Photos courtesy of The Aliveness Project
The Aliveness Project has been helping Minnesotans deal with both pandemics, COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. Now it’s time to celebrate.
The Aliveness Project provides lifesaving services, food, and other basic necessities to people living with HIV (PLWH) throughout Minnesota. Now, the organization is helping folks with HIV find housing with the new Rapid Rehousing Program.
“We firmly believe that housing is health care, and this program will provide direct aid to get our members off the streets/shelters and into a home of their own,” says Dylan Boyer, communications and events manager of The Aliveness Project.
Another new service of The Aliveness Project is the at-home HIV testing kit, which allows folks to get tested for HIV during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through The Aliveness Project’s partnership with Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens, the organization is able to provide at-home HIV self tests, which are mailed directly to people’s homes.
Clearly, The Aliveness Project has its hands full meeting the needs of folks with HIV in Minnesota. And the pandemic hasn’t made things any easier.
“The pandemic has hit our community hard. The Aliveness Project is first and foremost a community center and a safe space for PLWH to live without shame or stigma,” Boyer says. “When COVID-19 hit last March, we made the difficult decision to end all communal gathering to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our HIV community safe. Fortunately, we have still been able to provide to-go meals, curbside pickup groceries, and telehealth services to keep our community connected.”
Boyer says the HIV/AIDS community has continued showing up for one another during the pandemic, despite the lack of in-person gatherings. “The amount of love and support we have received this past year is astonishing and it kept our spirits high,” he says.
Despite the many limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boyer emphasizes that there are still many ways people can get involved and give back to the HIV/AIDS community, which is perhaps more important now than ever.
“We are allowing volunteers back in the building at a limited capacity, and face masks are required. Many of our volunteers are on a bi-weekly schedule or come in once a month,” Boyer says. “You could also host a food drive at your work, apartment building, or neighborhood. Our food shelf is always taking donations of non-perishable goods and personal hygiene items.”
Another way to take action is to send an email to your elected representative and ask them to support The Aliveness Project’s three bills that have been introduced in St. Paul this month, which would expand prevention medications and protect access to lifesaving HIV treatments.
Though the work of The Aliveness Project is certainly never-ending and incredibly crucial, the organization still makes time to connect with the community and celebrate life.
The Aliveness Project’s Dining Out For Life event, on Thursday, April 29, allows attendees to order takeout, do curbside pickup, or dine-in safely at a local supporting restaurant. Whatever you choose, a portion of your bill will benefit The Aliveness Project and those living with HIV/AIDS.
Another upcoming event is the Red Ribbon Ride, which is happening August 20-22. Participants “pedal forward together as we venture through the wilderness of Minnesota to raise funds and awareness of HIV/AIDS,” Boyer says. Registration for the Red Ribbon Ride is now open.
For more information about The Aliveness Project, visit aliveness.org.