By Dan Werle, CNA Media Team
In spring 1990, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) opened its doors to the nation’s first free-standing, community-based program committed to serving people who are low income and living with HIV.
Nearly 27 years later, the HIV Day Center continues to serve the needs of people living with HIV.
It’s located in the Ainsworth United Church of Christ building, near 29th Avenue and Ainsworth Street. According to center literature, it’s one of EMO’s HIV Services programs that strive to address basic needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in a manner of respect, compassion and safety.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. All services provided by the day center staff and volunteers are free, and include hot breakfasts and lunches, internet access, free Wi-Fi, laundry machines, clothing, hot showers and hygiene supplies.
Volunteer practitioners and students also provide massages, haircuts, foot care and acupuncture. Additionally, information and referral services, and knowledgeable, compassionate staff support are available to help clients access other resources available for people living with HIV.
Jesse Herbach has been with EMO’s HIV Services for the past 3½ years. He points out the core of the project is best illustrated through the intangibles clients receive at the center.
“When people are less isolated and more engaged with their peers, their health outcomes are better,” he said. “The center provides a place where people with vastly different backgrounds create strong friendships.” That takes place sharing meals, shooting pool or during the popular Monday bingo games.
People seeking services at the center often show up for just meals and clothing initially.
“What keeps them coming back are the relationships that get built,” Jesse explained. They befriend other clients, volunteers and staff members.
If you’re interested in volunteering with the HIV Day Center the Daily Bread Express, its companion program for home-delivered meals, contact Mika Mulkey at MMulkey@EMOregon.org or 503.460.3822.
Another way you can help is by participating in the Thursday, April 27, Dining Out For Life. More than 30 restaurants in the Portland metro area will donate 20 to 35 percent of each diner’s bill to HIV services in the area, including the HIV Day Center.
This year, Concordia area businesses participating include Extracto, Kennedy School, P’s & Q’s Market and Red Sauce Pizza. For a full list of participating restaurants, visit DiningOutForLife.com/portland.
Dan Werle lives in Concordia with his wife, Anna, and their dogs.