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Trauma Center

It is only June, and already the city of Albany has seen its fair share of shootings for the year. In May, the murder of 17-year-old Jovan Morton marked the fifth homicide of 2002. Local neighborhoods were shaken once again last week (June 8) when another senseless murder took the life of 16-year-old Ayvontasjaie Turner. The teen was shot six times on Third Street after a dispute over a $35 dice game.

While there are a number of programs in the city that work to prevent such incidents from occurring, there are few that deal with the traumatic effects that such criminal activities have on a community’s psyche.

Lisa Good, program director at the Homer Perkins Center, and Isla Roona, director of development for the Albany Restorative Community Justice Center, are looking to change that. This Monday (June 24), the two women will hold an informational meeting to discuss the startup of a Trauma Response and Grief/Bereavement Project for the city of Albany. (The meeting will take place at 6:30 PM at the Arbor Hill Community Center.) The goal of the program is to provide community members with an appropriate way to grieve and cope with the feelings of fear, anger and depression that are often the result of distressing and violent situations.

“In our communities, particularly the black communities, people lose their family members to sudden violent acts or people become injured or our young people are witnessing sudden violent acts very frequently,” said Good. “And yet we don’t have the resources with in our communities to give that emotional first aid, or even recognize that this has happened and that it devastates people’s lives.”

Teams will be trained in critical-incident stress management and debriefing. They will go into a community after an incident has occurred and work with people who are in need of emotional support. The teams will consist of mental health professionals, religious leaders, social workers and community peers.

“We are trying to meet the needs of the community in a way that is not necessarily involving any full-scale counseling or professional intervention, although they could get referred to those areas if they needed it,” said Roona. “People really are not comfortable going for full assistance, especially when they are in such pain. They really want something that is provided by the community where they feel comfortable and not in any way stigmatized by being affected by a traumatic event.”

—N.G.

Testing, Testing

A collaboration of AIDS orga-nizations in the Capital Region will host a Take the Test campaign from June 22-29. The weeklong event will provide free HIV testing at a variety of locations, including churches, bars and health centers. The theme of this year’s event is “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You and Me.”

For the last six years, the event has been promoted by a national coalition of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, but this is the second year that local AIDS service organizations are participating.

“Last year we had over 200 people tested, which indicates to me that we have a great need for testing and awareness,” said Catherine Callan, director of public relations for the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. “We want people to get tested so that we can detect the virus early and get them the services and medical intervention needed in the beginning stages of the disease.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one million people in the United States are expected to be HIV positive by the end of 2002; an estimated one-third of those probably will not even know that they are infected. New York state leads the country with the highest number of reported cases, 80 percent of which are people of color.

“We are out talking to people all the time about risk and prevention, so we know there is still an incredible amount of ignorance around HIV and AIDS,” said Blue Carreker, director of public affairs and marketing for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. “There is a lot of misconception, so we are trying to get through that and encourage people to get tested, and try to remove as many barriers as possible to people coming in and getting tested.”

The week of testing kicks of this Saturday with a family-fun day at Livingston Park in Albany. For a listing of test sites and more information, call 471-9575.

—N.G.


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