Happening in Kansas City
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Good Samaritan Project (GSP), which has provided HIV-related services in Kansas City since 1984, will move its offices to 5008 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, Mo., in late December to better serve clients. The area of the metro around the new location is near the epidemiological center of local HIV infections, and it has some of the city’s greatest unmet social and health needs.
Many members of the public have the perception that HIV is now easily managed and that those who need care can readily find it. But that is not the case for everyone. Higher rates of HIV infection among persons of color, low-income people and homeless people increase the risk of transmission within those populations.
GSP’s services have evolved as the treatment and care options for HIV/AIDS have changed. But the agency’s holistic and dignified approach to care has resulted in great success in viral suppression.
An inclusive, ‘whole person’ approach
Good Samaritan Project provides inclusive, comprehensive and integrated health and wellness services to those affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. As an integral part of the LGBTQ community, GSP welcomes clients of all genders and orientations, whatever their health status, background, orientation, age or identity.
Caroline Huffman, the CEO of GSP, places a high value on human dignity, and she’s a strong believer in cultural humility, contending that there is no such thing as true cultural competence. Huffman believes that this humble approach, along with radical hospitality, can lead to a warm and welcoming environment and foster meaningful inclusion. Keeping these practices uppermost in one’s mind prevents staff-client interactions from backsliding into perfunctory transactions. Building and maintaining relationships with clients, with authentic compassion and genuine friendliness, leads to better outcomes.
Nearly 35 years in, GSP is at the forefront of sexual-health service delivery. Adopting a “whole person” perspective, GSP offers case management, mental health counseling, emergency and transportation assistance, HIV-prevention services and testing directed toward those most at risk for infection. Staff also can refer clients to other providers and help clients acquire health insurance.
Good Samaritan Project receives funding through the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. Four providers in Kansas City receive these funds: GSP, KC Care Health Center, Truman Medical Center and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Of these four, GSP serves the second-highest number of HIV/AIDS clients.
A primary goal of HIV treatment is viral load suppression, which helps clients enjoy better health and require fewer physician appointments. These clients are also 96 percent less likely to pass on the virus. For the 12 months that ended Aug. 31, GSP had the highest viral load suppression percentage of the four local grant recipients: 93 percent of its clients achieved viral suppression. The average for all four recipients was 86 percent.
More than half of GSP’s clients are persons of color, and half fall below the poverty line. Many GSP clients deal with stigma and discrimination fueled by racism, homophobia, financial insecurity, and more. The spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities that we recognize today can combine with other elements such as race and class to make cultural humility more important than ever.
Good Samaritan Project has a significant number of clients who have been HIV-positive for many years, and these individuals will require support well into the future. GSP also serves our homeless neighbors. Recently, GSP has partnered with Hope Faith Ministries and Artists Helping the Homeless. These organizations provide activities related to HIV prevention, education and testing, and GSP’s presence at those activities has given it greater access to high-risk individuals (with regard to HIV transmission). Another reason that outreach to the community is necessary is due to the poor state of mass transit in Kansas City.
Finding a new space
Good Samaritan Project has been located at 3030 Walnut St. The building is multi-story but has no elevator, and it recently sold to a new owner. Huffman asked the new landlord about installing an elevator, but he told her that that was not feasible. For this and other reasons, Huffman began looking for a new home for GSP.
For six to eight months, she searched for a building that was accessible, safe, affordable and near mass transit stops. She found a space at 5008 Prospect Ave. It is located within the 64130 zip code, one of two local zip codes that have the highest rates of HIV and the lowest life expectancies.
The new address’ location at the epicenter of local HIV infection is both symbolic and practical. It shows that the organization wants to be close at hand for its current and future clients, and the office’s proximity to many clients’ homes makes connecting easier. The Mary L. Kelly Center and Covenant Presbyterian Church – two other community-minded organizations – are near the new location.
Huffman is hoping to add a licensed mental health staff member in the near future. She said that mental illness occurs in HIV patients at almost twice the rate as it does in those who are not infected. This is yet another stigma borne by many GSP clients.
Another important difference worth noting is that there will be no on-site clinic at the new address. Huffman said this deficiency would be overcome by having a mobile medical unit make regular visits to the facility.
GSP has employed a bilingual (Spanish-English) community prevention specialist for many years. It now has three bilingual staff members. The 20-person staff includes people of African, Asian and Latin American descent.
An ever-present question that GSP planners seek to answer and act upon is: “How do we engage persons of color?”
Huffman regularly meets with the Rev. Eric D. Williams and D. Rashaan Gilmore, and she highly values her relationships with these two men, as well as GSP’s relationships with their organizations. Williams is the pastor at Calvary Temple Baptist Church, 2940 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo. His church is home to the Calvary Community Outreach Network (CCON), which provides AIDS prevention and education, predominantly in the local Black community.
Gilmore is the founder and president of BlaqOut, which is made up of advocates, activists and health-care professionals working to address the psycho-social and environmental challenges faced by Black queer/same gender-loving (SGL) men in the greater Kansas City area.
Huffman believes that honesty and transparency are necessary in any collaboration where sharing resources is key. These men are her friends. She also says that “formality for formality’s sake” can sometimes stifle great ideas.
According to Huffman, organizations like CCON and BlaqOut are in many ways more important than GSP, because they engage people directly in their communities. She views them as incredible partners, noting that not much gets done without partnerships built on solid relationships. As a straight White woman, she knows that she needs partners like Williams and Gilmore to help GSP provide services to so many people who are vulnerable and perhaps righteously incredulous of outsiders.
One initiative of CCON is Taking it to the Pews (TIPS), a church-based
health program that empowers places of worship to help reduce the spread of HIV. TIPS partners distribute culturally and religiously tailored materials to congregation members. CCON staff provide technical assistance and perform testing.
People in minority communities have traditionally sought out churches for help and healing. The paradigm for HIV education, treatment and care in communities of color is often different from the model that was built based on the gay White male experience of the 1980s and ’90s. It’s important to respect cultural differences, rather than riding in as some uninvited savior.
Each March, CCON participates in the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS of Greater Kansas City. The week is sponsored by Balm in Gilead, an African diaspora-focused group that focuses on prevention and healing diseases such as HIV/AIDS through the work of faith institutions.
BlaqOut’s focus is the health of Black queer/SGL men. It recently completed a landmark health and wellness needs assessment for Black queer/SGL men in the Kansas City area, called the BlaqOut 2020 Vision Survey. The comprehensive survey sets a baseline for the group in question and will be a source of data to aid researchers and community organizations for years to come. Both Good Samaritan Project and the Calvary Community Outreach Network were partners in the survey.
Gilmore said that one thing that Black LGBTQ Kansas Citians desperately need is a place to come together – a safe space of their own to share experiences and be themselves. Be it a bar, coffee shop or some other endeavor, its presence is overdue. BlaqOut has its offices at GSP and will move with GSP to the new location.
Williams has worked in HIV prevention and education for about 25 years. He knows that many people were left behind in the church’s early work in that field. Now, when he sees that something hasn’t been working, he is open to new ideas and approaches.
All three leaders know that there are people out there suffering, feeling as if they don’t belong. Their access to community has been forbidden. They need to be met where they are and lifted up in an earnest and dignified way.
By maintaining their relationships with each other and connections among their organizations, Huffman, Williams and Gilmore hope to achieve a synergy that they can use to power their future work.
The breakfast will be at 7:45 a.m. Nov. 30 at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, Mo. Tickets, at $15 per person, are available at ccon-kc.org. No walk-ins.
Testing at GSP
Good Samaritan Project offers free HIV and STI testing during walk-in hours, by appointment and at outreach events. Walk-in testing hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 7:30 p.m.
Free condoms, personal lubricant and other safer-sex materials are available at GSP. Staff can also provide resources, education and referrals for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and community presentations on HIV and STI prevention.
Donations to GSP
Good Samaritan Project accepts donations of both time and money. With the new location, there will be a new energy for the volunteer program. Volunteers will be trained to become meaningful ambassadors in the community.
Donor engagement will also be a priority. Just as client-staff interactions should be vital, authentic relationships instead of numbing and transactional, so, too, should donor-GSP interactions be meaningful. To learn more about becoming a donor, visit gsp-kc.org/get-involved.
GSP has done something unique with its annual signature fundraising event: they’ve split it into a series of six uniquely themed dinners and events called FLAVOR! Jonathan Gregory and Kristopher Dabner co-chair the series, which Dabner refers to as friendraising.
Hosts of the FLAVOR! events often open their homes and cover the costs of food, drink and entertainment so that all profits go to GSP. Prices vary among the events.
The remaining three events are described below. Go to flavorkc.org to reserve a spot.
Nov. 3 – Día de los Muertos: Celebration of Life & Art
You’ll enjoy Mexican finger foods, sugar skulls, and margaritas in front of life-size catrinas as musicians play. And you’ll have the chance to bid on Hugo Ximello-Salido’s art in a silent auction.
Nov. 4 – Fashion. FLAVOR! Fun.
Join your friends at GSP for a Flavor!-ful fashion show featuring local designers and entertainment as style takes center stage.
Nov. 5 – Our Peruvian President
Hosted by GSP board president the dinner will feature a variety of dishes from the land of the Incas – all cooked to perfection by Gabby’s Peruvian Restaurant & Catering. And post-supper pisco sours are de rigueur, of course.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
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Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.