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The Albany Damien Center Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: AIDS, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Counseling, Health, Health Support, Mental Health

Mission: The Albany Damien Center's Mission is to enhance the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS in an affirming environment and to reduce new infections in the communities we serve. The Damien Center envisions a community where people with HIV/AIDS achieve their desired potential and are respected as coworkers, neighbors, and, friends while striving for an HIV free generation.

Programs: The albany damien center inc. S mission is to enhance the lives of people affected by hiv/aids in an affirming environment and to reduce new infections in the communities we serve. Our vision is a community where people with hiv/aids achieve their desired potential and are respected as coworkers, neighbors, and friends, while striving for an hiv free generation. Membership in the albany damien center is for persons who are diagnosed with hiv or are directly affected by hiv. All services for our members are provided free of charge. The albany damien center program areas include the drop-in living room (est. 1988), treasure chest thrift shop (1999), smart meals (2001), paws (2003), and mpower albany (2014). The albany damien center serves the upstate new york region in communities located in albany, clinton, columbia, delaware, essex, franklin, fulton, green, hamilton, montgomery, otsego, rensselaer, saratoga, schenectady, schoharie, warren, and washington counties. The damien center employs 42 staff members and utilizes over 60 volunteers each year to deliver services in a caring, grassroots approach. Since 1999, perry junjulas, executive director and person living with aids, has led the organization and has encouraged active participation by people living with hiv/aids in all areas of program service delivery. The drop-in living room program creates a hiv+ peer-led sanctuary drop-in space with trauma-informed activities designed to improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of our members. Programs and activities include access to treatment, prevention, and care to achieve durable hiv viral suppression, supportive counseling, support groups, holistic therapies (massage, reiki, spiritual care), hiv/aids information resources, computer access, consumer advocacy, and opportunities for social and recreational activities. In 2017, 412 members were served resulting in 8,865 member visits to the living room that is open from 8 am to 6:30 pm mondays through fridays and on weekends for special events. The treasure chest thrift store, located at 295 hamilton street, albany, provides vocational training opportunities, clothing, furniture, and household items for members in need. In 2017, 4,821 items worth over $19,500 were provided to members in need. Smart meals combines nutrition education with well-balanced nutritious hot meals, grocery bags, and food vouchers to local supermarkets. In 2017, over 16,140 restaurant quality meals were served through lunches, dinners, barbecues, pantry bags, and vouchers. There were 730 nutrition health education sessions held in group and individual settings. Paws (pets are wonderful support) provides task, financial, and informational assistance to pet owners living with hiv/aids to ensure that they are not separated from their animal companions when they need each other the most. In 2017, paws served 139 members and their 211 pets providing 17,482 pounds of pet food, litter, and treats, 226 veterinarian visits, while 20 pets received in-home and foster care assistance totaling over 657 days of help. Foundations for living helps individuals living with hiv/aids gain or improve employment, access vocational training, benefits advisement, and stable housing. Mpower albany, located at rocks, 77 central ave, second floor, albany, provides prevention services and a drop-in center for young men of color (ages 18-34). In 2017, mpower provided 1,198 services with 400 encounters to 108 clients. In 2017, the albany damien center served approximately 412 individuals living with hiv/aids and their affected members of their support system who are not accessing hiv medical treatment and supportive care services and have limited social supports. Our members typically are living in poverty, have co-morbid health conditions (mental health, substance abuse, diabetes, renal disease, hepatitis c, cancer, cardiovascular disease, sexually transmitted diseases, et. Al), and inadequate or nonexistent psychosocial supports. They do not access medical nutritional therapy, have food insecurity, and possess little knowledge of food safety or nutrition. The damien center is a unique resource in our northeastern new york community for people living with and at risk for hiv/sti/hepatitis. We provide programs in a comfortable and supportive hiv+ peer-led environment using a health and wellness education model. Our client-centered approach addresses the physical, psychological, and environmental impacts on an individuals overall health. Staff understand the barriers and issues faced by people living with hiv/aids and deliver programs utilizing a culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, harm reduction approach. We work to ensure each person has unfettered access to the life enriching treatment and support they deserve, ensuring hiv prevention in the process. On november 6, 2017, the albany damien center moved to our new building located at 728 madison ave, suite 100, albany, ny 12208-3302. The new 26,000 sq. Foot site now serves as the albany damien centers agency headquarters with space for programming for the hiv community as well as 20 permanent supportive apartments for 22 persons with hiv who survived chronic homelessness. The albany damien center is aggressively engaged in new york states ending the aids epidemic (ete) efforts, helping persons with hiv/aids reduce their barriers to treatment and care so they may achieve durable hiv viral suppression to live a long life and prevent infections in our community.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Robert H.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I almost feel "exonerated"! I just so happened to come across this site. The two reviews I read basically mirrored my experience as an employee between September, 2019 and November, 2019. The 9/11/17 review is spot-on. The Executive Director is a narcissist in sheep's clothing. Previous experience as a puppet should be listed as a pre-requisite for employment. If considering employment at this center, I suggest having the flexibility of a contortionist. Yes, there is a great need for services for this demographic. However, as an employee, check any expectations of being enveloped in a trauma-informed care atmosphere at the door (after all, employees are people too!)

Employee safety is optional. I was threatened by both a current staff member as well as a member. I was not built for absorbing such abuse, ( I had the audacity to inform Administration that I felt unsafe!). Anonymous phone calls charging illicit drug manufacture and usage was basically swept under the crack pipe. A reasonably thinking person would expect that since the Damien Center suffered a devastating loss at the South Lake location, the the possibility of explosive consequences of a tenant who moonlights as a freelance pharmacist, should have had the eyebrows popping off the forehead of His Excellency, the Executive Director. Instead, he exclaimed the DEA came in and investigated (that was a lie). I don't know if I have enough characters remaining to speak about the current Housing Manager and Associate Executive Director of programs. Yikes!!
One was a total invertebrate. The other, sneaky as hell! Tread lightly.

Review from Guidestar

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Not the place to be a staff member. The executive director will not relinquish responsibilities. He is a micro manager and does not have faith in his staff. The organization is staffed with several inept members who are the favorites of the executive director because they will never disagree with him. I've been successful in the business world for 20+ years and thought non-profit would be a nice change. Wrong! I've witnessed drug deals in the employee parking lot, found used needles next to my car, had to put up with druggies coming to the center high, and I am told this is a "Safe Zone". We do not call the police. Not in my world does that happen.

Review from Guidestar

4

Volunteer

Rating: 1

This center does good things for those they like. All others are left in the dust to fend for themselves. The walls have ears so be ware! Confidentiality is enforced when it is convenient for them. The application process is totally invasive far more than is necessary. I have heard outrageous things being done with the information one puts on their application. Most of the guests and staff here are of highly questionable background. Criminals abound so be ware. The place is a real bee hive.