Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

Vida/SIDA May Close
by Roberto Sanabria
2004-06-01

This article shared 4761 times since Tue Jun 1, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The only AIDS education and outreach program based in Chicago's Puerto Rican community is slated to close its doors in a few weeks. Due to funding cuts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Vida/SIDA, absent a miracle, will distribute its last condoms, lay off its staff, unplug its computers, and turn off the lights. [And Greater Chicago Committee, serving African-Americans, may also close due to funding cuts.]

To be sure, Vida/SIDA is not the only AIDS program to suffer the fiscal pinch. The federal government's reprioritization, however, is disconcerting in that proven and effective grassroots responses to the AIDS pandemic are fast becoming extinct.

'The AIDS crisis is not going away in this community,' said Johnny Colon, Program Director of Vida/SIDA. 'In fact, among Latinos in Chicago, Puerto Ricans are the hardest hit. The CDC couldn't have picked a worse time or a worse target!' Colon added that he was scrambling to secure a skeleton staff for the months ahead. 'A few said they'd stay on as volunteers ... at least until they find other jobs. In the meantime, I'll be shaking every tree ... seeing if I can shake loose some untapped funding.'

Vida/SIDA was born in 1987, when Puerto Rican community activists cobbled together a few resources and opened a storefront on West Division St. This first stage in the program's evolution was a free, alternative health clinic run entirely by volunteer staff. In those years, it served hundreds of HIV+ residents of West Town / Humboldt Park and of other communities. The clinic provided services as varied as nutritional counseling, acupuncture, chiropractic care and tai chi.

In subsequent years, Vida/SIDA grew and adapted its mission to embrace education and prevention strategies among the fastest growing HIV+ populations—Latina women and sexually active young people. Moreover, it broadened its scope and provided education and services with respect to other sexually transmitted diseases.

Throughout most of the first decade of the AIDS crisis, prevention strategies fell short in communities of color. While impressive organization and action politics took place in Boy's Town, other areas of the city lagged far behind. Although exported to several communities, intervention models based on gay-Anglo sensibilities were meaningless in places such as West Town. Vida/SIDA was one of the first community-based expressions of 'one size does not fit all' problem solving. The strategies were designed by Latinos and nuanced for a Latino community.

That idea continues. 'The approach and the language you use for a middle class, gay White man is not the same approach you would use with a 17-year-old Puerto Rican gang member. That has nothing to do with a difference in intelligence; it has everything to do with culture, identity, and comfort.' said Colon. 'If you don't establish a connection ... some empathy, you're not going far.'

Leonilda Calderon, a teenager when she began working as a peer educator with Vida/SIDA, illustrates the point with an anecdote. 'I've been working here for about 10 years, now. I can't tell you how many homes I've been in talking about HIV. Last week, I was in Humboldt Park passing out information, some condoms, and dental dams. I saw these two white guys ... I think they were Mormons—they had on ties and were riding bikes. They stopped and talked to these two Puerto Rican women—in their 30s maybe their 40s. The ladies smiled, but you could just tell they weren't having it. After a while, we went up to them and started talking in Spanish. I swear, before you know it, we're in one of their livingrooms, drinking coffee, looking at family photos, and having great conversations about their daughters' risks, their own sex lives, and all the community resources around here that they don't know about. You know, it's not just because we spoke Spanish we got in their door; it's that we have the same realities—the same culture. We understand a lot of things the same way. You know?'

Following up on his earlier metaphor, Colon added, 'The tree I'm shaking now is the Ballets de San Juan—That's the official Ballet Company of Puerto Rico. They're being brought to New York for a special performance in honor of their 50th anniversary. They performed here before and loved it, but out of nowhere they called us and said they'd be willing to come back after New York and perform for free!—if we paid the airfare. We've already got the whole thing set up at Clemente's H.S. auditorium. If we could sell out both performances, we just might be able to keep this work going until the next round of major grant disbursements. I'm telling you, if we can pull this off, the community will have dodged a bullet, it'll be something.'

The Ballets de San Juan will perform on June 18, at Clemente H.S. Auditorium located at 1147 N. Western Ave. Congressman Luís Gutiérrez will host the reception. Call (773) 278-6737.

Ornelas-Quintero to Leave LLEG"

Martín Ornelas-Quintero, LLEG"—the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization—executive director since 1996, has announced his resignation effective July 31, when his contract expires this year. LLEG"'s board of directors has begun a national search for his replacement.


This article shared 4761 times since Tue Jun 1, 2004
facebook twitter pin it 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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

World AIDS Day marked on Paseo Boricua 2016-12-07
- The Puerto Rican Cultural Center's (PRCC) Vida/SIDA held its 28th annual World AIDS Day event. The event started with a candlelight vigil and offerings to an altar at La Casita de Don Pedro, a tribute replica ...


Gay News

Orlando victims honored at Puerto Rican People's Parade 2016-06-18
- Puerto Rican Cultural Center-Vida/SIDA (PRCC-Vida/SIDA) honored the victims of the massacre at the LGBTQ Pulse Orlando Night Club & Ultra Lounge at the Puerto Rican People's Parade, June 18 in Humboldt Park. Vida/SIDA marched behind a ...


Gay News

WORLD AIDS DAY Vida/SIDA event celebrates, remembers and challenges 2015-12-07
- "The time to act is now." It is the prevailing theme of the 2015 World AIDS Day—one which reverberated throughout Vida/SIDA event held at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) Dec. 1. The standing-room-only audience packed ...


Gay News

Youth homelessness behind teaming of AFC, Vida/SIDA 2015-02-25
- The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and Vida/SIDA—a project of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC)—are teaming on a new initiative, El Rescate 2.0, to help HIV positive homeless youth get a new lease on life. ...


Gay News

Vida/SIDA marks World AIDS Day with vigil, dinner 2014-12-04
- HIV survivors Jerry Rivera, Jose Ramos and Manny Ahorrio received Vida/SIDA's (Life/AIDS) first annual resilience award at the Vida/SIDA World AIDS Day commemoration in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood Dec. 1. ...


Gay News

Vida/SIDA celebrates 25 years with gala on World AIDS Day 2013-12-03
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times - About 75 people attended Vida/SIDA's 25th anniversary gala event, "Celebrating 25 Milestones in 25 Years of Community Building," at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture Dec. 1. Ahead of the gala celebration a vigil, ...


Gay News

Vida/SIDA observes World AIDS Day 2013-12-02
- In the afternoon leading up to its gala marking both World AIDS Day and its 25th anniversary, Vida/SIDA hosted a vigil and tour of its facilities throughout Humboldt Park. The remembrance at Casita de Don Pedro, ...


Gay News

Vida/SIDA marks World AIDS Day 2012-12-05
- More than 100 people attended Vida/SIDA's (Life/AIDS) candlelight vigil and parranda—a traditional Puerto Rican holiday caroling and musical procession—to commemorate World AIDS Day in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago ...


Gay News

Puerto Rican Pride at Circuit 2012-06-20
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times - Puerto Rican Pride weekend kicked off at Circuit Night Club with the coronation of Jessica Wild from RuPaul's Drag Race June 15. The Paseo Boricua Pageant—which Vida/SIDA sponsored and Paul ...


Gay News

ALMA, Vida/SIDA hosts night of pride, culture 2012-03-06
- The Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA) and Vida/SIDA held a night of pride and culture ("una noche de orgullo y cultura") at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture March 3. The event ...


Gay News

Vida/SIDA opens LGBT homeless shelter 2012-03-03
- It took years of revised plans and fundraising, but on March 3 Vida/SIDA cut the ribbon on its much-anticipated LGBT homeless youth shelter, the first of its kind in Chicago. More than 75 people packed into ...


Gay News

Gay Latino authors featured at March 2 event 2012-02-29
- The Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA) and the HIV/AIDS agency Vida/SIDA are co-hosting "Una Noche de Orgullo y Cultura" ("A Night of Pride and Culture") Friday, March 2, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the Institute of ...


Gay News

ALMA, VIDA/SIDA to host Night of Pride and Culture 2012-02-27
From a news release - ALMA, in conjunction with VIDA/SIDA and IPRAC, is honored and excited to bring together three renowned gay Latino authors for a book reading and panel discussion on their respective works. Charles Rice-Gonzalez is a long-time activist ...


Gay News

Vida/SIDA to open youth shelter in March 2012-01-18
Posted Jan. 13, 2012 - Humboldt Park-based LGBT and AIDS service organization Vida/SIDA has finalized plans to open its much-anticipated LGBTQ homeless youth shelter, El Rescate. The shelter will become the Midwest's first LGBTQ youth ...


Gay News

AIDS: Vida/SIDA holds World AIDS Day vigil 2011-12-07
- Vida/SIDA held an Altars and Candlelight Vigil in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago the evening of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. The gathering at La Casita de Don Pedro was attended by about 100 people ...


 



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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


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.