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.