7 ways you can help the Latinx community in Birmingham

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Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition
The Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition. Photo via ALAC’s Facebook page

If you’ve ever wondered how you can make life better for our Latinx neighbors here in Birmingham, you need to meet Jean Hernandez, AIDS Alabama’s Latinx Outreach Coordinator and head of the Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition. She and her team are on a mission, and they can use your help. Keep reading to find out how to get involved, or visit AIDS Alabama to learn more.

1. Get involved with The Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition

ALAC
Logo via ALAC’s Facebook page.

When Jean Hernandez first began working with AIDS Alabama, she just showed up. By attending meetings and listening to what people were talking about, she got to know them and what mattered to them.

The work she saw others doing inspired her and changed her life. Today, she enthusiastic about the grassroots work she’s able to do with this coalition.

She and her team of bilingual professionals are working to engage the Spanish-speaking people in the state who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. 

ALAC helps connect people living with HIV/AIDS with healthcare and other services

Together with medical providers and community liaisons, ALAC connects people with healthcare. They work with Latinx living with HIV/AIDS in Alabama, their partners and their families. They provide support to follow up with treatment as well as other supportive services.

Here are just a few of the countless ways they help:

  • Health fairs—including testing for HIV, blood pressure and glucose
  • Legal resources—including financial immigration services and free legal clinics
  • Healthcare and dental care—including medical interpretation and translation
  • Health insurance enrollment
  • HIV and health education
  • Mental health and substance abuse services
  • Domestic violence services
  • Housing assistance
  • Case management and referrals
  • Peer support and support groups
  • Transportation—to medical and/or legal appointments
  • Policy advocacy and leadership opportunities

ALAC also provides services to the Hispanic / Latinx communities in general

ALAC and friends also provide the following services to the Hispanic / Latinx communities:

  • Access to healthcare and other supportive services at no cost
  • Free HIV and STI testing
  • Monthly legal clinic in collaboration with Legal Services of Alabama (Jefferson County domestic violence victims have priority)
  • Health fairs in the community with free health screenings and referrals
  • Free assistance for health insurance including Medicaid and All Kids
  • Advocacy presentations and trainings

In 2013, the Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition started the only support group in Alabama for Latinx families living with HIV and their loved ones. According to Hernandez, this group has turned out to be a wonderful blessing, providing supportive services, health education, advocacy opportunities for people living with HIV, camaraderie and support. 

Thanks to the generosity of many donors and volunteers, they’re able to offer all these services at no cost to participants. 

ALAC plans to offer bilingual mental health services in the future

Looking ahead, ALAC wants to provide bilingual mental health services through the Living Well Outpatient Center. These would be for community members impacted by HIV, including teens 18 and up, families and partners.

2. Volunteer at health fairs and other community events

ALAC Health Fair
At a health fair. Photo via ALAC’s Facebook page

Over the last three years, around 4,000 people have participated in community health fairs. These take place at locations like Mi Pueblo Supermarket on Green Springs or in Pelham.

While people are shopping for their groceries, they can get access to healthcare, dental care, testing and other services such as insurance or legal support.

3. Help stock backpacks for school children

ALAC's back to school fair
Modeling backpacks at the Back to School Fair. Photo via ALAC’s Facebook page

More than 1000 people participate in ALAC’s annual Back to School Fair.

You can donate items for the kids’ backpacks or help by filling backpacks in person. Click here and choose Alabama Latino Access Center in the designation section. 

4. Donate to AIDS Alabama for Alabama Latino Access Center

Dollars
“Dollars” by 401(k)2012. CC BY-SA 2.0

According to Jean Hernandez, the Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition wants to create an Alabama Latino Access Center. The goal would be to have one community center for the Latinx community providing comprehensive services and programs in one location. 

Donate here and choose Alabama Latino Access Center in the designation selection.

5. Keep up with policy issues affecting the community

It’s also important to learn about the broader policy issues affecting the community, according to Matthew Pagnotti, AIDS Alabama’s Director of Policy and Advocacy.

AIDS Alabama also provides presentations in the community. You can schedule one at your workplace, religious or community organization today.

Contact: Jean Hernandez at 205.918.8190 | Email

6. Help get people out to vote

Voting services with AIDS Alabama
Graphic courtesy of AIDS Alabama

No matter how you vote, you know that civic engagement is important. AIDS Alabama helps people know elections are coming up and how to get involved.

They also provide transportation to polling stations.

If you want to volunteer to help get out the vote, contact action@aidsalabama.org.

7. Fill out your census and/or work with the census

Census 2020
Getting ready for the census. Graphic via US Census Bureau

Start making plans to complete your 2020 census—it’s worth it. 

Here’s one article we wrote a while back. Look for more on this in the months to come.

But don’t take our word for it. AIDS Alabama is getting the word out and encouraging everyone to participate.

You can also apply to work for the census. Bonus: they pay well and you can do them part-time. Apply here.

If you’d like to find a way to put your Spanish or professional (medical, nursing, legal, etc.) skills to good use, or you simply want to find a way to love your neighbor or do some community service, AIDS Alabama’s Latino Outreach Program has plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference.

Contact: Jean Hernandez at 205.918.8190 | Email

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