In October 1982, the fears about Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease (GRID) were so rampant, the four founders of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) decided to set up a hotline to answer questions about the disease. The hotline was housed in a small closet in a community center, where volunteers answered a single telephone and shared what little information was available about GRID, one of the early names for AIDS.
Realizing that funds were needed to educate the community and prevent the spread of the disease, the founders held a benefit that raised more than $7,000, which became the seed money for a new organization.
Recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay disease, the founders named the organization AIDS Project Los Angeles.
2. What are some of the needs of AIDS Project Los Angeles’ clients and how does the organization meet these needs?
APLA’s bilingual programs and services enhance both the health and the quality of life of our clients. With nine out of ten clients living on less than $20,000 a year, many depend on these programs for survival. In 2011, APLA’s Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries distributed more than 150,000 bags of free groceries and personal hygiene products to clients living with HIV/AIDS.
People living with HIV/AIDS are more susceptible to dangerous oral infections, so APLA Dental Services offers a full range of dental care in two state-of-the-art clinics and through a mobile dental van that provides care throughout underserved regions of LA County.
APLA also assists people living with AIDS find and maintain safe, stable, affordable and permanent housing through Housing Case Management and the Housing Information Services Clearinghouse (HISC). The Housing Case Management Program addresses the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS who face homelessness, the threat of homelessness, poorly coordinated care for their disease and/or related conditions. Services include formulating housing plans, assisting clients in applying for housing assistance and moving into housing, educating clients about tenant rights and responsibilities, and acting as an ongoing liaison between clients, property owners and case managers.
In addition, APLA offers counseling services, treatment education, and more to help clients remain as healthy and productive as possible.
3. AIDS Project Los Angeles is known for its special events, what are some upcoming ways that people can get involved to support your work?
The biggest event that benefits APLA is AIDS Walk Los Angeles, which will be taking place on Sunday, October 14, 2012. AIDS Walk Los Angeles is a great way to get the whole family involved in doing something to support APLA and the 11,000 clients it serves
There are a number of ways to give in addition to special events. We encourage supporters to volunteer their time at one of our food pantries, become a member of our Leadership Circle, or make a tax-deductible, monthly donation to support APLA’s direct care and prevention services.
4. If your organization had a mascot, what animal would it be and why?
If APLA had a mascot, it would be a turtle. Turtles represent longevity, resilience, and perseverance, which are all defining characteristics of the organization. We have been around for nearly 30 years, we have grown and evolved in response to changes in the epidemic, and we’ll continue to fight until the epidemic is over!
For more information about AIDS Project Los Angeles visit www.apla.org