In keeping with its annual tradition of donating a portion of its sales to HIV/AIDS service organizations, Philly AIDS Thrift (PAT) and Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room announced that its latest round of grants will award over $372,000 to 33 Delaware Valley organizations. This year brings PAT’s total donations to $4 million since the grant program’s inception. PAT staff and board members presented this year’s checks to recipients in a celebratory event at William Way LGBT Community Center on February 22.
“This is, by far, my favorite moment of the year,” Philly AIDS Thrift Board President Michael Byrne said in a press release. “It is truly humbling to be able to have an impact on programs that are doing incredible work on behalf of individuals and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS across the Delaware Valley.”
“[I am] so honored to be receiving the Philly AIDS Thrift grant this year,” Prevention Meets Fashion (PMF) Executive Director and Founder Nhakia Outland said in an email. Focusing on people of color and LGBTQ identities, PMF offers a variety of programs and resources geared toward fashion, sex education, advocacy and community.
Outland and the PMF team will use the grant to perpetuate their work around sex education and youth in Philadelphia, specifically in support of the Youth Gender-Based Violence Prevention Project (GBV). The GBV Project is part of the organization’s initiatives to expand sexual health knowledge, prevention and care in BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. PMF social work intern Amonna Pinkney is one of the sex ed instructors on the GBV Prevention Project.
“The GBV Prevention Project is an important tool in reducing and understanding violence and the transmission of HIV and other STIs in youth,” Outland added. “We hope to create safer spaces to uplift youth voices and for them to learn. We will also partner with several community-based and youth serving organizations to broaden our reach.”
Tatyana Woodard and Bishop Romaine Gibbs co-founded Ark of Safety LGBTQ+ Safe Haven, a relatively new, faith-based housing resource for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness, with a special focus on trans women of color. Ark of Safety offers overnight stays, emergency housing and rapid rehousing.
“It feels good for Ark of Safety’s work to be recognized and valued enough to be funded by such a great organization,” Woodard said.
Woodard and the team will allocate their grant money toward the newly-launched community resource hub, which offers health education, HIV prevention and harm reduction to those in need.
“We know that with HIV prevention we do have to tackle some of those social determinants of health before we can even have the conversation on HIV prevention,” Woodard said. As such, Ark of Safety provides bimonthly hot meals, hygiene kits, safer drug use kits and COVID-19 testing.
“We are always grateful for the support we receive from Philly AIDS Thrift,” Sebrina Tate, executive director of Bebashi, said in an email. With a focus on physical and mental health for Black and Brown people, Bebashi offers a variety of healthcare and educational resources, including medical case management, HIV and other STI screenings, support groups, prevention education and more.
“This year we pivoted our ask to support the clinical aspect of our organization in an effort to provide sound and culturally competent health care to our city’s most underserved populations,” Tate said. “We are thrilled that Philly AIDS Thrift has supported our efforts to narrow the gap in health disparities impacting our consumers.”
Tyrell Brown, interim executive director at galaei, which serves QTBIPOC communities, said the org hopes to use the PAT grant to support a full service housing initiative that will be combined with its existing programs. Some of galaei’s current resources include HIV education, coaching and youth drop-in support, comprehensive sex ed workshops, linkage to culturally competent healthcare, and meeting groups for trans and nonbinary youth.
“We are pleased and so grateful to be an awardee of the Philly AIDS Thrift grant,” Brown said in an email. “Philly AIDS Thrift, very much like galaei, has been a pillar of strength and resource for the LGBTQ and PLHIV community for decades.
“We know that LGBTQ folks are particularly more vulnerable to housing insecurity and homelessness. Studies show that 20% of all youth in the juvenile justice system identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and/or gender nonconforming. We also know that homelessness is the greatest predictor of involvement with the juvenile justice system, with 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ.”
With the knowledge that some of the keys to reducing HIV infections lie in providing housing and working to dismantle systemic racism, Black and Latinx Community Control of Health (BLCC) will use the funding to support “community people living with HIV doing community HIV organizing,” BLCC cofounder José de Marco said in an email. BLCC is made up of Black and Brown people living with HIV who are working to regain control of healthcare in their own communities.
“PAT realizes that the Black and Latinx Community are the experts of their lives by our lived experience and are best suited to address disparities in HIV infections,” de Marco said. “PAT recognizes in 2023 HIV prevention is housing, addressing systemic racism, social and economic injustices.”
This year’s grantees are Action Wellness, African Family Health Organization (AFAHO), AIDS Delaware, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Angels In Motion, Ark of Safety, Bebashi – Transition to Hope, Black and Latinx Community Control of Health, Camp Dreamcatcher, Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA), Drexel’s Dorothy Mann Center, Drexel University, Family Service of Chester County, Family Services of Montgomery County, galaei, Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), Neighborhood United Against Drugs, One Day At A Time, Philadelphia Black Pride, Pink and Blues, Planned Parenthood Keystone, Prevention Meets Fashion, Prevention Point Philadelphia, Morris Home, Safehouse, Serenity House, Siloam Wellness, SOL Collective, The Attic Youth Center, The COLOURS Organization, UNAIDS at Penn and William Way LGBT Community Center.
To honor the $4 million total donation mark, Philly AIDS Thrift invites the public to a two-day celebration on Feb. 24 and 25, where customers can avail themselves of discounts, refreshments and “joyful madness” at both PAT locations.