History of AIDS Project Worcester:
Through the mid-80‘s, residents of the city of Worcester and its surrounding suburbs began to get infected with HIV in increasing numbers. With few government or community services available at the time, those early individuals and families found comfort and support particularly in Pakachoag Community Church in Auburn. As the numbers grew throughout the mid-80‘s, the complexity of needs expanded. As a result, the need for more services became evident. Out of community discussions concerning how to best meet those needs, AIDS Project Worcester, Inc. was born.
APW was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in 1987 to provide education to the community about HIV/AIDS and services to individuals and families infected with HIV disease. APW has grown from a narrowly focused, case management AIDS service organization into the primary provider of non-medical HIV/AIDS support services in Central Massachusetts. The agency has expanded from a small Shrewsbury Street store-front office into its current location at 85 Green Street in Worcester. APW enhanced its service provision by increasing the professionalism of service-delivery staff, while strengthening the organization’s volunteer base. By the mid-90‘s, APW’s community profile had been raised significantly and signature fundraising activities had been well established, including the annual Walk For Life and Art For AIDS Sake.
APW has been an industry leader in the design and implementation of customer-oriented service delivery systems. Two major examples can be found in APW’s Case Management System and in the agency’s creative, unique Prevention and Screening Programs. The model of delivering client services through a “triage” evaluation system is now being implemented by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. APW’s clinical-services-based prevention and education program targeting men who have sex with men is unique in the New England area. Its success is being viewed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a model for the implementation of similar programs outside the Boston Metropolitan area. Because of the quality and diversity of its services, APW has experienced growth in the number of its consumers, exceeding 15% per year. In the late 90‘s, APW began the restructuring of its programs and administration to respond to the dramatically changing needs of consumers, which were a result of the improvement in medical treatment. These changes can be expressed in two basic concepts:
1) Moving from an organization focused on helping people die with dignity, to one which assists people to live full lives.
2) Moving organizationally and programmatically from crisis, short-term response, to long-term strategic planning.
These changes formed a foundation that could ensure the continued delivery of relevant, caring and comprehensive HIV/AIDS services to individuals and families in Central Massachusetts for years to come.
APW’s mission statement is centralized around three(3) core values; education, advocacy and service. These core values are achieved through comprehensive client service programs, prevention and education services and the staff’s ability to be strong advocates for people living with HIV. Services extend to those who are at risk for HIV disease, as well as those who are living with HIV/AIDS.
APW strives to increase pro-active community education and public presence through the development of programs targeting schools, colleges, corporations and community organizations.
APW networks with other community organizations, as well as government agencies, at the local, state and national level, in order to multiply its effectiveness and have the ability to offer a wide range of services to those dealing with AIDS-related issues.