Lifelong is still on the Hill, and they want everyone to know about it.
The 30-year-old organization has moved around the corner from its previous location into two floors of spacious offices right in the thick of Pike/Pine at 1016 E Pike.
“We’re serving people in a beautiful place that we hope that people look forward to coming to,” said Kelly Bray, communications manager for Lifelong. “We’re still here on the Hill.”
Seattle AIDS Walk and 5K Run
WHEN: Saturday, September 27, 2014 – 10:00 am @ 10:00 AM
WHERE: Volunteer Park, 1247 15th Avenue East
Walk with us on Saturday, September 27 at the Seattle AIDS Walk, a 5K march of support and remembrance through the streets of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Proceeds benefit Lifelong and partnering community service organizations.
Register or give online at seattleaidswalk.org
The decision for Lifelong to stay in Pike/Pine is also part of what many developers hope will be a trend of creating more opportunities for daytime workers to fill the neighborhood known for its nightlife and entertainment scene. Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn is about to unveil her office space and market project Chophouse Row this fall on 11th Ave. Other office space-centered projects are expected in coming years.
The group, which used to be known as Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and before that as the Northwest AIDS Foundation, had outgrown the old space, which had served as its home for more than 25 years.
In May, CHS reported that the Bright Horizons day care chain was making plans to open a center and take over the former Lifelong space in a $1.7 million overhaul that will include a “Movement Matters Zone with Rock Climbing Wall,” art studio, and playgrounds.
Bright Horizons is a CHS advertiser while CHS is a community sponsor of the annual Lifelong AIDS Walk and 5K.
Bray said Lifelong has expanded its focus in recent years, reaching out to assist people with other chronic diseases, hence dropping “AIDS Alliance” from their name.
Bray said Lifelong has split the dual aspects of its mission into two different physical locations. The counseling center is located on Pike. The group’s food prep arm (the Chicken Soup Brigade) has moved preparation to Georgetown. The group’s thrift store, by the way, can still be found at 1017 E Union.
The move and expansion for Lifelong is being powered in part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Meanwhile, the Out of the Closet thrift shop and HIV/AIDS center will join Lifelong on E Pike.
Bray said that Lifelong’s food distribution will continue to take place in the old location (1002 E Seneca), so clients need not figure out how to get to Georgetown for their meals. But the new space in Georgetown should give them the added capacity to ramp up meal production and serve more people in the future, once sufficient funding is available.
Last year, Bray said LIfelong distributed 149,872 meals and 36,330 bags of groceries.
The meals, she noted, are considered “medically appropriate” which can mean a very particular diet for someone with a compromised immune system. Generally, it’s the sort of low-sodium, low-fat, high-fiber diet that the doctors say we should all be eating anyway.
“The food that we’re giving people is really good for them,” she said.
Between meals and counseling, they served 4,759 people 2013, Bray said.
For those in need of counseling, the Pike Street location is ready to help, Bray said.
Clients will even be greeted by some familiar faces, such as 14-year volunteer Jim Hunter. Hunter, one of 1,026 volunteers at Lifelong, started volunteering after first using their services as a client. He said when he needed it, he found help tracking down food, insurance, healthcare and counseling, and he wanted to give back.
“It makes me feel like I’m part of a huge family that does wonderful things for people with HIV and AIDS,” Hunter said. “I look forward to coming in every single week.”
Hunter said he’s been doing much better than he had when he first walked in the door, but he might still have a down day now and again.
“I know that when I do have my downs, I have a support system here.”
Bray said one of the main focuses is making sure that people get, and stay, on their medication. If they do that, it can often help reduce the chances for them to spread HIV to others. One study Bray cited said that people with HIV who have an undetectable viral load are 96 percent less likely to transmit it. The popular phrase, she said, is now “treatment as prevention.”
Beyond the meds, counselors can help people navigate the health insurance exchanges. Obamacare, she said, has made their jobs a bit easier, but it’s still not simple signing up clients who often face issues such as chemical dependence, homelessness and poverty.
One thing they could certainly use, said Bray, is more financial support from the community, which is one of the reasons they are sponsoring their 28th annual AIDS walk. This year’s walk starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 27 at Volunteer Park. There’s a new route this year, Bray said, but otherwise, the 5K continues its tradition of starting and ending at the park. Runners are asked to contribute $35, while walkers can join in for free. They encourage runners to ask friends and family to sponsor them, increasing their total donations.
Bray said this year’s goal is $350,000, a number they fell just shy of last year.