), we were out on the route at AIDS Walk New York (and breaking our team’s record with over $14,000 raised!)
We continue to sit on and take leadership roles in NY State End the Epidemic workgroups and the New Jersey HIV Planning Group to ensure that our voices — and in particular the voices of women of color — are actively part of the conversations.
As I write this, we’re into June, which is Pride Month here in NYC and our prevention and outreach teams will be all over the City helping people to know their status, get connected to care and have greater independence over their lives!
Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director
Post by Guest Blogger Anne Forbes
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