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SAAF plans AIDS Awareness Week
QSanAntonio.com, October 15, 2011

Organizers at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation are launching a new effort to expand HIV/AIDS awareness beyond the annual one-day observance marked by World AIDS Day on December 1. Through AIDS Awareness Week groups and agencies have the flexibility to present more projects and events during the week rather than have them limited to one day.

“We initiated AIDS Awareness Week to extend service to the community,” says SAAF’s Executive Director, David Ewell. “Our resource website allows the public to learn about projects, programs and events that are happening during the week of World AIDS Day.”

“By virtue of our name the public, understandably, assumes we know about all related events in the city, but we simply don’t," says Ewell. "By developing this website the community can find out about what’s happening in their area but we need submissions in order to make the project effective.”

Local agencies, schools, organizations, and friends are being invited to take part in AIDS Awareness Week, November 27-December 3, 2011. SAAF is encouraging these groups to submit events that would take place on the same week and list them on the AIDS Awareness Week web site (SAAIDSWeek.org).

"There are many people in San Antonio who have been touched by HIV/AIDS," says Ewell. "This week-long observance will give us all more time and opportunity to recognize the impact that this disease has on our community."

For questions and more information about AIDS Awareness Week contact Regina Villalobos via email at regina@txsaaf.org.

Walk for Life raises $56,000
QSanAntonio.com, September 19, 2011

The San Antonio AIDS Foundation Walk for Life took over Woodlawn Lake Park on September 17 with hundreds of participants who, along with corporates sponsors, helped the agency raise almost $56,000 at the event.

Special guests at the event were Karen Martinez and Ted Garcia of KABB FOX 29. Crystal Stone served as DJ and emcee. Also on hand were Congressman Lloyd Doggett and County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson.

Entertainment included singer songwriter Mallorie Herrera who performed on of her original songs along with two backup dancers. The band Elvis Cantu and the Baby Moons played their own brand of rock.

The Alamo City Men's Chorale sang the National Anthem and Rev. Mick Hinson of the Metropolitan Community Church gave the invocation.

Prizes were given to teams and individuals who raised the most money. In the individual category the winners were: 1) Crystal Stone, 2) Rick Ramos and 3) Miguel Sepulveda.
The Team awards went to: 1) Super Friends, who wore blue capes with red ribbons, 2) Team Bomba in red tees, and 3) Team Wells Fargo also in red and lead by a huge company flag waving in the wind.

One of the largest teams was for Citi bank which was also the Presenting Sponsor for the walk. Norman L. Wright, who is Executive Vice President and Director of Citibank Client Services, had the honor of cutting the ribbon to start the walk around Woodlawn Lake. The walkers were led by residents of SAAF House, some of who were in wheel chairs.

Click here for more photos.

Screening of AIDS documentary to mark SAAF's 25th anniversary
QSanAntonio.com, July 23, 2011

The San Antonio AIDS Foundation is sponsoring the local premiere of the documentary, "We Were Here," to mark the agency's 25th anniversary. The film, an official selection at this year's Sundance Film Festival, takes a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco 30 years ago.

The SAAF screening of co-directors David Weissman and Bill Weber's "We Were Here" in San Antonio on August 25 comes ahead of its commercial run which begins in New York on September 9 and Los Angeles on September 16.

"We hope the public will join us as SAAF marks 25 years as a resource to the community and a haven for those in need of care and advocacy," said David Ewell, SAAF's Executive Director. Ewell added that SAAF hopes to generate renewed awareness of the AIDS pandemic, the beginning of which is documented in "We Were Here."

A "gay plague" emerges

When AIDS emerged in San Francisco in the early 1980s, it brought with it broad political and social upheavals. "We Were Here" opens a window of understanding to those who may only have the vaguest notion of what transpired in those years. Early in the epidemic, San Francisco's compassionate, multifaceted, and creative response to AIDS became known as The San Francisco Model.

In its suffering, San Francisco mirrors the experience of so many American cities during those years. The city's activist and progressive infrastructure combined with San Francisco's highly politicized gay community helped overcome obstacles of a nation both homophobic and lacking in universal health care.

AIDS comes to San Antonio

Twenty-five years ago, at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in San Antonio, when no one wanted to treat the infected, Robert "Papa Bear" Edwards started the San Antonio AIDS Foundation to help care for local gay men who were sick and dying.

Edwards, who owned a gay bar, rented a small house off Austin Highway where he cared for the Foundation’s clients. Volunteers, doctors and nurses donated their expertise, time and money to help those initial patients.

When the epidemic continued unabated and the house off Austin Highway became too small to accommodate the many clients who sought help, Edwards rented a small office building located behind his bar on Broadway and converted it into a hospice facility.

In 1990, SAAF purchased it's building on Grayson Street. Edwards says he climbed in a broken window and walked around inside the then-dilapidated structure. "I could see beyond the mess," he says, "I knew it was be perfect for our needs." Today, the building on Grayson Street still serves as the San Antonio AIDS Foundation’s main office and is a legacy to Edwards’ stewardship.

Two years ago, SAAF purchased another building, dubbed Carson House, where it offers transitional housing for its clients.

"As we mark our 25th anniversary SAAF has evolved from a seven-client organization to an agency helping thousands of individuals every year with healthcare, support services and prevention education outreach," says Ewell.

"We invite everyone to the screening of this important documentary that recalls the early days of AIDS and inspires us to continue helping those most affected by it."

San Antonio AIDS Foundation presents a screening of "We Are Here" on August 25, 2011 at the Alamo Drafthouse North. Event itinerary: 5:30 p.m. -- Mix and mingle with snacks and open bar; 6:00 p.m. -- Live performance of "They Call Me the AIDS Lady" by actor/playwright Anna de Luna; 6:45 p.m. -- Special guest speaker; 7:30 p.m. screening of "We Were Here." Tickets are $20 for the full event and $8 for the movie screening only. Click here for more information.

Contributions to SAAF help funding shortfalls
QSanAntonio.com, July 2, 2011

The San Antonio AIDS Foundation this week received three major donations: one from the Royal, Sovereign and Imperial Court of the Alamo Empire; another from Citi, the banking conglomerate that has a call center in San Antonio; and the largest from Cornyation San Antonio.

The gift from the Alamo Empire, which totaled $7,000, was raised during the organization's yearly Coronation. Jay Smith, Board President and Empress So Fonda St. John (Jason Cryer) presented the check to SAAF Executive Director David Ewell at a press conference on June 27.

The Alamo Empire is a volunteer organization "dedicated to to the betterment of the San Antonio community through direct assistance to any city non-profit agency that assists those living with life-threatening illnesses." Their primary focus is on individuals diagnosed with AIDS and HIV disease.

Citi's $5,000 contribution has been earmarked for SAAF's Transitional Housing Program.
"It is a privilege to count you as a true community partner in that we have been able to provide a company contribution, conduct business-site fundraising and education for our employees, provide leadership on your board of directors through [board member] Miguel Sepulveda, and supply further visible support through participation in the AIDS Walk," wrote Mark A. Nerio of Citi's Community Development department.

Later in the week, SAAF received a $40,000 donation from Cornyation San Antonio at a check presentation held at Hope Action Care on June 30.

"We are so grateful for such wonderful support from the community," said Ewell. "Every year fundraising becomes increasingly difficult. However the gifts we received this week will go a long way in helping us offer our clients the best care they can receive."

Photos by Antonia Padilla - Webb Party 2011 "Supernova"
QSanAntonio.com, April 13, 2011
Nearly 3,000 partygoers hit Sunset Station for the 20th annual Webb Party to benefit the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. Attendees were treated to plenty of food, fun and Fiesta spirit. Entertainment included a future fashion show by designer Agosto Cuellar, the Austin City Showgirls and the Houston Flyboys.

Photos -- Fashion show benefits SAAF
Photography by Antonia Padilla, QSanAntonio.com, December 3, 2010

The San Antonio International Academy of Design & Technology staged a fashion show featuring work by student designers on December 2 at the Hotel Contessa. The Threads for Hope Runway Show was a benefit for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation.

SAAF House mourns death of four residents in one week
QSanAntonio.com, November 13, 2010

On Wednesday, November 10, David Ewell, Executive Director of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation sent this note to his board of directors:

"Another resident passed last night. This is the fourth individual to die in seven days. Some were long timers and some shorter, but they were all loved dearly by the staff. Needless to say no one died alone. They all had someone by their side until the end."

The four who died at SAAF House this week, three men and a woman, were relatively young -- between the ages of 42 and 46 years old. Two had known of their HIV infection since 1992, the other two had learned of their infection only within the last five years.

At a time when many consider HIV infection to be a manageable condition, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation’s skilled nursing facility still sees its share of patients who do not survive the battle.

Last year 13 died at SAAF House representing 17 percent of 76 residents over the course of the year. In 2010, prior to the four deaths last week, only three deaths had occurred.

"We deal with death regularly. However, the four deaths in a week affected everyone at the facility," says Ewell. "There is an emotional connection for staff who are saddened by the loss residents who we consider friends. The four who died, David, Anthony, Mandy and Richard were a part of our family."

The three men came to the facility in recent months. Mandy had been a resident since 2005 and was a much beloved personality. As the only facility of its kind in South Texas, SAAF House was the final safety net for these individuals.

"This is truly very sad," said Dr. David Gude, a SAAF board member. "I extend appreciation to the nursing staff for their love, attention and care. Providing men and women with comfort, compassion and dignity in death is undervalued in our society, but something we each hope for ourselves when the time comes."

HRC to honor ‘Papa Bear’ founder of San Antonio AIDS Foundation
QSanAntonio.com, September 4, 2010

At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in San Antonio when no one wanted to treat the infected, Robert "Papa Bear" Edwards started the San Antonio AIDS Foundation to care for local gay men who were sick and dying. In the process he became a fervent advocate for people with AIDS who faced discrimination in housing, on the job and in the military. On October 23, the Human Rights Campaign will honor Edwards’ achievements at their annual Gala Dinner by bestowing upon him the Chuck Jordan Award.

Resident brings joyful touch to SAAF’s holiday decor
QSanAntonio.com, December 18, 2009

When the San Antonio AIDS Foundation decided to deck the halls for the holidays they got an unexpected surprise when a resident of their transitional housing facility stepped in with a series of witty and original designs.

Marco Conner (shown in photo), whose background includes some experience with retail display, created personalized office door displays for SAAF staffers that reflect their personalities.

The photos (above) are just a sample of some of Conner’s designs that include an apron with green and red dishes for a door to a kitchen storeroom (photo right, center row). Conner also created a blue Hanukah door (shown behind him in first photo) for SAAF Deputy Director Jill Rips who is Jewish.

SAAF’s Marketing and Events Director Wendy Scholl says Conner is also adept at floral design and table decor. "I gave Marco a few ribbons and some artificial flowers and he created a wonderful table design for a buffet we had for a staff luncheon," she says.

Conner has been living in SAAF’s Carson Street transitional housing facility for homeless clients with HIV/AIDS since November and has until January 18 to find a job and an apartment. He’s working with staff counselors to achieve that goal.

Conner is a SAAF client since 2002 and homeless for most of time before he came to the Carson Street facility. Despite being homeless, he has worked as a long-time volunteer for SAAF helping daily in the kitchen and wherever else his talents can be employed.

David Ewell, SAAF’s Executive Director, alerted QSanAntonio to Conner’s artistic talent. "It would be nice if someone who owns a business could see Marco’s designs and hire him. He’s extremely creative and a very hard worker."

Conner says that he lives day to day and is trying not to think too far past January 18. "I’m hopeful that something good will come my way. It’s all I can do."

San Antonio AIDS Foundation Carson Street Open House
QSanAntonio.com, September 26, 2009, Photos by Antonia Padilla