AIDS ACTION Baltimore’s TEA TIME (Transpeople Empowerment in Action) provides a safe space for transgender people to openly discuss their life concerns without fear of discrimination or harassment. The name “TEA TIME” hails from an early twentieth century tradition among some transgender and drag communities, who hosted tea parties or dances as safe non-sexual venues to gather and express sisterhood, and make important peer-networking connections.
In keeping with this tradition, our program provides group/individual level interventions, and outreach services to the transgender community. Our group level intervention gives participants an opportunity to openly network with fellow transgender people in a safe environment. These groups are geared to promote HIV Prevention while addressing social and political issues. Furthermore, sessions are both educational and entertaining.
Secondly, our individual level interventions allow participants to work together with a counselor in resolving personal problems, and receive needed medical and social referrals to culturally competent programs. This service is administered in a fully confidential space.
Lastly, our outreach services deliver HIV prevention messages to the transgender community. This healthcare service is given without personal biases, judgment, or lecture.
We welcome you to join us at 10 E. Eager Street, Baltimore Maryland 21202. Our phone number is 410-837-5573.
Take care, and remember that you are loved.
Positive Wellness and Renewal (POWER) provides the structure for the delivery of Individual Level Intervention services. POWER combines traditional case management and client-centered prevention counseling to provide highly individualized and intensive support for behavioral change. POWER is based on the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) of Behavioral Change. This model recognizes five stages of an individual’s readiness to change behaviors: Pre-contemplative, Contemplative, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. Within this approach, relapse is viewed as a normal process that may occur, and be overcome, in any of the last four stages. POWER assists clients in identifying where they are in the Stages of Change model and in developing an Individualized Prevention Plan (IPP) based on a client’s personal goals. POWER employs a harm reduction approach that meets clients at their individual level (stage-based approach), seeks to reduce physical and mental harm to a client and sexual partners, normalizes and de-stigmatizes a client’s current place on the spectrum of change by targeting realistic health goals set by the client, and assists the client in moving forward with that individualized plan. Modular sessions within the curriculum help clients address specific risk behaviors, such as risk of HIV transmission, sexual risk, substance abuse, harm reduction strategies, psychosocial and coping issues as well as other relevant issues.
Phillip Lovett is our trained behavior intervention specialist who provides direct facilitation of the POWER curriculum through individual-level sessions and co-facilitation of the monthly group-level intervention. Mr. Lovett is responsible for conducting Intake Assessments with transgender persons, and based on their needs, enrolling them into the program, conducting Individual Level Intervention using the POWER curriculum, developing a personal action plan and appropriate health and supportive services referrals, following-up with clients on their personal action plans, co-facilitating group level intervention in the form of a peer networking/skills development group, making the Maryland Transgender Persons’ Need Assessment survey available to clients who would like to participate, collecting completed surveys and providing referrals to HIV health and human services as necessary.
Falina Laron is our Peer Educator/Outreach Worker. Falina is an active member of the target population community and has unique insight into the challenges and risks experienced by transgender people in Baltimore. Ms. Laron has a history of demonstrated effectiveness in the role of Peer Educator/Outreach Worker. She has worked effectively with her colleagues and the community to promote this project and to maintain high levels of client retention. Falina is responsible for conducting outreach activities, including street and venue-based outreach, coordination of outreach with the BCHD Needle Exchange Project’s transgender outreach efforts and targeted online outreach efforts. Ms. Laron also coordinates recruitment and logistics for delivery of the Transgender Persons’ Needs Assessment activities, including recruiting transgender community members that the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will train to conduct needs assessment discussion groups and key information interviews. She also assists Philip Lovett, our Behavioral Intervention Specialist, in co-facilitating the monthly group level intervention sessions, actively assists clients in accessing referrals made by our Behavioral Intervention Specialist, develops and maintains community resource linkages, works with clients to identify structural risks within the community and shares this information at the monthly group sessions to develop community-level risk-reduction strategies, assists clients in accessing and participating in the Maryland Transgender Persons’ Need Assessment and provides logistical support with food, set-up/clean up, materials distribution, forms collection and attends scheduled Transgender Response Team Meetings.
Falina Laron, our Peer Educator/Outreach Worker, maintains a visible and reliable presence at multiple venues in Baltimore City where transgender people gather and conducts outreach and recruitment to ensure that this project attains and remains at full enrollment. Target venues include: Club Bunns, The Hippo, Central Station, City Café, and Lexington Market. She also works collaboratively with the Baltimore City Health Department’s Needle Exchange Program on their weekly targeted outreach to transgender persons in the Old Goucher neighborhood. AAB maintains active referral networks with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, Hearts and Ears, Inc., Chase-Brexton Health Services, Inc., The Portal, Women Accepting Responsibility (WAR), Health Care for the Homeless and other groups that serve transgender people at risk for HIV. Ms. Laron has established and fosters personal connections with these organizations and with other health and human services agencies that serve transgender clientele in order to provide information and to disseminate recruitment and promotional materials through their extended networks. Online recruitment through transgender-focused chat rooms, web sites, Craigslist, and other electronic media is also conducted.
RISE (Rewriting Inner Scripts)
RISE was developed to assist MSM in making the connection between past oppression and current behavior in an effort to better prepare them to participate and engage in other health programs. Health-seeking behaviors result when individuals place value on their own health and exert effort or incur costs in order to maintain good health. Some same-gender-loving men have been so impacted by oppression that they do not value themselves enough to participate in health programs such as HIV prevention, HIV care and treatment and/or mental health or substance abuse treatment. RISE explores the shame associated with being a same-gender-loving man. RISE helps participants to perceive that their sexual orientation does not make them a failure. Rather, others have failed to value their sexual orientation. The purpose of a RISE Retreat is to facilitate a shift in self-esteem and perspective for MSMs. RISE is intended to serve a maximum of ten MSM Baltimore City residents aged 18 and older per retreat. After attending a RISE Retreat, participants are more self-accepting and better prepared to perceive themselves as worthy of health-seeking behaviors, including HIV prevention or treatment.
RISE combines a one-day retreat (9-hours) with a second ½-day (5-hours) follow-up retreat. Day 1 is intended to raise participant awareness of barriers (e.g., internalized heterosexism and homophobia) to health-seeking behaviors. Half the day’s activities identify the sources of internalized oppression in the dimensions of gender and sexual orientation. The balance of the day involves reframing and rebuilding exercises which empower participants to interrupt negative self-talk and reframe internal decisions. The retreat concludes with the distribution of a local MSM Resource Guide, including referrals to MSM-friendly HIV care providers. Participants are offered the opportunity to receive a one-on-one individual-level motivational interview with the Behavioral Interventionist within 2 weeks of completing the RISE retreat. The individual-level session includes RISE follow-up, individualized needs assessment, personal action plan development, targeted referrals, and motivational counseling. Day 2 (5-hours) reunites participants from the first day in a half-day retreat that focuses on reviewing and processing as a group what was learned on Day 1, exploring the impact of internalized oppression on participants’ relationship-expectations and relationships with other men. Day 2 also provides special focus on HIV/STD and other health risks and risk reduction strategies appropriate for participants.
Chris Gardner, our RISE Facilitator, is a trained behavioral interventionist who provides direct facilitation for RISE retreats, as well as post-retreat individual-level motivational interviews with retreat participants. Mr. Gardner previously worked for AAB as a RISE Small Group Peer Facilitator, distinguishing himself as an innovative, highly skilled facilitator who has an excellent rapport with participants. Mr. Gardner is responsible for recruiting, maintaining, and providing training and supervision of the Small Group Facilitators, conducting RISE with 10 participants per retreat, scheduling and conducting post-retreat individual-level motivational interviewing and conducting an individual needs assessment, conducting referrals to HIV health and human services, and actively assisting clients in accessing services.
Small Group Facilitators Scott Wilfong, John Flannery, Alfredo Santiago and Andrew Tompkins are our small group facilitators. Small Group Facilitators are responsible for attending each of the RISE retreats, assisting the RISE Facilitator in managing activities conducted in the breakout sessions and during large group activities during the retreat and providing logistical support with food, set-up/clean up, materials distribution and forms collection.
Participants in RISE retreats are recruited through outreach efforts conducted weekly by the Small Group Facilitators, referrals from other MSM-serving health and human service organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore (GLCCB), Chase-Brexton Health Services, Inc., advertisements placed in local newspapers (Gay Life, Outloud, and City Paper), and distribution of outreach and promotional materials in local MSM-friendly venues, such as GLCCB, local clubs and restaurants, and local AIDS Service Organizations. AAB also coordinates referrals with Empowering New Concepts/The Portal for mutual referrals. The target population for recruitment to RISE is MSM of any race/ethnicity, ages 18 and older, who reside in Baltimore City.