BEHIV’s Closing: A Reminder of the Need for Community

This Letter-to-the-Editor from our CEO, Michelle Wetzel, appeared in the Windy City Times on February 16, 2011.

Dear Editor:

I, along with the staff of Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House, was saddened to hear the news of BEHIV’s closing. For 21 years, BEHIV has served our community through its holistic approach to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Whether through housing and case management, art therapy or HIV testing, BEHIV has been a strong partner in providing expertise and care in the area of HIV/AIDS. We would like to express our gratitude to the staff of BEHIV for their diligence and perseverance in this critical, but often overlooked area for so many years.

The need for housing and services for men and women living with HIV/AIDS in Chicago is great. Current estimates indicate that roughly 15,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Chicago are in need of housing yet we have only about 1,300 units of AIDS housing available. Housing is particularly important because it provides stability and a safe, healthy environment which increases individuals’ ability to maintain necessary medical care. Because of this, we must continue to provide supportive services and housing for those living with HIV/AIDS in our communities.

As a provider of AIDS supportive housing and services, Bonaventure House’s vision is to transform the lives of people struggling with HIV/AIDS within a compassionate, supportive community by providing a home, comprehensive services, and spiritual care. We, and other organizations working in this field, cannot do this without the on-going support of members of our community. As this economy hits individuals hard, it also hurts the organizations struggling to provide vital services for their communities. BEHIV has been the latest casualty of this immensely difficult time.

This is a reminder to us all of the importance of working together to sustain vital community services – especially in tough times. Cash contributions are great, but in-kind donations and volunteering one’s time and talents are equally needed. As we at Bonaventure House continue to work alongside other AIDS service providers like BEHIV, we hope that more and more of our neighbors, friends, partners, and clients will come together to see all of us through these daunting days and into a brighter future.

Michelle Wetzel

CEO, Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House

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