Benefit for homeless youth with HIV

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    Pathways to Community Services, Inc., a newly established nonprofit organization, is in the process of buying a facility on the east side with space to house 85 to 100 youth between 16 and 26 who have HIV.

    To help raise money to purchase the building, Pathways will hold its first annual fundraiser, called “Sleepout 2009,” at Historic Fort Wayne on Sept. 18.

    Anthony Douglas, Pathways president, said the sleepout will take place from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. A lot of live entertainment has been scheduled, and various restaurants have donated food for the food court.

    He also said there will be great outdoor movies shown on a donated 26 ft. inflatable screen and audio equipment, and that members of the City Council have been invited as has the mayor.

    There will also be free blood pressure and blood sugar checks.

    The building, which had served as a residential facility in the past and has been vacant less than a year, will be called the Mendota Transitional Home.

    Residents would stay in the Mendota Transitional Home for two years. During that time they will have gone through a series of courses to help them prepare to live independently, while still obtaining all the required medications and treatments necessary to live a productive life.

    While this facility will be for men, a similar facility for women will come later.

    Those who enroll in the program are expected to conduct themselves professionally at all times. No sexual behavior among residents is permitted on the premises.

    In addition, those who haven’t finished high school will be expected to do so, or at least earn a GED. After that, residents will be encouraged to go on to higher levels of education. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-fledged university. It can be some type of vocational training. The program will also have a vocational component that will let participants learn a skilled trade.

    For those older participants who’ve already finished school, the program will have an employment component.

    In addition to the transitional housing facility, Pathways will also have a drop-in center, for those homeless individuals who are not registered residents of the program. They will have access to showers, washers and dryers, and a hot meal.

    The building used for the transitional housing will not have a sign outside identifying it as facility for young men with HIV, Douglas noted, and other programs will also be taking place in the facility.

    “We’ve spoken with other agencies and they’re going to do some collaborations with us,” Douglas said. “So there’ll be plenty of other programs that are run out of that building. So I don’t think it will put a significant spotlight on one population.”

    The program is written and designed to offer therapeutic services, educational services, vocational services and medical care and treatment.

    “During the time that you’re actually in the program, we’re steadily building confidence in you, letting you know that just because you’ve been diagnosed that is not a death sentence now,” he said. “You still can live a full and productive life. You deserve that right, just as any other citizen.”

    Because the program’s clients are homeless, Douglas said they don’t have the means to obtain the often costly medication they need to survive. They also may not have the know-how or the necessary information on how to obtain such services.

    “Once you come to us, there’s a full complete physical, mental, dental, all that screening,” he said. “You get the case management; there’s case managers that follow you from beginning to end. You get all the medical care, treatment, medication, all that.”

    Douglas, who has worked in the health and human service industry since 1991, said he’d always had a soft heart for those who were less fortunate and homeless. He would constantly see youth wandering aimlessly up and down Woodward Avenue and thought they need to be doing something.

    He reiterated that having HIV is no longer a death sentence.

    He didn’t set a goal of how much he wants to raise at Sleepout 2009, but said he’d be “absolutely astounded” if he could raise $100,000.

    For ticket prices to Sleepout 2009 and for more information about Pathways to Community Services, Inc., call Anthony Douglas at (313) 685-3929.

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