AIDS Walk Orlando 2016 raises $92,000 as Hope and Help leaders announce big changes

By : Jamie Hyman
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AIDS Walk Orlando 2016

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More than 1,000 walkers braved gray skies to follow the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – the walk’s traditional leader – on a stroll around Lake Eola for the 21st annual AIDS Walk Orlando, Hope and Help’s second largest annual fundraiser. Hope and Help’s mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action against HIV/AIDS. On April 16, walkers supported this mission through fundraising and supported their friends by donning shirts where they’d written the names of loved ones for whom they walked.

As of April 18, the AIDS Walk raised $92,000 and money was still coming in, according to Russell Walker, Hope and Help’s community development director. Last year’s event raised $121,000. Walker says not only are they still collecting donations, but the corporate matching grants will take five or six weeks to come in.

“The weather stayed good, which was nice, and there were no hassles,” Walker says. “It was maybe a little quieter at the start, but when the walk started, it didn’t seem any quieter than previous years. I was happy with the turnout.”

Hope & Help LOGO

In addition to the walk itself, Hope and Help leveraged the event to make several major announcements. They unveiled a new logo, designed by graphic designer Drew Sizemore, and as part of the rebranding, announced they would be streamlining the name of the organization. What was previously Hope and Help of Central Florida Inc. will now be known simply as Hope & Help.

Walker says since the organization’s birth in 1988, they’ve only had two logos. He says the new logo carries over the old logo’s colors, nods to the iconic red AIDS ribbon with the ampersand and emphasizes the word “Help,” to highlight the organization’s growing and diversifying services. The reaction to the new look has been “very positive so far, which is nice,” Walker says.

Bob Adams, president of Hope and Help’s Board of Directors, announced at the AIDS Walk that the organization is looking for new headquarters. They’re working with realtor Eric Rollings to secure a 10,000 – 15,000 square foot facility to house all of Hope and Help’s services under one roof. Hope and Help’s new home would have to be close to transportation and located in an area that complies with the city’s zoning laws.

The organization is currently housed in Winter Park. A downtown Orlando office is now closed, but Walker says they have staff members working out of a few remote locations and the staff members in the main office are crowded, with eight case managers sharing a conference room and former offices converted into intake rooms.

“We’re all sitting on top of each other right now,” Walker says. “[Hope and Help has] grown a lot and very quickly, which is a great thing.”

He says the food pantry – in partnership with Publix and Fresh Market – is especially popular, and in the past six to eight weeks, tripled in number of clients using it, but it “takes a lot of space.”

“We are expanding our food pantry, added Hepatitis C and Syphilis testing as part of our rapid testing program, we’ve added and expanded our support and counseling groups, and have successfully partnered with our community allies at Two Spirit to launch the first and only low cost PrEP Clinic in Central Florida,” Adams says in a media release.

Walker says the crowded quarters are manageable for now, but on a short term basis, as their ultimate goal is to make it “comfortable and inviting” for the clients they serve. There are also privacy concerns, he says, so the extra space is much needed.

Photos by Brian Becnel.


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