Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Monday - Friday

Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

Revivals Palm Desert soon to be “El Pa …

“Location, location, location” might be a realtor’s cliché but it still drives every retailer’s decisions about where to place their new store.

Location – to the third power — has driven Revivals Palm Desert to move from its location just off I-10, at 72-750 Dinah Shore Drive near Costco, and relocate seven miles south down Monterey Avenue to 72-885 Highway 111 near El Paseo. Still in Palm Desert, the new store will have the Westfield mall across the street and the posh El Paseo shopping district behind it. This popular corner at 111 and Monterey is awash in traffic that promises to drive Revivals sales skyward, according to Dane Koch, our Director of Retail.

“The move is all about location,” Dane says. “The store near Costco was so hard to find because we had no visibility from Dinah Shore.” With such heavy reliance on Costco shoppers, to sustain our business, the location offered little ability to grow. Expanding is essential for Revivals to continue its important contribution to D.A.P.’s diversified revenue stream to provide patient and client services.

“The new location on 111 offers great visibility. We believe we’ll retain our current shoppers while gaining new ones,” Dane smiled. “Being located in a strip mall with other successful retailers will greatly increase our traffic and sales. I believe we’ll see a corresponding improvement in the store’s profit. And every one of our 55 volunteers and six paid staff are committed to help us do that in support of D.A.P.’s mission.”

While he declined to elaborate, Dane hinted that this new location will have a closer affiliation with D.A.P.’s 100 Women annual giving program. Watch for details in future issues of DOSE

Foot and vehicle traffic abound at the new location in the shopping center that’s anchored by Staples office supply center and Rite Aid pharmacy. At 15,000 square feet, the new store will be a bit smaller while still retaining the mod-meets-vintage flavor of Revivals, which sells new Mode furniture, along with gently used clothing, housewares, appliances and more.

While a formal Grand Opening date is still pending, the new location will have a “soft opening” on Saturday, May 28, offering a $25 coupon on every purchase of $50 or more. The coupons will be good for the entire month of June. The old location will remain open until very close to that date.


D.A.P.’s nutritionist prescribes good …

The health care world, including Desert AIDS Project, looks at nutrition as a key part of good health. That’s why Gustavo Wong, registered dietitian and certified exercise physiologist, joined us about eight months ago as yet another facet of D.A.P.’s holistic approach to the care of our patients and clients.

Food is medicine for all of us, particularly for those living with HIV. “As a way of eating to live a healthier life, I recommend less processed food while choosing more natural items from a specific array of food groups,” Wong says. “Those groups are vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as good sources of carbohydrates, along with protein from meats and healthy fats.”

FoodPlate1As a primary guideline to healthier eating, Wong recommends the “plate method.” The basic idea is to have half of the plate devoted to non-starchy vegetables with a quarter for proteins and a quarter for carbs. However, Wong does tailor recommendations to the needs of individual clients. For example, some foods aggravate gastro-intestinal systems of certain patients, announcing their presence in the form of diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.

“Fats generally are the culprits,” Wong says, “so I want to make sure clients don’t have GI problems. If they do, I adjust their diet accordingly.”

The non-starchy veggies on half the plate include salads, asparagus, beets, mushrooms, broccoli, cucumber, and spinach. Denser carbs that make up a smaller part of the plate include beans, lentils, peas, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, bread, pasta, and corn. Red meat, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts and nut butters round out the plate with protein. On colder days, some people prefer to have vegetable soup, as a way of incorporating those all-important vegetables into their diet.

For breakfast, Wong recommends such items as cereal with nuts and fiber, such as flaxseed meal, or by adding some bran. Regardless of which meal, we all still need the foundation of “macronutrients” – carbs, protein, grains, and healthy fats – to help build a strong immune system. And taking a lot of supplements is no substitute for a balanced diet.

Neither is processed food. Wong insists that the nutrients that have often been removed, limited, or destroyed in food processing are essential for all of us.

Click to watch the tasty video 

In the Coachella Valley… “throw a ro …

That’s how clients of Desert AIDS Project describe the prevalence of crystal methamphetamine –commonly referred to as meth, crystal, Tina, ice, or glass, among other street names – in the Coachella Valley. Just as crystal meth has become a social problem on a global scale, our clients insist it plagues many of the people D.A.P. seek to provide medical care and social services.

Ray Robertson, Client Wellness Services Center Manager, knows this all too well. He was already a certified recovery counselor with about 20 years of experience leading a local, residential treatment facility before coming to D.A.P. more than five years ago. Having earned 29 years of sobriety himself, Ray sensed that addiction is an issue among many of our patients and clients living with HIV, who need a way back to a safer, saner life.

So he established the “Crystal Meth Action Team,” which held its first meeting this summer. Ray knew that D.A.P. had previously organized the “Crystal Meth Task Force” some years ago, to take on its use valley-wide. However, the task force dissolved in part because its mission was too broad and because it actually scared off some of the people it wanted to attract. When people encountered the Crystal Meth Task Force at the popular Thursday evening street fair in downtown Palm Springs, they thought they were being targeted by the police.

“We’re not going to ferret out users and bring them to judgment day,” Ray told team members at an initial brainstorming session. “What we’re going to be doing is opening doors to recovery.”

The Action Team’s primary goal is to develop strategies for creating a compassionate, nonjudgmental space where clients will feel welcomed and safe in sharing. No matter whether they use crystal meth themselves or have someone in their life who does, the Action Team members want to see that clients receive the help they ask for … whether that is simply more information, a chance to talk with someone who understands, or to actively engage in care. At the first gathering, members shared their experiences with meth and other substance use. Some are in recovery while others haven’t “used” but have watched friends and loved ones wrestle with substance abuse challenges.

Team members also discussed why they joined and what they believe should be done for those in the grips of this powerful habit. Many spoke from experience:

“I got HIV from sharing a needle I used to shoot crystal.”

“When you’re ‘slamming’ meth, it takes over and you forget everything else.”

“When you use meth, there are three possible endings: dead, in jail, or in recovery.”

Be they former drug abusers or “normies,” who’ve never used, team members agreed that users must be offered an avenue to recovery that’s safe, humane, and free from judgment or stigma. During the first meeting of the Crystal Meth Action Team, Ray diagrammed this concept for how recovery might begin to happen:

“Let’s open a corridor to doors – and behind each door is yet another recovery option.
Let’s make it comfortable for anyone to open those doors without fear of repercussions.”

The diagram resembled a pathway leading north with several roads intersecting it along the way. Ray labeled each of those connectors as team members suggested services: a helpline; education, outreach, and mentoring; referrals to 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous; safe social connections; strategies to break the connection between sex and meth; housing options during recovery; and literature describing meth’s effect on the body, particularly when HIV-positive. Several team members were enthusiastic about the books “Chasing the Scream” and “Overcoming Crystal Meth Addiction,” the latter showing what the drug does to brain chemistry and physiology.

Team members are, understandably, concerned because of the unfortunately all-too-common link between meth and HIV. The New England Journal of Medicine calls meth an extremely strong stimulant that provides an escape from stress, depression, alienation, and loneliness. It increases sexual arousal while reducing inhibition and judgment. The drug often crosses paths with people who are under tremendous emotional duress because of their illness. Throw in homophobia and stigma attached to HIV, and you have a perfect storm touching down in the Coachella Valley.

Medical trials suggest that people living with HIV who are also using meth often have lapses in their antiretroviral treatment, which might make their infection drug resistant. It can also rearrange the brain chemistry causing psychosis and depression so that users cannot feel good without pharmaceutical help. “People struggling with addiction are in emotional pain and the remedy they turn to is as harmful as it is habit-forming,” Ray says. “As holistic healthcare providers, we want to address all parts of what is causing pain for our clients and patients, helping them back to full and healthy lives.”

Stress relief through Transcendental Med …

It was at about the 12-mile mark of David Brinkman’s daily 17-mile run when the stress began to dissipate and the clarity necessary to run a “Top 20 HIV/AIDS Charity” like D.A.P. began to return.

But when a severe back injury put an end to the “extreme exercise” that supplied the dose of endorphins necessary to calm his mind, he needed a new stress reduction regimen. He chose Transcendental Meditation – more commonly known as TM – which has been learned by more than six million people of all ages, cultures, and religions.

David, who has been meditating for about five years, says, “Meditation is a way to access your own intuition by cutting through negative emotions that sometimes cloud our judgment,” David says. “For me, it’s a way to reconfirm that what I’m contemplating is not about ego, anxiety, or fear. What I choose to contemplate and what drives all of us at D.A.P. – staff and board – is serving humanity, right here in our own backyards. For me, when I can access that, everything falls into place.”

When he introduced TM to D.A.P. during the winter All-Staff Meeting, David told employees that meditation aligns with Building Connections, D.A.P.’s organizational philosophy of “connecting the best in me with the best in others.” It’s D.A.P.’s way of encouraging all employees to be ever-present and judgment-free in their daily interactions … with each other, with clients and patients, with volunteers, with donors … with everyone.

Twenty-eight D.A.P. employees jumped at the chance to learn TM. In fact, there was more demand than we could initially accommodate. David hopes to make the training to available to more staff – and to clients.

That’s because TM is particularly useful in an AIDS service environment according to the David Lynch Foundation, whose mission is to heal traumatic stress and raise performance in at-risk populations. Their target audiences for the benefits of TM are diverse, including school children, military veterans with PTSD, the homeless … and those living with HIV.

Dennis Rowe, director of Transcendental Meditation Palm Springs and certified teacher, says “Transcendental Meditation is a simple and natural process that allows participants to experience a peaceful silence deep within the mind. They sit quietly with their eyes closed and use a mantra that allows the mind to settle down into a peaceful, relaxed state. During that time, serotonin, the chemical that maintains mood balance, increases. At the same time, cortisol, a stress hormone, decreases while blood vessels expand. As you meditate, you just experience deep rest.”

San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Clinical Services Director Jeffrey M. Leiphart, PhD, uses TM with their clients and says “As stress rises, the immune system, which is already is under attack by the HIV in a person’s system, falters. Anything the HIV-infected person can do to interrupt that and provide a sense of relaxation and safety will be immune-enhancing. TM is a great example of that.” Norma, one of their clients, says “TM has helped me tremendously – not just in releasing stress but also increasing my number of T cells. And lowering my blood pressure to the point I no longer need medication.”

TM works by changing the blood flow to the brain, an effective way to manage anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and cognitive ability, many peer-reviewed studies show. This becomes a potent medicine to reduce cholesterol, congestive heart failure, stroke, metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes, and pain. Meditation also unlocks potential for intelligence, creativity, and learning.

David says “For me, it’s simple … when you find an effortless way to reduce stress, you have an important tool for dealing with the stress of modern-day life. I hope D.A.P. can bring that to our clients.”

Housing is an essential therapy for peop …

“From the time they come in and say ‘I’m homeless,’ to the time they say, ‘I got the apartment!’ it’s so great,” beams Nichelle Austin, Housing Case Manager for Desert AIDS Project. “You see them a month later and they look so different because they’re able to say ‘I’ve got a house. I can sleep tonight.’ ”

Nichelle knows that providing housing is essential therapy for people living with HIV and AIDS, who are facing homelessness or already living on the streets. She’s seen it work many times. So has Housing Coordinator Monica Aitchison.

“When a client gets housing and can sustain it, his health improves,” Monica observes. “At first, his health is fragile. Then he gets better. He’s not so isolated. He’s more approachable. You can see the difference.”

That’s why D.A.P. includes 81 studio and one-bedroom apartments at the Vista Sunrise complex in the compassionate, comprehensive care package available to clients. Located next to our campus at Vista Chino and Sunrise Avenue, Vista Sunrise is just one of several ways we support clients in need of housing.

Follow the winding path through Vista Sunrise and you’ll see a cluster of two-story buildings with Spanish stucco facades in the hues of a Mojave sunset. The apartments are unfurnished and airy at about 352 square feet for studios and 534 for one bedrooms.  There is a full kitchen and bath in each unit with outdoor patios. And the grounds include a dog park and a pool. Residents can decorate their patio areas to suit their own tastes just as they do inside their homes.

Gina Hooten, Vista Sunrise’s property manager, points out that potential residents must be diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. Applicants also have to undergo credit and criminal background checks. They must have a source of income, usually Social Security. Rent is based on a sliding scale of 30%-60%-of-income. This gets them into a space whose market value ranges from $650 to $700 a month for studios and $700 to $800 a month for a one-bedroom.

Our housing specialists say the need is growing. Perhaps it’s the economy or the fact that people move here because of the weather, the lower cost of living and availability of resources.  Whatever the reason, Vista Sunrise has a growing waiting list of six to eight months for one-bedrooms and 12 to 18 months for studios.

Your donations and support can mean a world of difference for someone who doesn’t know where they’ll be sleeping tonight. You can donate, volunteer, or help fundraise any time of the year to make sure there’s one less person on the streets.

Positive Examples: The HIV Story Project

Last World AIDS Day, Desert AIDS Project was lucky enough to host the film Still Around: 30 years of AIDS, 15 stories of hope for attendees. The film showcased short films by, for, and about people living with HIV/ AIDS to mark the 30th anniversary of the first report of AIDS in the country. One of these short works was directed by D.A.P. volunteer Daniel Cardone, who became involved in the film through the nonprofit, The HIV Story Project.

The HIV Story Project aims to share stories of HIV-positive lives through multiple media platforms, including web, film, public installations, and trainings. Based in San Francisco, the HIV Story Project will be one of many HIV/AIDS organizations across the country to gather at the upcoming 19th Annual International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

Supported with a $1000 donation from D.A.P., the HIV Story Project will present the Generations HIV storytelling booth inside the Global Village at the IAC, giving attendees a chance to record questions, answers, and unheard stories as a sort of new media AIDS quilt. D.A.P. is proud to support the efforts of organizations like the HIV Story Project in spreading the messages of hope, raw emotion, resilience, and strength from people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

This piece was featured in the Summer 2012 Progress Report. Read the entire thing here.

Download the free HIV testing anthem her …

“‘The Power to Be Strong’ song and music video campaign has been created to reach millions of people around the world about the importance of voluntary HIV counseling & testing and increased adherence to safer sex, and to empower the valiant efforts of any organization or individual participating anywhere in the battle against HIV/AIDS. As a person living powerfully with HIV, I am honored to share my experience, strength, hope, and song in support of the care, prevention, and advocacy services of Desert AIDS Project. Get tested and live longer and be strong!” — Nicholas Snow, Singer/Songwriter

Right-click and save to download “The Power to Be Strong”

Watch the video here. View and share in over 20 languages on Facebook and YouTube!

About Nicholas Snow