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article imageLas Vegas organization assists people living with HIV and AIDS

By Jeannie Stokowski-Bisanti     Jul 3, 2014 in Health
Golden Rainbow, located at 801 S. Rancho Drive Suite B-1, Las Vegas, Nevada is a nonprofit organization that helps people with HIV and AIDS with housing and financial assistance. Executive director Gary Costa is devoted to helping those with HIV or AIDS.
Golden Rainbow’s largest fundraiser of the year, Ribbon of Life, was held last month at the Penn and Teller Theater at Rio. The show features many entertainers from the Strip and is a good way to reach out to people who don’t hear about HIV and AIDS. This year's event was expected to raise about $200,000.
Gary's devotion began while working in retail as a regional manager at an arts and crafts store. In the 80s, his friend and worker became sick and he decided to help by looking for information at the San Diego AIDS Project. Costa said was taken in by the love and support by that organization.
He began volunteering by teaching safe sex and prevention classes for the LGBT community, and his volunteer efforts turned into job offers. Before his current role, Costa was the executive director of The LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif., which focused mainly on issues such as same- sex marriage and mental health services.
Those who receive assistance by Golden Rainbow are referred by a caseworker when they have an emergency need. Emergency needs may include medical expenses, utility bills or a rent check. Often, Golden Rainbow provides one-time support for those living with HIV or AIDS. Nowadays, online support can be found within online communities like PositiveSingles, an internet dating community helping singles with Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STDs since 2001.
For the most part, Golden Rainbow offers one-time help but there are some who qualify for monthly assistance, like low-cost housing. Receiving emergency aid can take as long as 30 days at other organizations. At Golden Rainbow it is a matter of hours and the money is given directly to the landlord or billing authority.
Golden Rainbow has 800 active clients. Scott Emerson, second vice chairman for Golden Rainbow’s board of directors, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the organization was looking to hire an executive for the next decade. He said that Costa fit because he has a business acumen, understands that a charity is a business and understands that money needs to be raised to provide services. Emerson added that Costa has experience with LGBT, HIV and AIDS, and professional fund-raising.
Since the epidemic began, Costa said there has been a shift in how HIV and AIDS are perceived. In the 1980s, Emerson said people now think of the HIV and AIDS epidemic as chronic rather than fatal, which forces the organization to adapt to the changing culture. This evolving culture can be difficult and, besides finances, personal issues like dating, for example, can be even harder.
In order to create new educational messages and let people know that HIV and AIDS are not over, Golden Rainbow has partnered with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, aka The Center and Aid for AIDS of Nevada, aka AFAN.
Their websites state that, The Center, “a community-based organization, supports and promotes activities directed at furthering the well-being, positive image, and human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, and queer community, its allies, and low to moderate income residents in Southern Nevada.”
AFAN “provides support and advocacy for adults and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada. AFAN works to reduce HIV infection through prevention education to eliminate fear, prejudice and the stigma associated with the disease.”
More about Las vegas, Nonprofit, nonprofits, HIV, Aids
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