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.
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If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I would, without hesitation, fire the director that replaced Terry Morris and rehire her. Terry's vision and compassion saved many lives, whereas the new director could care less about harm reduction. Even if they couldn't get Terry back, the director that replaced her should be terminated.
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This is unfair to ask because the organization under different leadership saved my life and inspired me to help others in my position. The new leadership, however, eliminated all of that.
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