The Saturday CITIZEN explains the who, what and why...we will fill in the when and how shortly!
When one of our Royal family hurts, we all hurt, and we've now had two losses this week. 2015 Fantasy Fest Queen Joyrae Campbell lost her beloved husband Brian Belanger earlier this week. Our 2005 Fantasy Fest Duchess Gina Maserrati also lost his beloved wife Sandy, also known as Porsche Maseratti. A special education teacher for 30 years Sandy, with Gina, helped raise funds for many charities, including AH. We all hold loving thoughts for Jodyrae and Gina. ... See more
from Executive Director Scott Pridgen Friday, July 10 2020 YOU SHOULD KNOW… …that extraordinary circumstances dictate extraordinary workarounds, and that is why we at AH have decided to do something VERY DIFFERENT during what would be the typical Royal Campaign for FANTASY FEST. The impact of COVID-19 on the Keys for the last 6 months cannot be underestimated, especially in terms of rent and mortgages. Some forbearance programs and moratoriums on foreclosure have permitted payment delay; some landlords have been sensitive about collections; Governor DeSantis signed an executive order on April 2 suspending evictions in cases in which COVID-19 financial hardship prevented tenants from paying rent, which remains in place until August 1st. But new studies show that those able to make a payment is dropping and any new stay-at-home orders will be devastating. So, this year, no one will be crowned. For 2020, the ‘Community Wins’. You may have heard the Agency’s Event Planner, Nadene Grossman Orr of We’ve Got The Keys, talk about this today on Bill Becker’s US-1 Radio morning show. News will certainly filter outward fast and we want our intent to be very clear: when we say the ‘Community Wins’, we mean that our entire island chain will be regarded as Royalty…because we consider the Keys an array of Kings and Queens doing their noblest to keep their spirits up as they tend their own. Because the Keys have been hit especially hard we are, effective August 21st, embarking on a fundraiser to EXCLUSIVELY assist those with Housing needs. As I said: this year is unique, so we want this one-time initiative to be very specific to the times we’re in. That’s why, exclusively for 2020, we are casting the doors open for our annual 8-week fundraiser to 3 other non-profits who financially assist with our citizens facing Housing challenges. They are Samuel’s House, Florida Keys Outreach Coalition and The Sister Season Fund. They, plus us, will each receive 25% of the entire total amassed to use ONLY for our community’s unique housing challenges. Details are currently being finalized, but Nadene, our designer friends at Wonderdog Productions, our Marketing/PR staff and myself are gathering information and fine-tuning some intriguing possibilities. We’ve never done this before. However, the current circumstances of the world and on a smaller-scale, Monroe County, means we have to “think outside the box”, and any royal cape this year should rest squarely on the shoulders of our population in need of Housing help. To reap the success we hope for, we’ll need your help. If you have ideas or suggestions, please reach out to myself or Nadene ASAP at email@example.com. YOU SHOULD KNOW… … that we at AH closely align ourselves with safety recommendations. This is not just for us, but for health-compromised clients. Our front door bears prominent signage about our mandatory operational policy, and these guidelines adhere to what the Florida Department of Health strongly urges business to follow. These levels of protection ensures we’re well enough to safeguard your own wellness. So please: be patient and understanding if you visit 1434 Kennedy Drive…we do this for you. . YOU SHOULD KNOW… …that we also consider ourselves a collaborator with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, our Health Communication Specialist Jennifer Suarez, who works remotely from GA while administering our A.H. Health Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ahmonroecounty/ uses her fellowship at the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health to help us develop materials and content that is health related factsheets, infographics, health campaigns, and testing awareness resources specific to the Key West community. We’re able to access and use their video materials and, to a degree, brand our own Mission, so please check out the newest video on HIV-Testing, featuring a Miami-based testimonial, at https://www.facebook.com/AHofMonroe/videos/302851724242399/ YOU SHOULD KNOW… …that there are multiple days or even months throughout the year when government agencies, worldwide organizations or advocacy coalitions designate to publicize health issues for demographic-specific populations. One fairly new day is July 17th, HIV Prevention Day. Because venue closures and event cancellations (like the Key West PRIDE Street fair and now FANTASY FEST) have especially impacted our general Outreach, we remain concerned about our Prevention Message. An uptick in HIV-infection is NOT what we need in the LGBTQ population. So, next Friday, during our regular business hours, we are especially emphasizing our FREE HIV-test, which takes about 20 minutes, at our office. An appointment is still requested but not necessary for your private consultation with Randy Bickers, our Outreach Specialist. Remember that safer sex sex packets, with condoms and personal lubricant, are available in our lobby. They are FREE. Take as many as you need. YOU SHOULD KNOW… …that we got some good news this week. The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies, including the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Despite the endless “turf wars” between Democrats, Republican and the White House, $430 million has been allotted for Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA), an increase of $20 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $100 million above the President’s budget request. We were very worried: the preliminary 2021 Budget proposed funding the HOPWA program at $330 million. As the President of the National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC), I am always concerned that Housing, as the #1 unmet need of those living with HIV, could result in families losing their homes. A special acknowledgement to NAHC’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, Lauren Banks Killelea, who aggressively advocated for the House and Senate to ensure the HOPWA program remains intact. YOU SHOULD KNOW… …that when one of our Royal family hurts, we all hurt. 2015 Fantasy Fest Queen and beloved local songbird and fundraiser extraordinaire Jodyrae Campbell lost her beloved husband Brian Belanger earlier this week. A Key West resident for 35 years, Brian was a commercial shrimper and fisherman; as much as he loved the water, he was devoted to their dog FeeBee, taking her to the dog park or somewhere she could run during the pandemic. As Jodyrae tells, it, “he also loved the 801 Bar, his favorite bartender, and my King, Mark Watson, all the Queens and listening to me sing with Jeff Kucin’s Karaoke on Sunday afternoons.” Brian will be missed, and we all hold loving thoughts for Jodyrae. ... See more