Food, fun and fundraising to benefit Positive Directions
By Beth Wasson
WICHITA - If you’re looking for a little fun after the holidays the Winter Fire and Ice Gala might be the event for you. Happening Jan. 19 at Abode Venue, the evening promises fun, food, and a fundraising auction for Positive Directions Inc. (PDI), a local non-profit organization committed to the prevention of HIV.
Tickets, only available online at postivedirectionsks.org, are $80 for the main event starting at 7pm, or $100 for early entry as a VIP at 6pm. Beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres and what Executive Director Brett Hogan describes as “eye-popping ambient entertainment” are included with the admission price.
Without revealing too much, Hogan promises a “fun, funky night” with the likes of magicians, singers, and dancers performing continuously throughout the gala. Attendees are encouraged to dress for fun whether that is formal attire or a more casual choice.
Underwriters for the gala include Spirit AeroSystems, XY Bar, Abode Venue, Douglas Design District, and B Young Salon along with many private donations. The fun continues with an after party at XY in Old Town. One hundred percent of the ticket price goes to PDI for funding its services and community outreach.
Positive Directions began in 1992 primarily as a case management and food pantry for those suffering from AIDS. The last two years the organization re-focused on education and prevention of HIV and other STD’s. As part of that mission, PDI offers free Rapid HIV testing with results in 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, just visit the office at 416 S. Commerce St., Suite 108.
Another very important part of PDI is its community outreach services including condom dispensers at many locations around Wichita such as Club Boomerang, XY Bar, The Hopping Gnome, J’s Lounge, Rain Café, and Rocky’s.
With an emphasis on education, PDI employees speak to students and other groups giving updated, reliable information about HIV. There’s never a charge for any of PDI’s services. “There’s less talk of HIV today than there once was,” Hogan explains. “Which leaves many teenagers ignorant of important information about transmission of the virus and the need for safe- sex practices.”
There are also new treatments for those infected with HIV, yet most people never hear about it. “There are ads everywhere about drugs for watery eyes,” Hogan said, “but not about new drugs available for HIV.”
Even though media attention is down, the annual infection rate has not varied much over the years. There’s over 1.1 million cases of known HIV-infection in the United States plus Hogan says, “one in every seven people don’t know they have it.”
PDI needs help getting the message out that HIV and AIDS are still around. Hogan says that many high school curriculums only include an average of 20 minutes on HIV, presented during a gym class. Unfortunately, misinformation is still rampant and Hogan notes that a large number of young people still think of HIV and AIDS as a gay man’s disease.
PDI’s funding comes from local and state grants, corporate and private donations. If you’d like to help, PDI can set up a monthly withdrawal donation with money coming directly from your bank account, similar to the way many pay utilities each month. If you’d like to volunteer, contact PDI as they are currently compiling a database of volunteer names. l