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July 23, 2018

How Can a Community Garden Project Help People Who Are HIV Positive?

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Introducing Kenneth J. Mayer, President/CEO
April 7, 2016
AIDS Care Ocean State (ACOS)  announced the appointment of Kenneth J. Mayer as President and CEO, effective the beginning of April. He succeeds Paul Fitzgerald, who is retiring at the end of March 2016 after 27 years of service.

Mr. Mayer holds an MBA with a concentration in health care and his career spans 40 years in human services as a therapist, trainer and administrator. His professional focus includes basic human needs, substance abuse treatment, and hospice.

 In the early 1980s, during his work with hospice, he assisted people coping with HIV and AIDS. Ken has counseled people living with HIV, their caregivers and populations marginalized by society including people of color, IV drug users and their families.

As Ken believes, “People often require and deserve assistance that sees them as individuals, and services must help enhance human dignity with choice. There is power when people band together and bring issues to light, as they lobby government and health care providers to address and treat issues.”

Please join us in welcoming Kenneth J. Mayer to the ACOS team!

AIDS Care Ocean State provides comprehensive AIDS service, supportive housing, emergency funds, and a Speakers Bureau. Located at 18 Parkis Avenue, Providence. (401) 521-3603. Appointments: (401) 781-0665. aidscareos.org



AIDS care Ocean State help people deal with the physical and emotional issues around HIV, issues that are frequently magnified by poverty. While everyone can agree that medicine can help keep HIV in check, it might be surprising to know that hopelessness, uncertainty and feelings of isolation can be a barrier to living a healthy life for an HIV Positive person.

That’s why Livia Harkow started the Women’s Community Garden Project at our Tanner Street location in 2018. In fact, during a therapy group, a client asked if we could start a garden. Livia, a graduate of URI’s Master Gardener program, knew it was a good idea to engage clients. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that horticulture therapy can really improve the spirits of HIV positive, low income people.

How? It’s an excellent way to talk about nutrition and self-care, and creates a feeling of community and purpose; all of which generates positive emotions, self-esteem and a meaningful appreciation of life. It nurtures the idea that a woman’s body is her own, a feeling that may be new to our clients. In practical terms, it leads to people more actively interested in taking their medicine and going to group therapy. Plus, they are eating healthier, learning life skills, and being a part of something larger.

Thanks to the partnership of some generous donors, including the South Side Community Land Trust and Earth Appliance, our clients have planted a garden of to be proud of. These dedicated women in our group therapy take pride in the beautiful and blooming organic garden they created, where herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and squash thrive in the sunlight.

Inclusion is a big part of the program. Garden beds were created to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so that people with physical limitations could also participate. An ACOS youth group has been invited to participate and Livia would like to expand the program to other ACOS Housing, such as New Transitions, Sunrise House and Austin Place.

Now, the program practically takes care of itself. The Community Gardening Project for Women continues to meet twice weekly using horticultural therapy principles. This wonderful program helps our clients combat isolation and give a sense of community to all who participate.

Would you like to help our clients live, happier, healthier lives by supporting programs like this one? Click here to donate to AIDS CareOcean State!