AIDS Care Group Grows Fast, As Need Grows

By David Eisenberger and Jenny DiTomasso

The recipient of the Humanitarian Award for February is AIDS Care Ocean State (ACOS). The organization opened about 20 years ago with four units of safe, supervised housing, and has expanded to 90 units, according to Stephen Hartley, development director of ACOS.

There are many functions in this diverse organization, which is located at 18 Parkis Avenue in Providence.

It began with the Donate Exchange on Elmwood Avenue, which opened as an HIV/AIDS prevention service.

The need for more services led to further outreach and expansion. One is Adopt a Family, which assists families in need; furnishes food and gifts during the holidays, and offers heating assistance.

Sunrise House, a licensed HIV/AIDS assisted living establishment, provides a setting for at least 10 adults. The goal is to help clients reach health stability and to move back into the community.

Facts Nursery provides a pediatric nursery for babies with crack syndrome or HIV/AIDS. A main focus of this service is to work with mothers and to make sure that the babies are provided for.

Malm Manor, consisting of 10 one-bedroom apartments is funded by the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Another facility, Mount Hope, which is on the verge of opening, will provide more assisted living. Residents are HIV/AIDS positive. All the units are owned by ACOS. Residents are entitled to received round-the-clock monitoring and a 90-day stay at 18 Parkis Avenue.

In the area of prevention and outreach, 75 volunteers go to various locations in the city, offering clean needles and providing a safe place to dispose of used needles. The volunteers stress prevention of disease.

Fundraising includes art auctions, raffles, and word of mouth.

Hartley said, “even with a bad economy, we had more contributions than last year. Money is put into an account, then distributed to the various agencies.”

He sees difficult fundraising days ahead, but added, “I will find the money to run it!” He noted that the gay community has contributed $50,000 dollars and plenty of clothes to ACOS.

AIDS Care Ocean State can be reached at 401-521-3603.

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