March is the time to march against HIV/AIDS
By Kelly McCann
March! I’m referring to the proper noun, not the verb.
I love this month! March has always been special for me. When I was a young girl, March heralded the arrival of softball season, which was for me akin to a religious experience. A strawberry on my leg obtained from sliding safely into second base was far better than any stigmata.
Throughout my childhood, my mother made March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, a festive day in our Irish-heritage household. The leprechaun would visit, leaving green and white mints for me and green beer for the adults. I now see the adults got the better end of the deal.
Later, in 1979, during my senior year in high school, March took on singular significance. I came out on March 23, after being felt up in the back seat of a Chevy Caprice following The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Ain’t that romantic?
I still celebrate my coming-out anniversary each March, but the month now has an even more important event associated with it—AIDS Walk Houston, the largest AIDS fundraiser in the Southwest.
Proceeds raised through the walk support the work of AIDS Foundation Houston and 18 other AIDS service organizations and clinics. Together, walk beneficiaries provide medical care, food, housing, counseling, case management, and other supportive services to thousands of HIV-infected Houstonians each year, as well as offering HIV testing and life-saving prevention information to our entire community.
The 19th AIDS Walk Houston is March 9 in Sam Houston Park. For more information, or to register, please visit www.AIDSWalkHouston.org or call 713/403-WALK. Listed here are the partner agencies and a little about what AIDS Walk Houston helps each of these fine agencies do.
AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc. provides a full array of prevention interventions and supportive services, including food and housing programs, to men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS. Details: 713/623-6796
Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative improves the health and lives of HIV-infected children and families through comprehensive care and treatment, health professional training, and multi-center clinical research. Details: 832/822-1038.
Bering Omega Community Services provides compassionate care to low-income and disenfranchised individuals living with HIV/AIDS, including dental, day care, housing, and hospice programs. Details: 713/529-6071.
Bread of Life Inc. empowers the less fortunate with compassion by providing a continuum of care and by using a community network approach Details: 713/650-0595.
Brentwood Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to providing education and supportive services to people with HIV/AIDS. Details: 713/852-1451.
Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. is a multi-faceted social services agency specializing in job placement and substance-abuse treatment. Details: 713/754-7000.
The Center for AIDS Information and Advocacy empowers people living with HIV to make informed decisions about their healthcare by providing the latest research and treatment information. Details: 713/527-8219.
Families Under Urban and Social Attack, Inc. (FUUSA) strives to address societal problems that affect families by empowering the community through education, prevention, research, advocacy, intervention, and collaboration. Details: 713/651-1470.
Houston Buyers Club improves the quality of life for people with health-related conditions through nutritional education and affordable nutritional supplements. Details: 713/520-5288.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, Inc. provides legal assistance in civil matters to low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. Details: 713/228.0735.
The Lazarus House is a nonprofit organization that provides a low-cost program of wellness in a comfortable environment for clients suffering from muscle loss due to chronic illness. Details: 713/526-5071.
Legacy Community Health Services is a federally qualified health center open to all Houstonians. Legacy specializes in HIV/AIDS testing and treatment for all members of our community. Details: 713/830-3000.
New Hope Counseling Center, Inc. is a community-based agency working to find solutions to the health and social problems of minorities and new immigrants. Details: 713/776-8006.
Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, Inc. provides healthcare, testing, information, and education so that people can make informed decisions to live and love the way that is best for them. Details: 713/522-6363.
Rapha House Outreach Center, Inc. seeks to provide HIV/AIDS services in Northwest Houston that will prevent health disparities and give hope to communities of color. Details: 713/668-6868.
Resurrection MCC maintains an HIV Benevolence Fund that assists those with HIV/AIDS status with food, utility assistance, rental assistance, gas cards, and other resources. Details: 713/861-9149.
Southeast Texas Legal Clinic provides free legal advice and representation to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Houston area. Details: 713/523-7852.
Spay-Neuter Assistance Program, Inc. works to prevent the suffering and death of cats and dogs due to overpopulation, especially in low-income areas. Details: 713/862-3863.
Texas Children’s Hospital–Department of Allergy & Immunology provides testing, treatment, clinical trials, and social services to children, adolescents, and pregnant women living in Houston and surrounding cities. Details: 832/824-1319.
AIDS Walk Houston is the year’s most important fundraising event for our local HIV community. So put on your sneakers, grab your checkbook, and get out there on Sunday, March 9!
Join 15,000 of your friends and neighbors at Sam Houston Park. You can people-watch, enjoy the entertainment, get a little exercise, learn about HIV/AIDS and our local service providers, remember your friends and loved ones, show your support, and raise money.
Make this March something special and walk the Walk, please.
March! This time, it’s the verb.
Kelly A. McCann is the chief executive officer of AIDS Foundation Houston, which recently marked 25 years of service. Details: www.aidshelp.org.