As we inch towards the summer months, the residents at Alexian Brother’s South Side location have a lot to look forward to. To encourage the newest twenty-three residents to engage more with one another, the outdoor space surrounding the South Side location will be transformed to create a community courtyard. The idea was presented to Alexian Brothers mid-December of 2011 by members of the AIDS United/ AIDS Foundation of Chicago AmeriCorps team.
The team’s vision simply put was to provide a space where the support of friends and peers can reduce stress, encourage a positive outlook on life, and motivate individuals to remain proactive about their health. The team members volunteer full time at various social service non-profit organizations around the Chicago area. Their roles include providing health education, HIV testing and counseling, in addition to other social support services to Chicago communities hit hardest by HIV/AIDS.
Since the beginning of 2012, the Team Chicago has rigorously set action plans to meet fundraising goals by engaging with the residents and administration members of the South Side location. A needs assessment focus group was held, in addition to an increase in successful partnerships with local Chicago businesses such as Target, Early to Bed, Trader Joe’s and Home Depot. Additionally, both God’s Gang, a horticulture organization, as well as Whole Foods have agreed to provide flowers, plants, seeds and planting supplies.
Most recently a benefit was held in early April to also raise funds for the cause at Multi Kulti, a multicultural community center located in the heart of Chicago serving the public as a central location for diversity, artistic expression, and activism for social justice. The events purpose was three-fold: to promote safe sex, to raise awareness of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, and to raise money for the project.
Soon efforts towards purchasing of courtyard furniture will be completed for the outside space such as picnic tables and benches. The team is thankful for the friends, family, and co-workers who have supported the long-term project thus far and can’t wait to reveal the flourishing new courtyard to the community!
By guest blogger Brittaney Bethea, member of Team Chicago