of work gloves by my co-worker; she has a look of determination on her face.
Before continuing the story...the medical agency I work for is called The AIDS
Care Group. The Agency was organized in 1998 by a group of health care
workers who wanted to serve the uninsured HIV + community in Chester, PA
(a city twenty minutes away from Philadelphia). The agency is run by one of
the original founders, Dr. Howell Strauss. One of the first things ACG
recognized from the beginning is that, when other basic needs are not met, a
client would be unable to concentrate on his or her medical needs. With that
knowledge various programs were launched to help clients have all those
needs met. Essentially, a client can walk in, receive both breakfast and lunch
while having a medical, dental and nutritional visit.
This is my 8th year packing Turkey Baskets to feed our neediest clients. I was
asked to work with two co-workers who have never been part of this yearly
tradition. We had a list of about 250 families receiving a Turkey Basket this
year. By the time I came into work at 9 a.m , my co-orkers had already set up
an assembly line. The tables were set up with fresh vegetables, canned
goods and frozen turkeys that would make a full Thanksgiving meal. By lunch
time and what seemed like a lifetime of giggling and working at a farmers
market, all 250 Turkey Baskets were ready to be handed out. Several of our
clients were already coming in to pick up their Basket, discretely being sent to
see some of my co-workers. As I took my gloves off to go back to my day to
day job of administrative work I smiled as I realized that in less then 3 weeks...
we’d be doing the same thing for Christmas. Just that instead of food it
would be children’s toys.
The feel good sensation days like this give me,
is why I began working for my agency. I often
work late nights biting my nails off as the we try
www.ambiente.us DECEMBER | DICIEMBRE 2009
AIDS Care Group - Loving Brotherly Love
story and photography by Armando Diaz, excerpt by Guadalupe Diaz
Philadelphia is a historical, hard working, and cosmopolitan blend of so many things.
One constant seems to be the community based love that seeps into businesses and
organizations like the AIDS Care Group. On a recent visit to Philly to reconnect with a
childhood friend (who Facebook-ed me) and investigate opportunities, I was given an
up close and personal tour of ACG and it’s amazing growing facilities. Dr. Howell
Strauss’s intrinsic collection of artwork and artifacts adorn the rooms and halls of these
unique offices, imprinting an impressive flavor at the AIDS Care Group.
The importance of such an organization to the community, especially with what it has to
offer, is vital for me to broadcast...Armando-style.
During this season of thanks, in the spirit of the holidays and adding an even more
personal touch to the efforts and character of AIDS Care Group, I asked one of the
outreach coordinating supervisors (Lupe Diaz) to share a brief account of a day in the
office. Vamos a ver what’s she’s up to...
“It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving and I’m headed into the main medical office for
my agency in what is not my usual work wear.
I’m in jeans and a hoodie. When I’m walking towards the white
unmarked building that looks just like any other house in the
neighborhood I see about 30 of my co-workers and a small
number of our clients all dressed similarly. I’m handed a pair
MIAMI RIVER INN
Wine Parties &
to figure out ‘what we can do as a team’, to bring more income to our non profit
agency. We’ve seen many other non profits have to close their doors as this
economy has made it harder to be able to operate.
So our AIDS Care Group plans a future where we do more for profit work so
we can put dollars back into our non profit side. ‘We have learned the art of
fund raisers via the arts’. We do all this in the hopes that no matter what race,
gender or sexual orientation can live with the dignity and humanity we are all
Human service organizations (such as ACG) provide a range of vital services,
offering support and assistance to meet many needs of members of our HIV+
community. They can range from small neighborhood groups to non-profits
focused on a single issue to large multi-service organizations that serve the
entire state. These organizations operate programs that empower and
protect, working to combat hunger, crime, abuse, homelessness, and other
injustices such as discrimination. Volunteering, fund-raising, and action keep
these increasingly necessary places up and running.
Considering Pennsylvania? Well, for more information on the
expanding and unique Philadelphia area agency, please visit
CLICK HERE for more Armando Diaz, Jr.
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