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September 30, 2021
September 30 is Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today, we honour the children, survivors, families and communities affected by the residential school system. As an organization, we continue to acknowledge the harmful legacy and ongoing impact of atrocities committed against Indigenous communities.
This is the first year that September 30 has been designated a federal statutory holiday. In addition to honouring this day through a circle ceremony and a moment of silence, RHAC will keep our doors and services open to continue providing essential services to community members.
Here are some actions you can consider taking today (and everyday):
- Wear orange, in solidarity, to honour the experiences of the children, survivors, families and communities affected by residential schools. Visit orangeshirtday.org to learn more.
- Review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
- Listen to the stories and experiences of residential school survivors, including books and media by Indigenous artists, authors and creators.
- Donate to Indigenous-led causes, like Atlohsa Family Healing Services.
- Acknowledge and learn more about the traditional territories you are living and working on. Visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-first-nations-maps or https://native-land.ca or https://www.caut.ca/content/guide-acknowledging-first-peoples-traditional-territory to get started.
September 9, 2021
Please join us virtually on Thursday, September 9 from 6-7:30 PM for Regional HIV/AIDS Connection's Annual General Meeting (AGM) as we review our performance during the fiscal year, reflect on key impacts we have made in the community, and the election of new Board members.
Join virtually, via Zoom, here: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88208213878
Review our 2020-21 Annual General Report here.
May 6, 2021
Please be advised that Regional HIV/AIDS Connection's 186 King Street location will be closed for building-wide maintenance on Thursday, May 6. Standard business hours will resume on May 7.
To ensure continued support for individuals who access Carepoint, Counterpoint and other services, RHAC will be deploying outreach teams during this temporary closure.
For questions and concerns, please contact a member of RHAC's leadership team:
• Sonja Burke: email@example.com or 519-520-6690
• Megan Van Boheemen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 226-377-8721
• Lily Bialas: email@example.com or 226-378-6785
• Holly Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-476-1398
• Brian Lester: email@example.com or 519-619-0038
April 19, 2021
A Message from RHAC's Coordinator of Volunteer Services
It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week!
It seems fitting that this week also falls within the week we celebrate A Taste for Life (ATFL). Pre-COVID, I would be engaging with many of you regarding ATFL as hosts or greeters. Sadly, we cannot come together in person, but we do hope you will continue to support ATFL, and local restaurants, by ordering from your favourite restaurant.
Volunteering has looked quite different this past year due to COVID restrictions. Instead of in-person volunteering, we have seen an increase in community groups and individuals giving back in different ways, including making cloth masks for our clients and service users. We have seen our Red Scarf participants continue to provide us with scarves which have been distributed to those in need as well as stored for (hopefully) a Red Scarf event this November. We have been blessed with community food drives from TD and King’s University College (who also hosted a car wash with proceeds going directly to RHAC).
On a more personal note, I miss you. I miss seeing your faces every week. I miss engaging with you regarding Red Scarf, A Taste for Life, Tachycardia, and other volunteer events. I cannot wait until the day we are reunited and can all be together in person. Until then, stay safe and thank you for your continued support of RHAC during these unprecedented times.
We simply could not do what we do without you.
Coordinator of Volunteer Services
March 1, 2021
In honour of Women’s History Month, RHAC celebrates the incredible contributions women have made to our history, and our future. As an organization, we are always honouring the history and current realties of the HIV/AIDS movement. Since the earliest days of the AIDS crisis, women especially LGBT2QIA+ women of colour have been at the centre of community responses to HIV/AIDS as trailblazers and pioneers. Today, women continue to make HIV history as activists, organizers, scientists, health professionals, and more. This month is an opportunity to remember that women make history everyday as pioneers of movements and storytellers. Women are building better futures for all of us in no shortage of small, large, quiet, loud, and caring ways. Happy Women’s History Month!
Don’t miss out on these special dates and events during Women’s History Month. Details coming soon:
- March 8: #InternationalWomensDay
- March 10: Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
- March 12: Doing It for Ourselves (A Pleasure Workshop with Jess)
- Weekly, starting March 8: Empowered (A Feminist Film Club in Collaboration with PLUMP)
- and a special #InternationalWomensDay Speaker Series (announcing soon!)
February 23, 2021
“The Harm Reduction Peer Empowerment COVID Recovery Project is meeting people where they are with mutual respect and kindness,” says Sonja Burke, RHAC’s Director of Harm Reduction. “The impact is: value and validation, a full stomach, equal pay for equal work, and human connection.”
Since launching in January, the project has welcomed 6 peers who work various shifts during the week, helping to prepare harm reduction and wound care kits. They are paid hourly, receive a warm meal, and are provided public transportation to and from our site. “It is a warm and safe place for people to be during the day versus on the streets," says Sonja.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the demand for harm reduction supplies has only increased. A growing number of clients are counting on RHAC’s harm reduction kits, which are made available through our 26 partner satellite locations, regular outreach services, and the new HOME program (www.homeprogram.ca). The Peer Empowerment project allows us to meet this demand and values the participation of people who use drugs by engaging them in our response to the ongoing opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.
People experiencing addiction need access to safe and supportive spaces that can foster human connection. This is especially true during COVID-19, when isolation measures are impacting marginalized folks and the availability of services. Our peer program provides a space where participants can make connections with each other and to other supports (including housing, food banks and health services).
We’re pleased with the positive impact this new program is making and—with the support and input of our peers—we expect this project to continue improving the lives of people experiencing addiction. Thank you to Jackie Hutchison our Peer Support Coordinator, to the Emergency Community Support Fund (London Community Foundation) and, most importantly, our peer participants for supporting this important and impactful initiative!
Here's what our peers had to say about this new project:
“I feel accepted and part of a group that understands me and doesn’t judge me.”
"My life is better since this started."
"I wake up feeling like I have a purpose each day."
(Photo: Peer Support Coordinator Jackie Hutchison)
February 17, 2021
Every year, the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards recognize volunteers for providing years of dedicated service to an organization. On February 17, we came together—virtually—to celebrate RHAC's 2020 recipients: Madeleine Barrette, Ray Sutherland and Jerry Ross.
• Madeleine Barrette celebrates 10 years of service to the John Gordon Home, where Madeleine is known as “The Cookie Lady”. Once a week, she bakes the most delicious cookies for residents (and some lucky staff). She also supports our fundraising events, such as A Taste for Life and A Heartfelt Evening.
• Ray Sutherland was awarded for 5 years of service at RHAC, where Ray has been an integral part of the volunteer reception team, Red Scarf, A Taste for Life, and our weekly volunteer drop-in.
• Jerry Ross was recognized for 5 years of service at the John Gordon Home. Jerry assists with weekly grocery shopping for residents and helps with set up special occasions like the Summer BBQ and Holiday events.
RHAC, and our John Gordon Home program, are so lucky to work with dedicated, committed volunteers who have stayed with us for years! On behalf of our clients, staff and Board: Thank you to our volunteers for all that you do.
February 4, 2021
Today we’re excited to announce the official launch of the Health Outreach Mobile Engagement (H.O.M.E) Program. The H.O.M.E Program aims to improve the health outcomes and healthy equity of highly marginalized individuals by providing mobile health services to people where they are at.
The H.O.M.E Program provides a multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral mobile response to improve the health outcomes and health equity of highly marginalized individuals in London. The H.O.M.E Program serves individuals who face barriers to accessing traditional models of healthcare and social services, including those who are homeless, insecurely housed, or under-housed.
The program is a collaborative approach between the London Intercommunity Health Centre, Middlesex-London Paramedic Services, Addiction Services of Thames Valley, and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection with various site partners including Goodwill Industries, London & Middlesex Community Housing, Winter Interim Solution to Homelessness Coalition, and Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
The HOME service model is the kind of progressive and integrated health care approach that is needed both in the context of the present COVID 19 situation and when we move past this pandemic. RHAC is pleased to collaborate with these respected community partners on this initiative as we strive to connect with and provide life-saving support to many of London’s most vulnerable citizens. - Brian Lester, Executive Director of RHAC
Visit www.homeprogram.ca to learn more.
February 1, 2021
February is Black History Month. Throughout the month, virtual events organized by the London Black History Coordinating Committee (LBHCC) will be celebrating the strength and resilience of Black communities in Southwestern Ontario. This year, all events (except February 19th's African Food Festival) will take place online using Zoom. You can register for online events at lbhcc.eventbrite.com and learn more at lbhcc.ca.
African, Caribbean and Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
On February 7, African, Caribbean and Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helps to raise awareness and address stigma surrounding HIV, which continues to disproportionately impact African, Caribbean and Black communities.
Last year, many health experts and agencies finally acknowledged the long-standing effects of anti-Black racism as a public health crisis. As stated by CATIE, systemic racism in Canada
"...has created inequities that leave African, Caribbean and Black Canadians more vulnerable to HIV infection and poor health outcomes. We have seen anti-Black racism in the disproportionate policing, criminalization and media reporting of African, Caribbean and Black people living with HIV for non-disclosure of HIV status. Furthermore, disproportionate rates of incarceration have a compounding effect on the risk of HIV and hepatitis C infection."
All of us must address inequities and systemic racism in our communities, not just one day or month out of the year, but every single day. To learn more, visit BlackHIVDay.ca.
December 23, 2020
Effective Dec 26 at 12:01 am until January 23rd 2021 the government of Ontario has announced that the province will be subject to a shutdown.
The province-wide shutdown will look similar to the shutdown back in March, with only essential businesses being allowed to remain open.
Like the shutdown in March, RHACs “essential services” will continue to operate and will include;
- Carepoint / Counterpoint Programs
- John Gordon Home Program
- HIV/HCV Support Services
- Various Administrative Services
This shutdown is considered a state of emergency and RHAC may deploy staff resources to meet coverage needs across program areas as necessary (with training and support).
Given this is the holiday season we recognize this development comes at a challenging time for most people. It is important to remind everyone that the best way to prevent COVID 19 transmission is through adherence to all public health recommendation/measures.
It is important to note that the government is also asking that “people do not leave home unless it is for an essential reason and only travel outside their own region if absolutely necessary”. Further the government has notified citizens that “Anyone who travels within Canada during the province-wide shutdown is being asked to self-isolate upon their return to Ontario.”