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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Blog: Join 4/30 AIDS Walk to Support Food Bank, AIDS Projects

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This is a guest blog by Marshall Martinez of Albuquerque, NM. He has been an activist in community organizing around many topics for over fifteen years, beginning with HIV/AIDS Prevention work.

I recently wrote a guest blog for Democracy for New Mexico highlighting an often overlooked or under-discussed issue in New Mexico: the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the lack of serious prevention measures/programs in our area. It was well received, it seems, and hopefully began a discussion about the issue in homes and offices where it hadn’t been previously brought up.  

The biggest response I got to the essay was, “What can we do to help?” And I am writing now, to answer that question!

The Albuquerque Pride Joe and Jean Travis HIV/AIDS Food Bank was recently opened in Albuquerque. It is privately funded and run by local activists rather than the nonprofit, state-funded organization that used to house it. This opening is the first step to filling the void left behind by the huge programmatic cuts made by New Mexico AIDS Services. The struggle, however, is only beginning in this economy for this small, private non-profit with big hopes for our community.

So to help fund this project and the prevention and care projects coming in the future, Albuquerque will have its first AIDS Walk in years. On Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 11:00 AM, hundreds, if not thousands, of caring activists, families and friends will come together to celebrate life, raise awareness and, most of all, create a funding source for this Food Bank. The Food Bank will eventually be an entire resource center for HIV/AIDS issues in Albuquerque. All we are missing is your team!

Joining us for the AIDS Walk is easy and will be fun! Just check out the Albuquerque Pride webpage to download the registration forms. Recruit your team, and start raising money! Remember, any contribution you can raise or make yourself will help! If there are 600 people in Albuquerque who can bring $50 to the event, we will have $30,000 in the bank by May 1st -- enough funding for an entire year's worth of programs planned for the Food Bank!

As a 27-year-old gay man, few issues have affected my life as much as HIV/AIDS. I began working in the prevention field when I was 14 years old, and in the time since I have been affected deeply by the issue and the people facing it.

From meeting men and women who were among the first generation of HIV-positive people and watching them battle the disease over a decade later, to meeting young men my age and younger, who were failed by our lack of prevention programs and are facing the beginning of a lifelong battle with HIV, I have seen the face of HIV/AIDS too many times. I have heard even more stories of the struggles of my community to afford healthy foods, or simple pleasures like desserts and sodas. The quality of life, obviously the most important thing for these, our Sisters and Brothers, is often a stretch too far for their means.   

Please Help
Please consider putting together a team, raising money or simply donating to the teams already in formation. Remember, these are our Brothers and Sisters suffering, and they deserve compassion. 

You can follow Albuquerque Pride events and activities on Facebook.

This is a guest blog by Marshall Martinez. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

April 13, 2011 at 12:58 PM in Events, Food and Drink, GLBT Rights, Guest Blogger, Healthcare | Permalink


Thank you so much for allowing me to provide this information to your readers. If anyone has questions they cannot find the answers to on the website provided, they may feel free to reach me at any time. AzulYMarron@Gmail.com

Posted by: Marshall | Apr 13, 2011 2:43:21 PM

It is amazing what a small group of people in the community who really care about HIV/AIDS can accomplish. The Albuquerque AIDS walk has been missing for several years now and many of us are happy to see its return. I think this is especially important at this time when our nation is in a recession and there is money being cut from HIV Prevention programs everywhere. It also goes to show that when people really care about those affected by HIV/AIDS, an AIDS Walk can be started with little or no money. For the last several years now New Mexico AIDS Services has cancelled AIDS Walk citing that money was the issue. I find that ironic for a state funded non-profit that claims the following:
“New Mexico AIDS Services (NMAS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit community based organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for people and communities affected by HIV/AIDS through innovative and comprehensive services, support and prevention education.” would ever consider cancelling their AIDS Walk that is designed to bring communities together, spread awareness and offer support. AIDS walks are not supposed to be about glitz and glamour they are supposed to bring people together, build bridges and spread awareness. Yes they can cost money but as demonstrated by our current AIDS walk, they can be organized on a shoestring budget.

In my opinion it is a shame that a largely state funded organization with an Executive Director who makes upwards of $80,000 a year and houses herself in a million dollar facility that clients hardly access and whose board president is dating an employee of NMAS is even given money for HIV/AIDS education and client services. They are, in my opinion, obviously quite out of touch with the communities they are funded to serve and their own mission. And it is a shame that they have had 4 tenured/experienced prevention staff members including the prevention program manager of 10 ten years, the Women’s program coordinator of 6 years, the Health Education coordinator of 2 years and the Mpowerment program coordinator of 5 years all resign within a four month period during a recession where jobs are scarce. Not to mention they have closed the Joe and Gene Travis Food Bank, another community based program, and now simply hand out food cards. Additionally, several well known community members that served on the board have resigned.

In my opinion New Mexico AIDS Services is completely out of touch with the communities they are supposed to be serving. Thank God Albuquerque has people who care deeply about those affected by HIV/AIDS otherwise all of the awareness and prevention might be swept by the wayside. I think the community needs to stand up and speak out before this state funded Non-Profit Organization is completely run into the ground. The fact of the matter is that people are still contracting HIV and eliminating prevention programs/messages, canceling AIDS Walks, closing traditional food banks and losing passionate/experienced prevention staff only compounds the situation.

Thank God that Bunnie Fluffy Cruse, Aleah Rico, Albuquerque Pride, and many others have selflessly worked hard to put on:
That will benefit the newly opened Joe & Jean Travis Food Bank housed in Effex Night Club.
Now that is how communities work together!

Posted by: Albuquerque Citizen | Apr 29, 2011 12:29:19 PM