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Bethany Place provides a new kind of home

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He was engaged to the person he thought was “the one.” However, instead of living happily ever after, their story came to a halt when his partner of two years had asked him not to use protection.

“It was the beginning of my end,” Douglas L. Price said.

In November 2002, he got a phone call from the doctor that would shape the rest of his life. He was HIV positive.

“HIV is something that I have; it is not who I am,” Price said.

He eventually came in contact with Bethany Place — the largest nonprofit AIDS service organization in the Metro East area.

Today, he is a client, but more importantly an advocate. He works with Bethany Place to “reach one, teach one, save one.” By speaking at different educational functions, Price is able to contribute to the prevention of HIV alongside Angela Barnes, executive director.

Bethany Place’s mission statement is to help those who have HIV in our community with a spirit of compassion and justice — those affected and infected.

Sisters Mary Rombach and Carol Baltosiewich of the Franciscan Third Order of Hospital Sisters founded Bethany Place. At the start, these nuns would take HIV-positive people into their homes and care for them. When the clientele grew, the agency had to as well.

Since 1988, this organization has been providing six programs to people living with HIV/AIDS regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion: Case Management, Prevention/Education Outreach, Transitional Housing, Rental Assistance, Needle Exchange Operation of the Metro East and Volunteer Services.

Bethany Place, located in Belleville, has created a caring and non-judgmental environment dedicated to adhering to each client’s individual needs.

“They can’t get the assistance anywhere else,” Barnes said.

The staff at Bethany Place strives to ensure every client is provided with the materials they need to maintain the best quality of life possible.

When Barnes began working with Bethany Place 10 years ago, she knew no one with HIV; however, she says by week one she was in love with the patients because they are more appreciative and motivated than any other person she knows.

This year, the grant from Old Newsboys Day will support the Case Management Program; it is designed to provide an individualized treatment for each client. The donation will specifically provide children 5 to 21 with the essentials they need for the year.

Last year, Bethany Place also used the money for the Case Management Program. They were able to provide 26 kids with school supplies, clothing and for some both. This past year in particular the children also received new tennis shoes — a luxury most people take for granted.

Barnes remembers the excitement and rather odd precautions the children took when they received their brand new shoes. To avoid getting them dirty, one boy continuously rubbed the box instead of taking the shoes out; whereas, another tried them on while still holding onto the laces.

“You would have thought it was Christmas and they won the lottery,” Barnes said.

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