Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

AIDS: Chicago House helps clients with employment concerns
by Erica Demarest
2012-01-25

This article shared 5603 times since Wed Jan 25, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


During his first several years at Chicago House, CEO Stan Sloan noticed an alarming trend.

Every year, hundreds of clients would make their way to the HIV/AIDS nonprofit to take advantage of its housing and case management services. But only a small number made the leap out of subsidy-based programs and into more permanent employment situations.

"The HIV/AIDS population will not access mainstream employment programs because there's too many fears unique to them," Sloan said. "They're afraid of disclosure in the workplace. They're afraid of what it's going to do to their health. They're afraid of taking their medications and whether they're going to be able to do that. And mostly they're afraid of what happens if: 'OK, It took me years to get onto Social Security income. If I go off and get sick, how can I get back on?'"

Hoping to address the panoply of concerns, Sloan set to work meeting with lawyers, AIDS organizers and city officials. And in 2005, Chicago House launched the city's first citywide employment program for people with HIV/AIDS. [ Sloan asked that the program's name be kept private to protect its participants' safety and confidentiality. ]

"Housing's always going to be at our core," Sloan said, "but our most cutting edge, our most important program right now, is our employment program. Nobody else in the nation is focusing on it the way that we are, to the degree that we are, as successfully as we are."

After preliminary meetings with Mark Ishaug, former president/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Chris Brown, assistant city health commissioner, Sloan realized that to address the HIV population's unique concerns, Chicago House would need to create an entirely new breed of programming.

"We tried to find a program to model ours off of, and there wasn't one," Sloan said.

Chicago House's 4-week program offers a holistic approach to employment preparedness. Participants address basic career concerns through resume help, mock interviews and meetings with career counselors.

Those who have been living on the streets or have never held a 9-5 job benefit from sessions on professional etiquette and hygiene expectations. Yoga, spirituality and substance abuse therapy are also integrated into sessions, many of which are conducted by Inspiration Corporation, a local NGO that works to end homelessness.

"If something is left behind and isn't addressed, it'll pull the whole person back," Sloan said.

HIV-related concerns naturally take center stage. A representative from the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities talks to groups about managing paychecks, weaning off Social Security and how to get back on it, if necessary.

"You can cost yourself out of a public benefit very easily, and then you're not earning enough money to keep up with your life," said Lisa Razzano, a UIC professor who researches barriers to employment for those with HIV/AIDS. "The core of what [ Chicago House is ] trying to accomplish is that dependence on benefits. They're not saying: Get off your benefits; their bad. They're saying: Benefits change, and you can't rely only on that entitlement."

To date, more than 600 people have gone through Chicago House's employment program. The average placement rate sits at 40 percent, a high number for populations that are HIV/AIDS-affected or formerly homeless, Sloan said.

Though the program was doing exceptionally well and participants rated it highly, many found it difficult to obtain full-time positions.

"They never thought they would be productive again in their lives," Sloan said. "All of a sudden, they're so excited. They do stellar in the program. They're ready to move forward, and because of their histories, we couldn't get an employer to take a chance on them. So we thought, well, let's just start our own business where we can give them that chance."

Chicago House partnered with a class at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management to explore viable business models. After weeks of deliberation, they settled on a bakery, and Sweet Miss Giving's was born.

Launched in October 2008, Sweet Miss Giving's sells all-natural, preservative-free baked goods that are made from scratch on-site. Most bakers are interns working with Chicago House's employment program, and 100 percent of proceeds are funneled back into Chicago House services.

Participants start things off with a 4-week unpaid training session ( offered in rotating locations throughout the city ) where they learn food service basics such as baking, packaging, customer service and delivery.

"Even in a very bad economy, the food service continues to hire and need people," Sloan said. By learning a variety of skills, interns' job prospects increase considerably.

Next up is a 6-month paid internship that doubles as continued education and the first line on many people's resumes. Close to 100 percent of Sweet Miss Giving's graduates find full-time employment.

Sloan originally worried that transitioning from unemployment to full 40-hour workweeks might be detrimental to clients' health.

"What we have found is just the opposite," he said. "The more that people enter into normal life activities such as work, which is such a part of human dignity, the better their health perceptions are. They're no longer just sitting in their apartments thinking about being sick… As their health perceptions change and they start thinking more positively, their actual health follows."

Razzano and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted studies comparing the health of HIV-positive and HIV-negative people who work fulltime.

"It was not a physiological thing or a biological illness-related thing that put people in the workforce," Razzano said. "What we found in one of our studies… was all mental health stuff. Did people believe their health was stable? Did they have a more positive general outlook on their health?"

Worldwide, the No. 1 barrier to employment is depression, Razzano said. By boosting a client's mental health and feelings of self-worth, employment programs such as those at Chicago House can augment physical health.

Additionally, helping clients become self-sufficient reduces the strain on already underfunded NGO programming. With 50,000 new infections every year in the United States ( most of which come from poor communities ) , it is essential to make sure those who are newly diagnosed will have access to social services by alleviating overcrowding. And employment is one of the best ways to do that.

"Employment is the key for the future for HIV and AIDS services," Sloan said.

To learn more about the Chicago House or Sweet Miss Giving's, visit www.chicagohouse.org or www.sweetmissgiving.com .

This story is part of the Local Reporting Initiative, supported in part by The Chicago Community Trust.


This article shared 5603 times since Wed Jan 25, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

World AIDS Day: GLAAD releases 2022 State of HIV Stigma Study
2022-12-01
-- From a press release - (New York, NY - December 1, 2022) GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is releasing its third annual State of HIV Stigma ...


Gay News

GLAAD responds to renaming of Monkeypox
2022-11-30
-- From a press release - (New York, NY) - GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement recommending a new ...


Gay News

WHO renames monkeypox
2022-11-29
On Nov. 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that monkeypox has been renamed "mpox." According to a press release from the organization, "both names will be used simultaneously for one year while 'monkeypox' is phased out. " ...


Gay News

Peppermint barks while Broadway bangs, and all the other dish to start the week
2022-11-28
"I love Broadway. I love what they do—Broadway Cares, but I also want to say the show is extraordinary!" —Nicole Kidman's impromptu speech after bidding $100K to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for Hugh Jackman's hat after ...


Gay News

Chicago's COVID level returns to 'medium'; boosters/shots encouraged
2022-11-26
According to the latest information on the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) website, the city's COVID-19 risk level is now at medium level. In a news release, the Chicago Department of Public Health explained Cook ...


Gay News

Transgender Day of Resilience: Town Hall panelists tackle allyship, discrimination and immigration
2022-11-23
Brave Space Alliance (BSA), Life Is Work (LIW) and Chicago Therapy Collective (CTC) hosted three free events across the city that they named—TDOR Weekend: A New Era, Together— to celebrate ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Grammy nominees, Gabrielle Union, Trevor Noah, Brendan Fraser
2022-11-20
Out Magazine compiled a list of some of the 2023 LGBTQA+ Grammy nominees. Among those on the list were Brandi Carlile (who earned another seven Grammy nominations this year, raising her career total to 25), Lady ...


Gay News

Lambda Legal challenges anti-HIV military policy
2022-11-13
Lambda Legal filed a legal challenge to the U.S. military policy that prevents people living with HIV from enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces, according to a press release. The current policy requires that applicants for ...


Gay News

Center on Halsted hosts health resource event for LGBTQ+ seniors
2022-11-11
Center on Halsted hosted How to Plan for your Changing Health Needs, a Senior Citizen Resource Fair with a particular focus for members of the LGBTQ community on Nov. 8. A host of representatives from medical, ...


Gay News

National AIDS Memorial names 2022-2023 Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship recipients
2022-11-09
-- From a press release - SAN FRANCISCO, California, Nov. 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National AIDS Memorial has announced its 2022/2023 Pedro Zamora Young Leaders scholars, its largest and most diverse class ever, providing ...


Gay News

QPOC and transgender elders become focus of grad school student's master's thesis
2022-11-02
When we think about how LGBTQ+ age, helping people feel connected and "seen" is just one of the many ways a community can care for LGBTQ+ elders. It can contribute to their mental health as they ...


Gay News

Santa Speedo Run Northalsted to return, has raised more $500,000+ for Chicago's LGBTQ+ community
2022-11-01
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (Nov. 1, 2022) The Santa Speedo Run Northalsted is back with a full afternoon of events that begin at noon on Saturday, Dec 3. Proceeds from the annual event benefit Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBTQ ...


Gay News

SAVOR Matcha Cita
2022-10-31
Just steps from the Morgan stop on the Pink and Green lines is a heavenly place. And if you don't believe this writer about Matcha Cita (1017 W. Lake St., with an additional spot at Studio ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Birth certificates, university items, drag-show standoff, 'Models of Pride'
2022-10-30
Following a lawsuit from ACLU, ACLU of West Virginia and the Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources' Vital Registration Office has introduced more accessible and safer policies ...


Gay News

Sheryl Lee Ralph producing HIV/AIDS documentary
2022-10-29
Recent Emmy winner Sheryl Lee Ralph has signed on to produce Unexpected, a documentary short about women of color living with HIV in the South, Variety reported. Directed by Zeberiah Newman, the film will chronicle Masonia ...


 




Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.