December 31, 2011
Regarding: Year in review & sneak-peak at 2012
Twenty-eleven has proven itself to be a remarkable year of progress for the gay-rights movement. The headlines have read: gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, anti-bullying initiatives take shape in the wake of youth suicides, and marriage equality becomes law in New York State.
Other major achievements receiving less press with a direct impact on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) health include the March 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) entitled, The Health of LGBT People: Building a foundation for better understanding, which highlighted the absence of research data on LGBT health. This report inspired action by both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Joint Commission. Thus in the coming year, the National Health Survey will collect data for the first time on sexual orientation and soon gender identity and expression. Following suit, the Commission released a road map for hospitals in 2011 entitled Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community.
These achievements have set the stage for what can be a remarkable decade ahead for LGBT individuals and families across the nation and right here in New York State. But with any progress, persistence remains vital. In order to avoid losing precious momentum the LGBT community, allies and leaders must remain diligent and united to ensure our rightful place at the American table.
As such, the responsibility of RAI is to ensure the LGBT community here in the Capital Region is connected to and benefits from the progress made on both the national and state level specific to LGBT health and wellness. With that said, it is with great pride that we share with you the accomplishments and ongoing efforts the dedicated cast of volunteers has achieved on behalf of RAI in 2011.
Twenty-eleven has provided an opportunity for RAI to further define and develop the structure of the organization as we prepare to celebrate our ninth anniversary in April, 2012. Historically, RAI has primarily existed to provide cultural competency trainings and materials for consumers and providers specific to LGBT health and wellness. Although this remains a core component of the work of RAI, our breadth of outreach is more fully defined as advocacy, education, research and service. As a grass-root charitable organization with no paid staff and an annual budget currently dependent on fundraised dollars, our future will be defined by our ability to secure grant funding and enhance the professional development of the four key areas noted above.
The Board of Directors responsible for the oversight and operation of RAI has remained solid in 2011 with some changes in leadership and the exit and entrance of board members. This past year we extended our sincerest gratitude to those stepping down from the board for their dedication and service including Alfredo Rivera, Atreyu Luna, Jennifer Storm, and Rachel Breidster. We also welcomed with great excitement and anticipation the addition of Kiera Griffiths, Steve Hendrickson, Jeani Minick and Alejandro Taylor to the board.
RAI remains dedicated to our membership and participation within the National Coalition for LGBT Health and the NYS LGBT Health and Human Service Network. In March, 2011 as a member of the Network Health Committee RAI was a proud participant in the first annual LGBT Health Month kick-off event held at the NYS Capital which included a press conference and the presentation of a NYS Senate Resolution in support of LGBT Health Month in NYS. New York State is the only state in the nation to have an entire month dedicated to LGBT Health, and we welcome your participation in NYS LGBT Health Month, 2012 (Taking PRIDE in our Health).
On the national level, RAI participated in the annual meeting of the National Coalition for LGBT in Washington, D.C. We were also delighted to be listed within the index of the above noted Joint Commission roadmap after sharing resources and information with a key contact responsible for the development of that publication.
Locally this past fall, RAI kick-started its push for LGBT healthcare equity through outreach to major medical institutions in the capital district including Albany Medical Center, Ellis Medicine, Saratoga Hospital and St. Peter’s Health Partners. Utilizing our budding relationship with the Human Rights Campaign – Healthcare Equality Index (HRC-HEI) team – RAI has made inroads with the above noted medical centers in an effort to increase local participation in the HEI. As such, we will continue this work and include the community in our efforts through our annual Motorcycle Ride for Healthcare Equality to occur in June, 2012.
In March, 2011, we hosted our first annual LGBTQ Health and Wellness Expo at the Crowne Plaza in Albany, NY. This event had over 60 participants and included presentations and experiential breakouts for the mind, body and spirit. Twenty-twelve will usher in our 2nd annual LGBTQ Health and Wellness Expo to be held on March 3rd. This expo will focus on the Art of Health: How the Arts Inspire Health and Wellness in our Community. For more information please visit RAI-Health.org and check out the Art of Health event information & update tabs.
RAI worked closely with Dr. Ralph Liporace in 2011 to update our LGBT healthcare cultural competency tools which will be available and more fully utilized in 2012. This new set of instructional tools will serve to educate providers and healthcare organizations in the capital district. Topics will range from LGBT healthcare 101 practices to creating a more welcoming LGBT environment at healthcare facilities.
As the board President for RAI, I also had the opportunity to present at the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) annual conference and the National Coalition for LGBT Health annual meeting in 2011. In Atlanta, the GLMA conference provided an opportunity to present on Grass-Root LGBT Medical Clinic Development. Utilizing the experiences and data from our local clinic development work, the opportunity proved fruitful in developing relationships with leaders in LGBT health. The National Coalition panel presentation focused on LGBT cultural competency, and our contribution included highlights from the “My LGBTQ Healthcare Story Matters” project we implemented in the summer of 2011.
In 2011, RAI built upon the data collected from LGBTQ community members in 2010. Utilizing this data, we continued our ongoing exploration and collaboration with local organizations to identify and develop LGBT healthcare in the capital region. In 2011, The Capital District LGBTQ Medical Clinic Coalition, developed and led by RAI, welcomed the AIDS Council of NENY, Upper-Hudson Planned Parenthood and the Albany Damien Center. RAI facilitated bi-annual meetings of the informal coalition to review data from the community regarding the utilization and need for an LGBT medical clinic in the capital district. In the year ahead we will likely see a shift in focus from a brick-mortar LGBT clinic development to a network of LGBT healthcare services to better meet the needs of our community. For more information visit Facebook @ LGBTQ Medical Clinic – Capital District NY.
RAI remains committed to identifying opportunities to engage and serve LGBT individuals, families and the community at large. This past February RAI moved into its first ever office space located on Union Street in Schenectady, NY. This move has made RAI more accessible with weekly office hours and available meeting space.
Continuing our ongoing relationship with the Trevor Project, RAI remains the local coordinator for Lifeguard Workshops and the training of volunteers as we strive to extinguish suicide among LGBTQ youth who are four-times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight-peers. As such, we trained over a half-dozen new Lifeguard Workshop facilitators, promoted the Trevor Project at local events and through available media, and offered workshops for area youth.
Specific to healthcare, RAI was proud to launch the My LGBTQ Healthcare Story Matters project this past year. We began to collect healthcare stories on video from LGBTQ healthcare consumers who choose to share stories important to them. Now available online at http://www.RAI-Health.org, these stories (growing in number) serve our community through empowerment and education.
In 2011, RAI maintained a strong presence online and through social networking. RAI’s homepage found at RainbowAccess.org experienced minor changes in format and remains a place where visitors can review and subscribe to the RAI monthly newsletter which is developed by Andy Little (Board Treasurer and webmaster extraordinaire). Facebook remained an important tool in 2011 where friends and visitors continue to review ongoing events and updates related to our work. New in 2011, RAI has expanded into the blogging world with a site at RAI-Health.org where you can find news posts related to LGBT health from local and national resources.
RAI was an active participate at the June, 2011 Pride festivities. We tabled at the In Our Own Voices – Black and Latino Gay Pride event and at Capital Pride, hosted by the Pride Center of the Capital Region. Connecting with other local, state-wide and national LGBT specific and inclusive organizations remains key as we work together to meet the needs of our community. In the new year, this commitment remains true and will usher in RAI’s participation on the NYS Network Council as Board Vice President, Kiera Griffiths takes on new leadership responsibilities.
Other 2011 noteworthy items…
Comedy for a Cause fundraiser held at the Albany Comedy Works in July with the one and only Sandy Beach. A local lesbian comic scheduled to headline our January 2012 Beach Party at Rocks and the Live Variety Show on March 3rd as part of the Art of Health festivities.
In November, RAI hosted an LGBT roundtable with Dr. Henry Ng at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood as part of our LGBT medical clinic development work. Dr. Ng is President-elect of the GLMA and Clinical Director of the Pride Clinic, Cleveland’s only LGBT medical home.
RAI board members made multiple appearances on the WRPI (91.5) Homo Radio program in 2011 as we promoted various projects and events. In 2012, we will be delighted to present the cast and crew of Homo Radio with the Bobbi Williams Access Award for their years of service and commitment to the LGBT community through the art of broadcasting.
In October, RAI brought the community together for a night of food, entertainment and cheer. In collaboration with GayAlbanyOnline.com, over 40 friends came together for dinner and drinks at Ambition and the smash Broadway hit, La Cage at Proctors in Schenectady.
RAI was proud to partner with the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Project affiliated with SUNY Albany’s School of Social Welfare for a series of LGBT trainings offered in 2011. This March, 2012 RAI will again partner with SOGI and partners to bring the award winning film Gen Silent to Albany as we come together to discuss emerging issues for LGBT seniors.
On behalf of the board of directors and volunteers, thank you for your ongoing attention and support. Twenty-eleven was filled with many accomplishments and the starting point of many new beginnings. We ask for your continued support in the year ahead as we face new challenges and strive to achieve our mission.
With warm regards, Chad Putman, LMSW / Board President
Board of Directors
Kiera Griffiths – Vice President / Andy Little – Treasurer / Jenna Zirbel – Secretary
Katie Moskal / Steve Hendrickson / Jeani Minick / Alejandro Taylor
Our Mission is to ensure comprehensive physical and mental health care and human services are available to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and their families in the Capital District of New York.