Alliance for Positive Health adds to its positive mission

Launched in the 1980s as the AIDS epidemic swept the country, the Alliance for Positive Health has broadened its mission in recent years. Stretching from the Hudson Valley to the Capital Region and north to the Canadian border, the not-for-profit social service organization tackles a wide range of chronic diseases and a range related issues in the lives of clients that contribute to their overall well-being.

Much of the alliance’s mission remains the prevention and treatment of HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections, including providing testing and education to those most at risk. But as the prevention and treatment of AIDS has improved dramatically, the alliance since 2015 has supported clients with other types of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental health issues. severe asthma and drug addiction.

“There was a lack of support services for people, and at the time most of them were dying,” said Donna Vancavage, alliance marketing director, of the organization’s work. in the 1980s. “HIV and AIDS are no longer a death sentence. And we have evolved.

Clients are often low-income, live in areas without services, and suffer from concurrent illnesses or disorders. The alliance’s approach is to deal with these issues holistically, helping clients with everything from signing up for health insurance coverage, to providing transportation to see doctors or trips to groups. support, and the purchase of refrigerators so that medicines can be stored appropriately.

“We are trying to remove all the barriers that prevent access to health care and a healthier life,” said Vancavage.

The association’s offer is varied. Customers, who receive free support services, can also get help with rent, utility bills, basic household items such as cleaning supplies or towels, beds or school backpacks for children. There are support groups and a nutrition education program. The organization manages a food panty. There is a program to help people who are HIV-negative significantly reduce the risk of infection by taking antiretroviral drugs on a daily basis.

The alliance was founded in 1984 as the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. It began doing business as Alliance for Positive Health in 2015, with the shift to a larger mission made possible by private funding in addition to its pre-existing government funding. The nonprofit is headquartered in Albany, but has four regional offices – in Schenectady, Glens Falls, Hudson and Plattsburgh – and serves a large part of Northeast New York. Its coverage area is 17 counties, from Columbia and Greene to Clinton and Essex. It employs a diverse group of approximately 100 employees.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on the organization and its customers. The association raised funds to purchase laptops or iPads so that customers could communicate with staff remotely. Nutritional and financial assistance to clients has increased considerably. Staff have started delivering meals instead of customers coming to group headquarters. And many clients have lost their jobs.

“We still have a request for financial assistance for clients, for rent arrears and utilities,” Vancavage said. “It exploded and we had to do more and more fundraisers. “

While staff had to work remotely during the worst of the pandemic, some in-person services have now resumed.

The organization embraced the Black Lives Matter movement by creating a Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The organization strives to ensure staff are representative of the population it serves, Vancavage said, including people of color and the LGBTQ + community. The organization’s mantra is to be “safe, supportive and determined to foster a collaborative working atmosphere and to offer recognition and gratitude to our diverse workforce”. The alliance also provides resources and services to people incarcerated in designated New York City correctional facilities, with the goal of preventing new HIV and hepatitis C infections.

The organization normally hosts a big Halloween-themed fundraiser called BOO-jolais Ball, but it was canceled again this year due to the pandemic. Instead of the silent auction held at the gala, the nonprofit is hosting an online fundraising auction, where the items will be available for auction between November 26 and December 20.

During the week of December 13, the organization will also provide holiday gift wrap at Crossgates Mall and collect donations that will help meet customers’ basic household needs.

In addition, the organization operates an online program, where members of the public can purchase a registry and purchase essentials for the needy. These include everything from toiletries to basic household items, from bedding to pots and pans to brooms.

Alliance for Positive Health

927 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207


[email protected]

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