The lights are on late most Thursday and Friday nights, and you often hear the laughter of guys inside having a great time. How many times have you walked or driven by, assuming that this agency on Wilton Drive was only for other people? Latinos Salud is not only for Latinos
The lights are on late most Thursday and Friday nights, and you often hear the laughter of guys inside having a great time. How many times have you walked or driven by, assuming that this agency on Wilton Drive was only for other people? In a Summer survey of 560 local gay men, Latinos Salud learned that many local guys thought the agency serves only young guys, while others believed it services excluded anyone who is not Latino.
The survey results kicked off a new effort by the agency to make sure that no one walks by who could benefit from the agency’s free services. In a full re-branding, this week Latinos Salud unveiled a new logo, launched a new website, and announced new services. Still focusing on their main mission– helping Latino guys in the community–the agency also offers something for virtually everyone who mingles with gay Latinos in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area.
“Some of our programs and services are conducted in Spanish, or Spanglish,” explained Executive Director, Stephen Fallon, PhD. “All of our staff, though, are bi-lingual, and we have added several exciting new programs that are not only for Latinos.” Rafaelé Narváez, Director of Health Programs, added “We have programs for anyone living with HIV, any partner of an HIV+ Latino guy, and anyone who identifies as transgender. And, of course, we provide free HIV rapid testing to everyone in the community, six days a week.” Narváez noted that currently about one-in-five of the agency’s participants are not Latino.
Are you still too shy to peek inside? You can click through a simple tool on the agency’s updated website LatinosSalud.org to find which program fits for you, and can contact the right staff member directly from the webpage with any questions before your visit. If you do stop in, you’ll find the friendly staff makes you feel like family right away.
Johnathan Medina, Counseling Services Coordinator summed up the newest programs. “We added JUNTOS Leadership Development in 2010, two types of Life Coaching in 2011, and HIV rapid testing and outreach partnerships with most of the local clubs and gay guesthouses in 2012. There’s something for all ages.”
Late last year, Latinos Salud also added a pilot linkage program for people living with HIV. Some clients had mistakenly thought that they needed to prove citizenship to gain access to Ryan White services. This month, Fallon announced, the agency received vital funding from The SMART Ride’s 10% Lifeline, so it can grow the program, and help more local HIV+ men get access to free medical care and support services.
Latinos Salud was also selected as one of just three agencies in the nation to research how gay men of color interpret messages about HIV prevention. Working with the global health entity JSI, based in Boston, Latinos Salud has been helping the CDC to craft messages that may resonate with Latino gay and bisexual men. In about a month, local Latino guys who are willing to confidentially provide their personal history, and click through sample HIV prevention messages from the CDC, will receive a generous gift card for their feedback, which in turn will help empower their community.
So don’t walk by that familiar building next time you pass down Wilton Drive. Stop in, and see what’s going on at the updated Latinos Salud! The agency is located across from The Manor Complex, and is open Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and don’t forget to check out their new website at LatinosSalud.org