Blue Christmas — 2nd Annual PALSS SC Christmas Fundraiser

Christmas came early at the 2nd annual PALSS SC Christmas fundraiser event, hosted by Blue IntheVista. On Sunday, December 21st bidders gathered for holiday festivities and a chance to bid on a variety of great items that could be that perfect last minute gift. ALL proceeds will go directly to PALSS to support our community initiatives. PALSS friend and DJ Clint was on the wheels of steel spreading yuletide joy with sounds of the season.

Making Proud Choices!

Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services (PALSS) received funding from the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (year 3) to facilitate Making Proud Choices! intervention with middle school aged youth in the community.   The S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy mission is to improve the health and economic well-being of individuals, communities and the state of South Carolina by preventing teen pregnancy.   In order to achieve its mission, the organization works with public and private schools and community based organizations utilizing many programs to assist our youth.   S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy held an orientation event on September 30, 2014 for the new PREP grant sub-awardees. The meeting allowed them to provide an update on South Carolina’s teen pregnancy rates which have decreased 54 percent between 1992-2013. The Making Proud Choices! curriculum is based on educating middle school aged youth in the community to make proud, responsible choices.

The 2013-2014 PREP grant year deliverables of 150 program participants were met and exceeded; the year was closed meeting 112.7%. We had 169 youth successfully complete the Making Proud Choices! curriculum. PALSS has been awarded the PREP grant again for the 2014-2015 grant year and we look forward to working with the community to have another successful year. We appreciate Richland County Parks and Recreation for continuing to partner with us to provide the Making Proud Choices! intervention to youth in our community. Recently Mekeeba McMillian and I completed the Making Proud Choices! facilitators training and look forward to another successful year.

Fifth Year of CDC Grant Off To A Great Start

Lindsey Sowers

The fifth year of the CDC’s PS10-1003 grant began in July with the ambitious goal recruiting 450 African American Men who have sex with Men (AAMSM) to provide HIV testing. Linkage to Care services would then be provided for those who test positive for HIV. The program is off to a great start and gaining momentum, largely because of wonderful volunteers like Lindsey Sower.  Lindsey has been a part of the PALSS family of volunteers for two years.

Lindsey has played a significant role in helping to organize World AIDS Day and Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. He has served on the Community Promise Advisory Board, as a Peer Advocate, and has spent countless hours providing community outreach. In July Lindsey volunteered to become the first recruiter for the new Social Networking Strategy. Without hesitation, Lindsey began to recruit AAMSM to be tested. All of Lindsey’s hard work and determination has paid off. His first assignment was to recruit 8 to 10 AAMSM for HIV Testing. Not only did he meet that goal, he exceeded it by more than 100% by recruiting 21 AAMSM in the first month. Lindsey definitely has the 3Ds “Dedication, Determination and the Desire”. Thanks Lindsey Sower for your hard work and extraordinary recruiting efforts.

Year four of the CDC funding cycle wrapped up on June 30, 2014. PALSS staff worked hard to provide Comprehensive Risk Counseling Services (CRCS) and managing Community Promise, a community level HIV/STD prevention program. This intervention focuses on accessing and analyzing information about HIV/STD risk behaviors and influencing factors to help identify target populations to make behavioral changes. Community Promise distributed over 800 role model stories which exceeded the program goal by 150%. During the funding cycle, testing was provide at more than eight different venues testing 40 individuals. Twenty-four clients were enrolled in the CRCS/Clear intervention and more than 52 referrals were made during this funding cycle.

Building a Successful Team

After several years of volunteering and providing contract services, CTRS is pleased to announce the hiring of Darrell Arthur and Shirley Graham. Both have volunteered and providing contract services at PALSS for several years.  I was introduced to Darrell back in 2005 as facilitator of the EMPACT Project.  During the group Darrell impressed me with his extensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS, group leadership and powerful presentation of the spoken word.  With his natural leadership skills he began assisting with facilitation of the group.  Several years passed where I lost contact with Darrell until January 2013 when Darrell walked in PALSS door and said “I’m ready Dean”.  During the first four months of 2013 he registered and successfully completed all requirements to become a CTRS specialist. Darrell volunteered countless hours. We were pleased to make him an official part of our team in December 2013.

Over the first nine months of 2014 Darrell has continued his growth with the agency, obtaining additional specialized training in ARTAS,  and has been instrumental in maintaining the reporting of clients’ STI results. He continues to show the dedication toward the mission of PALSS.

Shirley Graham joined the PALSS team as a contractor with the WISE Women empowerment group.  She was one of the lead facilitators of the group along and provided CTRS to the women recruited during outreach activities.  Shirley brings extensive training in various DHEC programs.  Over the past few years she has supported several agency initiatives and special programs including World AIDS Day.  During her transition from a WISE to a CTRS contractor she has attended several national conferences and retreats and is very aggressive in networking and obtaining new information.

Nike Jackson may be a new hire but she is not a stranger to the PALSS team having started her internship with our organization in 2102 during her senior year at Benedict College.  After being placed in the CTRS/EMPACT program Nike showed that she was very interested in testing and men’s health.  In the spring semester she completed all requirements to facilitate CTRS.  Also during that time she played an important role in group facilitation with incarcerated men with the EMPACT Project.  She was part of a team of interns that conducted a question and answer session with the inmates which opened her eyes to a population that she had not been exposed to.  Upon graduating Nike was offered a position at Care Team in Myrtle Beach SC in case management and CTRS.  Her internship at PALSS prepared her to able to be able to take advantage of that opportunity. After reaching out about employment opportunities in Columbia she submitted her resume for the Linkage to Care position vacancy and became the successful candidate.

We officially welcome Darrell, Shirley and Nike to the team as PALSS employees and wish all of you great success.