The Vista Project was HIV/AIDS Education and Outreach Coordinator with Northland Cares. We were fortunate to have two extremely smart, self-directed, and committed young women who came to work with us on this project. During the first, foundational year, Jennifer learned the mechanics of HIV testing as well as the counseling portion and began reaching out to recovery homes, local colleges, and other populations who may be at higher risk of contracting and spreading HIV. Toward the end of her year, she began collaborating with our county health department to deliver HIV education and outreach to the community. Upon Anna’s arrival, we began formalizing and developing the relationship with county health, which resulted in a ‘tightening up’ of the delivery system for both the HIV testing and education segments. In collaboration with county health, a training process and “HIV Tester Toolkit” was developed that follows strict guidelines about how the testing is done to ensure that every person being tested is getting the same information and treated in the same way. The foundations laid by Jennifer in the first year continued to develop in terms of numbers of events and outreach opportunities.
VISTA was the only way to have this project advanced at this point in Northland Cares’ history. There was little funding for a position of this type, and there was not a structure to plug it into. Having a VISTA member working on this project demonstrated the continuing need and great value for this service to our community.
It was with the foundations laid by Jennifer and Anna that I wrote a proposal to a couple of our donors and successfully secured funding to pay for a position to take on this important role.
-Tricia Goffena-Beyer Executive Director Northland Cares