We had a very eventful year in 2012. It is gratifying to see HIV Arkansas continue to grow as a positive force in the HIV Community. Below are a few highlights:
1. Donated $1600 to the Northwest Arkansas Regional HIV Clinic.
2. Held 20 Positive Living Support Group Meetings.
3. Educational meetings:
- HIV 101 education with AR Hope in Ft. Smith.
- Viewing of Frontline’s “The Age of AIDS” with discussion.
- Ryan White program overview by Danny Harris of ARCare
- Derrick Newby program administrator for the Arkansas Aids Education and Training Center gave presentation on his organization.
- HIV Arkansas gives presentation to classes at Arkansas Tech University.
- NWA HIV Public Forum conducted by the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and the Arkansas Minority AIDS Taskforce.
4. Hosted 2nd Annual Positive Living Retreat in Eureka Springs, Ar.
5. Hosted 2nd Annual HIV Awareness Walk in Northwest Arkansas.
6. Three Food Give-a-ways for people living with HIV..
7. Arkansas Tech University students donate 700 cans of food.
What started out as a simple food drive has evolved into one of the biggest give-a-ways ever undertaken by HIV Arkansas. Dr. Jason Ulpsberger (pictured left) and his students from Arkansas Tech University started the ball rolling for the 2012 food drive when they delivered over 700 cans of food for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Give-a-ways. In addition the congregation of Spirit of Peace Church jumped on board to bring more than $1,000 worth of food items to add to the baskets. As a result of all the generous donations we gave away a total of 50 baskets of food that contained approximately $75.00 worth of food in every box., well over $3,000 worth of food to individuals living with HIV and AIDS!
Our sincere thanks for the many people that have worked diligently to make sure this event is successful. Kristy Bengs, board member is the director of the food give-a-way and always does such a great job in gathering and organizing donations from various stores across Northwest Arkansas as well as Mark Pitts, Board member, Rev. Roy Lennington, Rev. Mark Williams and Rev. Silvia Nobles for their help in assembling the boxes. Our thanks to Cargil, Inc. for their generosity and support.
We were blessed to have so many people helping with these food drive and the 2013 Food Drive is already in the planning stage.
Thursday, November 15th, 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, December 18th, 12 Noon to 4 p.m.
The Conference Room at the Washington County Health Department
(Across the hall from the clinic)
It’s time once again for our Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Drives. Each year HIV Arkansas helps 50 families during the Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays by providing them with a basket of food. The food in these baskets is enough to feed a family for one week. We are anticipating this years give-a-way to be the biggest one we have ever had as our efforts are multiplied with the help of the members of The Spirit of Peace Community Church in Fayetteville. This welcoming congregation will be gathering food items and will help with assembling and distribution. We are blessed to have been given a faith-based family to help with this endeavor.
We have arranged with the Northwest Arkansas Regional HIV Clinic to host the give-a-way in the Conference Room located just across the hall from the Clinic at the Washington County Health Department. If you are in need of a basket please contact the clinic for eligibility.
If you would like to volunteer to work for this special cause, please call Michael at 479-466-6453. Lunch and drinks will be provided to all who volunteer to work the Food Drive Gove-a-Way day. Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 12 noon preparing all the baskets.
HIV Arkansas is pleased to announce the success of our 2nd Annual HIV Awareness Walk that took place Saturday, September 8th at the Jones Center for families in Springdale. The event was well attended with more than 45 people walking. Individuals were in competition with each other to win prizes for the most money raised and the winners were given gift certificates to local restaurants for a job well done. Our grand total for the day was $3,105.
Proceeds were split 50/50 between HIV Arkansas and the NWA Regional HIV Clinic.
Pictured below are members of the HIV Arkansas board presenting the $1600 check to Dr. Linds McGhee
(From Left to right)
Heath Lance, Secretary, Michael Burks, President, Dr. Lind McGhee, Dietrich Bengs, Treasurer and Kyle Johnson, Vice President
Members and attendees of our HIV Arkansas POZ Only Meetings have expressed concern of using the name HIV Arkansas on marquees or door entrances for meetings. Many feel the name is too strong and compromises one’s confidentiality. The board of directors has taken this under advisement and have determined the best solution to address the concern was to develop a new name for our POZ Only Support meetings.
For years now we have focused our efforts on encouraging people to make positive choices for their lives and this is where the idea for the new name actually came from. That being said, we have renamed the POZ Only meetings to Positive Living Support Group Meetings. We have even adopted an additional slogan for these groups, “Real People…Living on the Positive Side”! So far the response has been great. People really like the new name, it’s vague enough that no one will ever know it is related to HIV and yet encourages folks to live positively.
The new logo (shown right) for the Positive Living Meetings was designed by Dana Luker and has captured the art of living on the positive side. Simple, yet expressive and exciting. We are very proud to have Dana, a wonderful supporter and asset. Her talent is unparalleled.
Positive Living meetings are held each month at the Rogers Public Library in the Gloztbecker Conference Room.
f you would like more information on these meetings please call 1-888-802-3332.
The idea of developing a food drive for the holidays came to me during the fall of 2010 and when I shared the idea of hosting a food drive the board of directors agreed that we could pull it off! Needless to say we have just completed our 2nd year of this outreach and it’s just amazing what we have been able to accomplish.
In my own personal life I never cease to offer thanks for the many blessings I have known. I truly know how fortunate my family and I are. We always have enough food, and most of the time too much, our waist lines are proof of this fact. Others on the other hand are not as fortunate and often find it difficult to make ends meet. Many people living with HIV have basic nutritional needs throughout the year and find it even more difficult to manage good nutrition much less a holiday meal during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. This time of year can become a depressing time for many and the lack of good food combined with decreased sunlight can create an unpleasant experience. Our goal in creating the outreach of the food drive was to eliminate this unnecessary burden. In 2010 we began what is now known as a signature event for HIV Arkansas, the Annual Food Basket Give-a-way. I must say though, this dream wouldn’t and couldn’t be a reality without the dedication and perseverance of Dietrich and Kristy Bengs who came on board with this organization in the fall of 2010. They have been instrumental in gathering food items, making contacts with sponsors, and have spent countless hours sending emails and making phone calls to secure donations. Most all collections have been made in person by the Bengs and delivered to a central location for where they are assembled, packaged, boxed, and labeled for distribution.
In 2010 we were able to give away 20 food baskets containing approximately $30 worth of food which was enough food to make a nice Holiday Feast with all the trimmings. This give-a-way was conducted for Thanksgiving and Christmas making the basket give-a-way grand total of 40! Recipients of the Thanksgiving baskets received a nice turkey breast inside and those receiving the Christmas baskets received a nice ham. Several people sent thank you notes and voice mails to HIV Arkansas for the food baskets. The baskets were delivered to the Northwest Arkansas Regional HIV Clinic for distribution.
In 2011 the challenge of supplying food baskets to the Ft. Smith area was added to our current basket need. Again our board of directors were supportive and we decided we would provide food baskets for the Ft. Smith area as well. I am pleased to report in 2011 HIV Arkansas provided a total of 50 food baskets, 40 went to the Fayetteville area and 10 went to the Ft. Smith area, all containing approximately $50 worth of food which was enough to make a nice Holiday Feast with all the trimmings, plus have several meals during the week. This give-a-way was again conducted for Thanksgiving and Christmas and recipients of the Thanksgiving baskets received a nice Turkey Breast and those who received the Christmas baskets a ham.
Our sincere thanks to the Dietrich and Kristy Bengs, Michael Burks, Heath Lance, Brian Crane, Gail Crane, Tommy Crane, Jerry Cook, Mark Pitts, Ross Pitts, and Kari Coffman for their help in assembling/delivering the baskets of food. Without your help this dream could not have become a reality. Also we want to thank the staff of the NWA Regional HIV Clinic and Dr. Linda McGhee for once again partnering with us to provide this service to needy clients again this year.
Thursday, December 1st, following the World AIDS Day Ceremony, Alaya Bell with Community Clinic of Springdale presented a Certificate of Appreciation to HIV Arkansas. The award was in recognition of all the work HIV Arkansas does in HIV Education and outreach.
HIV Arkansas and its board of directors are very grateful to Alaya Bell and the staff of the Community Clinic and for the relationship we have developed with them over the past few years. Their encouragements and support have been wonderful.
Thanks for the award, we will display it proudly on our office.
HIV Arkansas is conducting its second annual food drive for those in the HIV community that are in need. Last year we had great success and provided 40 food baskets, this year we have increased our goal is 50 baskets. Each basket contains the makings of a holiday meal plus basic staples. The baskets will be distributed during the holidays in November and December through the NWA Regional HIV Clinic and ARCare in Ft.Smith. If you would like to help to make someone’s holiday brighter please donate today.
The overwhelming support of our community during our 1ST Annual HIV Awareness Walk, allowed us to present a check of $1,250 to the Northwest Arkansas Regional HIV Clinic. Pictured above from left to right is Dietrich Bengs, Michael Burls, Kristine Bengs, Kyle Johnson, Shermane Sturchio, Dr. Linda McGhee, and Rick Johnson.
On Tuesday, December 21st volunteers from Positive Links delivered 20 baskets of non-perishable food items to the Washington County HIV Clinic. These volunteers went far and beyond the call of duty in gathering food items, shopping, assembling and delivering. Special thanks to Kristy Bengs, the Food Drive Project Coordinator, for her tireless effort in making this food drive a success. Also thanks to Michael Burks, Health Lance, Steve May, Myke Anderson, and Dietrich Bengs.
We want to thank our financial supporters! Our hearts are truly blessed to have been given such wonderful supporters who have sent money for the 1st Annual Food Drive. Please know your donations have been used for their intended purpose and many lives have been touched this holiday season by your generosity. Throughout the month of November and through December 19th donations have come from all over the nation for this specific cause. It is refreshing to know that people really do care for the less fortunate. We also want to thank the people who brought food to the NWA Center for Equality. Your contributions were greatly appreciated.
For the two holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas we were able to distribute a total of 40 food baskets. The Thanksgiving baskets were filled with enough food for a nice traditional turkey dinner complete with a Butterball Turkey Breast. The Christmas baskets were filled with a enough food for a traditional Christmas dinner complete with a nice ham and all the trimmings.
Many of the baskets were hand delivered to residents in Northwest Arkansans with transportation issues.
Our thanks also to Dr. Linda McGhee and the wonderful staff of the Washington County HIV Clinic for their assistance in allowing us to use their facility for people to pick up their baskets.