Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Lending Hands for Life: Help in Humboldt Park
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 3473 times since Sat Oct 1, 2005
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

For decades, Erie Family Health Center has provided help in a variety of medical, social, and cultural areas for Chicago's citizens. There are branches of the center in different neighborhoods, including a teen-centered facility at 1523 W. Chicago. However, the facility in Humboldt Park is distinct in that it houses The Lending Hands for Life program.

Lending Hands for Life is Erie's bilingual HIV awareness, prevention, treatment and care services program. Among the services it provides are case management, behavioral health screening, substance abuse treatment and nutritional screening.

If people have not heard of the 15-year-old program, that is not surprising to some. Jarret Thompson, Lending Hands's director, said that it has only had the name for a couple of months. Before the facility's consumer advisory council changed the title, it was simply known as the HIV Program, a nondescript ( and decidedly non-confidential ) moniker. 'I was very concerned with making sure our clientele had its confidentiality kept intact,' Thompson said. 'Also, a lot of clients didn't want 'HIV, HIV, HIV' thrown in their faces every day.'

Thompson describes the program's mission as 'providing high-quality care to the Humboldt Park and West Town communities.' However, something that sets Lending Hands ( and Erie ) apart from many other agencies and centers is that people can receive the proper care regardless of their ability to pay. 'We work with our patients to make sure that we investigate every possible venue for them to secure either insurance or [ some other form of ] assistance,' Thompson stated.

About 150 clients ( a number that has increased in the past few months ) seek services through three case managers, Thompson added. Two of the managers are Ryan White case managers while the other is with the Department of Rehab Services. When asked if the increased case load is good or bad news, Thompson sees the glass as half-full and half-empty: 'It's good news to Erie and the community that we're able to meet the needs of the community. It's bad in the sense that HIV rates continue to climb in the West Town and Humboldt Park neighborhoods.'

The director does not view complacency as a local problem so much as a national one: 'I'm not sure I see complacency within the Latino community or with our clientele. As a nation, we've slipped into 'Even if I do become HIV-positive, I can just take a pill and be OK.' We're seeing a new generation of folks becoming infected because they didn't see the devastating effects on our communities back in the early '80s.'

For Pamela McGee, working at Lending Hands is 'a human-rights issue.' She added that 'when you look at the numbers and see this invisible population, [ I ] realize that we have not made enough noise that there is help available. People are concerned about terrorism, but look how many lives are affected here. We must fight the good fight—and Erie has been on the battlefield. We've also created a barrier-friendly environment for the patient; this is a one-stop service so all of [ a client's ] needs can be met.'

The diversity of the staff's positions reflect McGee's 'one-stop service' theory, with everyone from drug counselors to nutritionists on board. Margarita Nagy, a dietician, said: 'Some symptoms can be improved by learning how to eat or by taking vitamin supplements. I work with each patient to adjust the diet; usually, the change is gradual.'

The Lending Hands staff contends that the compassion for the clientele and their passion for helping combine to create an environment with comfort that is palpable. For instance, Thompson loves assisting the clients. 'One of the biggest benefits to working here is being able to help people get better and to get them to understand that health is not just the absence of disease but the promotion of wellness,' he said.

Lending Hands for Life is located at 2750 W. North; the number is ( 312 ) 432-7352.

This article shared 3473 times since Sat Oct 1, 2005
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.