In commemoration of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the South Side Help Center ( SSHC ) presented its inaugural Men of 20/20 Vision Awards, a salute to 20 gay and same-gender-loving men who lead HIV/AIDS advocacy in the African-American community. The event took place Sept. 27 at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave.
SSHC, which was founded in 1987, originally set a goal of educating the African-American religious community so it could be sensitive to the needs of people dealing with AIDS. The Center has evolved beyond that goal and HIV prevention to include direct-care services and a range of youth and capacity-building programs for minorities at risk. Currently, the SSHC connects HIV+ clients to free medical services through its recent affiliation with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and is expanding to offer additional services.
SSHC Executive Director Vanessa Smith and SSHC MSM Project Director Charles E. Nelson II presided over the award presentation. The recipients of this year's awards were John Fleming ( for his advocacy through his Mad Man Productions ), David Ernesto Munar ( for his stewardship of the AIDS Foundation and currently as chief executive officer of Howard Brown Health Center ), Erik Glenn ( executive director of The Black Gay Men's Caucus ), Father Mario Balenciago ( for his advocacy and outreach work ), Shaune Freeman ( for his work as clinical coordinator with the CBA ), Anthony Galloway ( for his work with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago ), Art "Chat Daddy" Sims ( for his advocacy and work for the community as a radio personality ) and Daniel David Mendez ( for his work at the CORE Center and as CDPH Project Coordinator at The Center On Halsted ).
Also receiving awards were Keith Green ( in the areas of community advocacy, education and the spoken-word art form ), Arick Buckles ( of the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS policy ), Sherman Bryant ( co-chair of Chicago Black Treatment Advocate Network ), John Sykes ( MSW, LCSWW, psychotherapist ), Ben Montgomery ( retired congressional admininstrator ), Bruce C. Edwards ( Chicago Department of Health and Human Services ), Daniel Parker ( for his community advocacy ), Saul Avina ( for his community outreach ), Sanford E. Gaylord ( U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ), Serette B. King ( project manager at Howard Brown Health Center ), Nelson ( of SSHC ) and Louis O. Spraggins ( communicable disease control investigator, Thresholds ).
Award recipients David Ernesto Munar, John Fleming and Art "Chat Daddy" Sims were not in attendance.
For further information regarding services offered by the SSHC, visit SouthSideHelpCenter.org .