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VOL. 128 | NO. 79 | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jeremy Park

Dining Out for Life

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we discussed the Memphis Area Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which is focused on making a positive, and eternal, impact in the arena of athletics. This week let us explore an organization with the mission of helping people affected by HIV/AIDS live well: Friends For Life Corp.

Friends For Life has been serving the Mid-South since 1985. Originally established as the Aid to End AIDS Committee by a group of friends whose loved ones were dying from complications associated with HIV/AIDS, the organization later became known as Friends For Life and merged with a separate nonprofit, Aloysius Home, to significantly expand its services to include permanent supportive housing. Now, as one of the oldest and most comprehensive AIDS service organizations in the Southern United States, Friends For Life serves an average of 2,500 individuals affected with HIV/AIDS annually.

When it comes to programs, Friends For Life has a comprehensive, client-centered approach that includes education, housing, food and healthy life skills, along with a strong support network. Through collaboration with more than 25 medical providers, social service agencies and pharmaceutical companies, the organization coordinates Wellness University, which offers a variety of educational and skills-building programs with an emphasis on learning how to live with HIV/AIDS. Their Nancy Fletcher Food Pantry is the second largest food pantry in the Mid-South, providing up to 16 tons of food per month to more than 1,500 persons affected by HIV/AIDS, including 250 children. Permanent supportive housing is provided in an agency-owned apartment building with other housing provided through tenant-based rental assistance.

With an estimated 10,000 individuals living in the Mid-South affected by HIV/AIDS, there is much that we can do to help further their efforts. Part of their goal is to help heighten awareness, facilitate acceptance, and promote prevention in the community. Many stories are touching and counter to stereotypes, like a young man who was infected through a blood transfusion related to a medical emergency. Friends For Life offers HIV testing, along with prevention education that is extremely valuable for our community to be equipped with facts.

There are many opportunities to volunteer. The organization hosts free congregate meals, known as Feast for Friends, twice a month at St. John’s Methodist Church. Consider helping to cook or serve a meal. Help is always appreciated in the food pantry to help re-stock the shelves. You can also make a difference by simply eating out on Thursday, April 25, for their fifth annual Dining Out For Life event. Dine at a local participating restaurant, like Napa Café, Alchemy, Erling Jenson, or Hog and Hominy, and a portion of your bill will be donated. See the full list of restaurants at www.diningoutforlife.com/Memphis.

Learn more about Friends For Life by visiting www.friendsforlifecorp.org or contacting Executive Director Kim Daugherty at 272-0855 or kim.daughtery@friendsforlifecorp.org.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).

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