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South Side Help Center founder dies

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Mrs. Betty L. Smith, the founder of Chicago's South Side Help Center, has passed away, according to a press release from the organization. She passed away at home after a long illness and complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Her daughter, Vanessa Smith, is the center's current executive director.

Homegoing services are being planned to take place at the church where Smith spent many years in faithful service, Chatham-Avalon Church of Christ, 8601 S. State St. close to the end of next week ( possibly on March 16 or 17 ), and will be announced once they are confirmed.

For 30 years, South Side Help Center has provided critical services to help negate the incidence and impact of HIV/AIDS in Chicago's communities of color. Initially founded in 1987 by Betty Smith, the initial goal was to educate the African-American religious community so it could be sensitive to the needs of people impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Since then, SSHC's services have evolved to include HIV/AIDS outreach and direct care services and a comprehensive range of youth and capacity building programs to help people of all ages embrace a lifestyle of prevention against mental, physical and social ills by providing positive, healthy alternatives so that community residents can lead productive lives.

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