Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thanks and Update from the Poz Café

Hi everyone,

We’d like to share the following information with you about last Thursday’s Poz Café event. Since not all the volunteers from the sponsoring congregations have email, please share this report with the volunteers from your group. You might want to consider including a report in your congregation’s bulletin or newsletter.

We have included some photos from the event. If you would like more, please let me know.

Thank you all for your participation in making our March Poz Café luncheon a success! Caring congregations and organizations putting their faith in action and sharing love and great food!

With support from March’s fantastic sponsoring congregations, we were able to serve 131 people at this month’s event!  That’s a 13% increase over last year’s March Poz Café.  This number includes people living with HIV, their guests, congregational volunteers, and TIHAN volunteers and staff.  The March lunch buffet featured Salisbury steak, buttered noodles, sautéed zucchini and squash, tossed garden greens, dinner rolls with butter, and homemade chocolate devil’s food cake.  We celebrated with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, with many volunteers dressed for the occasion.

Some highlights from this month:

With assistance from our partner agencies Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest and COPE Community Services, we provided transportation to over 6 CarePartners and guests who otherwise may not have been able to attend.
We distributed 75 Care Packages, decorated bags filled with toiletry items, to our CarePartners living with HIV/AIDS.  The sponsoring congregations donated all of the products to use in stuffing these bags.  Thanks to Our Mother of Sorrows for the festive decorated bags they contributed.
The St. Patrick’s Day theme was complete with Our Mother of Sorrows’ fabulous table centerpieces.
With assistance from the staff at St. Francis in the Foothills, we were able to project a slideshow continuously throughout the event that depicted a 2013 TIHAN year-in-review.  Additionally, during our announcements we recognized the outstanding Poz Café volunteers, educational speakers, Excellence in Caring volunteer nominees, and Models of Empowerment nominees who received certificates and recognition at our recent Annual Meeting.  The CarePartners and guests in attendance at this month’s Poz Café, many of whom helped nominate these individuals, got to see the faces behind TIHAN’s Care and Support programs and applaud these fantastic volunteers.
Finally, many CarePartners received generously donated gift prizes by winning BINGO or the raffle.

And of course we can’t forget the great meal and the hugs and the “safe space” that you help create at Poz Café every month, enabling our CarePartners to meet others living with HIV, increase their social support, and know that there are caring people from faith communities who welcome them and are working to end the stigma that still exists.

Our sponsoring congregations brought 15 congregational volunteers to help this month, at least 3 of whom were joining us for the first time.  Thank you all for your willingness to help!  Our regular TIHAN volunteers did a great job of helping the congregational volunteers have an experience of learning and serving.
Each month, we survey the congregational volunteers, and the March responses are below.  (10 of the 15 congregational volunteers completed all or part of the survey this month.)  The survey results were positive and will assist us in future events.

We would also like to share a few comments from congregational volunteers that really speak to the atmosphere of the event:
The best part of Poz Café was:
“All the great people I met”“Very well organized”

Special Mention

We want to thank our Poz Café 101 Educational Hour speakers for their volunteer time: Linda relayed the history of TIHAN and the story of the Poz Café monthly event, and taught basic information about HIV and AIDS so that all of our congregational volunteers were prepared to serve with a common level of knowledge about these issues. Jeffrey shared his personal story of living with HIV and becoming part of the TIHAN community, placing Linda’s educational facts into a real-life context. Our Poz Café 101 team hopes you enjoyed the educational hour and feel well-informed to outreach within your communities and continue the mission of decreasing the stigma of those living with HIV/AIDS. The congregational volunteers arrived en masse and were ready to prepare the meal and hall for a fabulous lunch and afternoon of compassion and connecting with people living with HIV.  We appreciate the energy that was generated and all the fellowship that our volunteers provided to our CarePartners. Special thanks go to congregational coordinators Beverly Mahl, Laura Stehle, Consuelo Lucero, Deacon Ralph Taylor, Dianne Gundersen, and Father John Smith for all their efforts in planning, shopping for food, collecting Care Package and raffle/BINGO prize items, and organizing the congregational volunteers.  A special thank-you also goes to out to the clergy in attendance, in addition to those who served as coordinators: Reverend Vicki Hesse and Monsignor Thomas Cahalane volunteered with their congregations.  Thanks so much for joining us!


We hope you had a great time, and if you’d like to volunteer with Poz Café more than the once a year that your congregation sponsors the event, please contact us at 299-6647!

Having started with just a handful of people at those first luncheons so many years ago, Poz Café is now the largest regular gathering place for people living with HIV in Southern Arizona!  TIHAN is 100% privately funded and counts on people like you to continue this program, and all of our work.

If you or someone you know would like to make a financial donation to help support Poz Café and keep this program operating, your contribution is greatly needed, and appreciated!  Make a donation now and write in the “memo line” of your check that it is for Poz Café (or CLICK HERE TO DONATE to make a secure online donation.)  And please encourage your faith community to make a contribution to keep TIHAN operating.  The economy has affected all of our faith communities, our CarePartners, and TIHAN; but we have faith that you can help us sustain our programs.  We cannot continue this work without the financial support of our faith communities and volunteers.  Please help advocate for funding for TIHAN in your congregation and in any way that you can do so. 
Thanks again for your support of Poz Café, and for making so much possible through TIHAN!

Poz Café is made possible in part by donations from compassionate congregations and individuals of TIHAN, along with funding from Rincon Congregational United Church of Christ, St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church, and the Sundt Foundation.  Support for transportation is provided by Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest and COPE Community Services.

Deirdre Demers
Program Manager
Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN)
2660 N. 1st  Avenue
Tucson, Arizona 85719
(520) 299-6647
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Most of the CarePartners living with HIV/AIDS who receive support services from TIHAN are people whose household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty level.  Because of this, the State of Arizona now allows TIHAN donors to take advantage of the working poor tax credit.  Your donation to TIHAN could reduce personal income taxes owed to the state of Arizona by up to $200 for individuals and $400 for those filing jointly (if you itemize).  In essence, a donation to TIHAN of up to $200 (or $400 for married couples) may have no cost to you the donor, since you might pay that much less in taxes if you are eligible for this state tax credit.