I have been HIV Positive for almost 23 years. I come and volunteer there at the center ever year. I enjoy working with the staff and the clients. I met Jeff on a conference and he invited me down there to see how there program works. I was employed with Prevention Works Needle Exchange Program for 12 years until we closed in Feb, 2011. They have a really good program down there in ATL.
I have been volunteering with the harm reduction center for about 9 months. This organization holds human dignity at the center of its operation. From the day of my orientation, I was shown that AHRC takes people where they are at that day, provides the services available, and offers authentic explanations referrals and understanding when there is something they cannot provide a visitor. As a volunteer, I am acknowledged and valued every week i show up, and that is a wonderful feeling.
The concept of harm reduction does not get much play in the world of recovery, and that is another reason I love AHRC. Because harm reduction is the real time response to what is actually going on with people. They acknowledge the truth about issues faced by people who use drugs and have sex.
Another great thing about AHRC is that it recognizes the contexts of people's lives. In the neighborhood where AHRC operates it would be a farce to tell people to "just say no" when many people live without their basic needs being met. AHRC makes a dollar out of fifteen cents, and makes sure people get fed, clothed, and have a place to talk about what is going on.
One last thing I love about AHRC is the way that they don't make you answer a million irrelevant questions before providing service. They get the information they need but do not ask a person to disclose highly personal things on the first visit, like some social service agencies.
I love AHRC. Their aim is true.
I cannot stress enough how terrible this organization has become. To be truthful, I haven't had anything to do with them since Terry left as the director. And that's not because I didn't try, but rather because my efforts were not welcome.
After having Terry and Mona come to my house to educate me about proper injection methods, I started to do outreach to other Gay/Lesbians in Atlanta that I knew were injecting meth. In addition to referring dozens of people to the AHRC when Terry was running it, I also collected and distributed needles through some of the on-line hookup sites.
When Terry left, I had collected around 1200 needles. They were all being stored in sharps containers and bleach, but they were none the less a huge liability for me to have sitting around my apartment. When I finally got ahold of someone at AHRC, I was informed that they had changed office locations and to my surprise, they were about 5 houses away from me. I was told that Terry was replaced and the woman with whom I spoke indicated that she was the new director and things were changing.
I explained, in great detail, how I had been providing outreach to a population not presently focused on by AHRC and explained that I had 1200 needles that I needed to exchange. I explained that I didn't need 1200 in return, but rather a box of 100 or two would be great for a month. I was willing to meet her any day of the week at any time.
She flat refused. With the nastiest and most self-righteous tone I have ever heard, she told me that if I wanted to do an exchange, I had to go to one of their street exchanges that may or may not happen every other Saturday. The problem was the locations were in a part of town that is patently not safe. Especially for gay white males. I tried and tried for over 3 months to get her to help me...to refer me to another organization that could take the needles, to refer me to the location that they drop off their exchanges.
Nothing worked. She refused to help me or the 500+ men/women that I was providing outreach for. And she was literally 500 feet from my house. It was obvious to me and to anyone who read our email conversation which I will make public, that her motivation was race-related and that she was not going to make ANY special considerations for anyone...especially not some white boy.
Terry Morris was an absolute angel and the AHRC Saved my life and was doing a great job of helping hundreds of gays/lesbians to be safe when using speed. All of that stopped and all outreach to the gay/lesbian community stopped. I have contacted the national headquarters repeatedly with no response.
I am a former Emory student who helped write a magazine article about AHRC. The biggest praise I can give AHRC is that I have never seen more selfless and compassionate people at a non-profit. The employees look people in the eye, memorize their names and stories, and genuinely care about them...no matter their situation or status. No cares for "the least of these" like AHRC.
This organization truly helps those who need it the most. Jeff, Mona and the entire staff of AHRC are caring, compassionate individuals who care for this population and the services they provide. This agency helps so many people in so many different ways and in this day and age its good to see money going directly to the people who need it and people working passionately to help others.
In 2009 I met Jeffrey McDowell at a meeting where he vocally advocated for inclusion of his constituent base in our upcoming English Avenue First Annual Festival of Lights. Drawn by his passionate advocacy, I arranged a meeting and discovered this awesome group of people working and advocating 24/7 for the poorest, most needy in English Avenue, especially, and beyond. I got new education on needle exchange. I met awesome people transformed by the work of this team. I fell in love with the people and the mission of AHRC. I am here to support, encourage, undergird and advance the work of AHRC and the spirits of its staff and other volunteers. Mamie Moore, volunteer Administrative Assistant English Avenue Community Development Corporation
I’ve been coming since the center opened. I was on the street until I started coming to AHRC and getting encouraged and help with life skills. AHRC is helpful with the community for both men and women. I have told people to come to the center and get services like their ID, birth certificate, hygiene kits. I tell other women that I work with they can get condoms anytime and tested for HIV. The organization has been doing a great job with the homeless; letting them take baths and have clean clothes. I am very grateful for Atlanta Harm Reduction. They helped me get a scholarship to go to a harm reduction conference in Las Vegas.
I have had the distinct pleasure of volunteering with AHRC as a graduate student researching addiction. This organization provides critical services to the Atlanta community. AHRC is uniquely capable in its mission to service consumers who require a higher level of care and follow through with linkage to inpatient or outpatient medical, substance abuse treatment or transitional facilities. AHRC has the experience and expertise through strategic partnerships and should be seen as the model for harm reduction work in the region.
Tell your story here and help others understand this charity Working at AHRC has given me a whole new view into the world of none-profits and harm reduction. It is amazing what gets accomplished in this house and the trust that clients have on this organization. Clients know that whether they need a place to stay, or a place to get treatment, we will do our best to get them to that next step and to support them all the way.
By working at an AIDS service organization in Atlanta, I have had the pleasure of working with AHRC on several collaborations. I first began working with the AHRC when they became a member of my capacity building project designed for local community based organizations to enhance their overall infrastructure, so that we all can be “stronger together”. They were very supportive and attended the majority of our events such as our Case Management training. Also, I had the opportunity to assist with HIV testing and counseling at the AHRC with one of their major community events. During the testing and counseling process, they were very supportive and provided assistance when needed. In addition, at one of our staff trainings, staff members from the AHRC presented a Harm Reduction training to the entire staff. The training was very informative and gave me a better sense of the benefits and impacts of harm reduction. I have enjoyed thoroughly working with the AHRC! I look forward to continuing to work with AHRC in the near future.