January Damien Center Update

January 2022


January 22, 2022



COVID Protocols

As Damien Center starts to plan and execute more events, we want to ensure that everyone is staying as safe as possible. With the current conditions, we will be keeping all indoor events to a 10-person maximum. Participants will be required to wear a mask at all times during events unless eating or drinking. We also would highly suggest that any participant that comes in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 stay home until they have received a negative test after 72 hours (about 3 days) of the last contact with the person.

Click here to view the Damien Center’s COVID-19 Protocols

COVID Vaccine Information Session

Our team has been putting together an educational video, in partnership with our medical clinic, to give background on the COVID-19 vaccine and answer questions folks in the community may have about the process.

For anyone interested, please email Annie Nelson for a link to the training. For those who complete the info session, which includes a video and questionnaire, individuals will receive a $20 Kroger gift card.

Family Programming

The Damien Center believes that the best way to keep clients engaged in care is by engaging the whole family. Because of this, we have brought on a Family Support Specialist to help with developing programs and events for the whole family. Diana sent us some of her goals and thoughts on future family events below.

What are your goals as the Family Support Specialist?

My main goals are to increase connection of families to community family resources, develop annual family programming, and engage families in experiences and opportunities that strengthen the family unit.

What exciting things do you have coming up for families in 2022?

We will have Family Days that will be an opportunity for clients and their families to interact in fun, education, and developmental programming. We will also be conducting Healthy Relationship training for youth and adults with the Domestic Violence Network.

What will be some ongoing programming?

Youth/Parent Cafes

We will have youth/parent cafes throughout the year. Cafes offer a unique opportunity for youth (13-18 still in high school) and adults to have authentic and guided conversations with each other about their family, community, and lives in a related and supportive environment. The atmosphere is that of a café or bistro, food and refreshments are provided along with family resources.

Building a Future

Building a Future is a life skills program that focuses on current topics that impact clients and the community.

Health and Well-Being Workshop

The health and Well-Being workshop will help clients understand the advantages of working out and how it helps maintain a healthy mentality (emotional and mental). The audience will also learn how to manage a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Relationship Training

Healthy Relationship training will be provided by the Domestic Violence Network. The trainings will focus on Healthy Boundaries for Healthy Relationships and The Dynamics of Domestic Violence.

Parent Workshops

Parent workshops are provided by Child Care Answers and are workshops where parents can come to develop their parenting skills. The topics focus on early childhood milestones, discipline, routine, and readiness.

How do people get involved with Family Services?

Visit our website Damien.org and view the events calendar. You can also contact your Care Team.

For any questions regarding family services or programming, they can reach out to Diana Owens at [email protected].


Positive Youth Action is a new Leadership Development and Grant program developed at Damien Center to engage young people, ages 16-24, in HIV Care, Prevention, and Advocacy that recognizes the need for Youth and Young Adult voices at the decision-making table. With HIV affecting young people at a rising rate, accounting for 55 of the 271 new HIV infections in the Indianapolis area in 2019, +YA seeks to interrupt the status-quo and paint a new picture of the future for young people, by young people. The program was developed by Evren Elliott. Here is what he has to say about Positive Youth Action.

What can people expect from Positive Youth Action?

Each participant will engage in their whole-self wellness regarding HIV care or prevention, learn valuable leadership and advocacy skills, and be a part of completing a project designed to decrease HIV stigma and promote care and prevention. They’ll be put into rooms where big things happen, and we’ll make sure that people who make decisions know their names. Not only will participants will leave with a new community of friends and colleagues as well as professional work training and references, but they’ll be equipped to execute advocacy projects of their own design and directly impact the state of HIV De-Stigmatization, Treatment, and Prevention in our city and state.

Who will the cohort learn from?

Members of the cohort will work to gain the skills to speak confidently about HIV in their communities as well as the need for youth-led advocacy in the HIV field. They’ll learn about the HIV Modernization Movement here in Indiana and learn from its leaders as well as leaders from the ACLU of Indiana, Child Advocates’ Interrupting Racism for Children, meet artist activists working locally as well as facilitators from Arts for Learning, meet activists from all over the world through the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, and more!

What are you most looking forward to with Positive Youth Action?

Not only am I looking forward to facilitating incredible conversations with our cohort, but I’m thrilled to listen and learn from an incredibly diverse group of perspectives. With the resources we have to put to use, this group truly has the opportunity to build an incredible legacy of youth-led action in Indianapolis and beyond.

How do people submit an application/what does that process look like?

There is an online application process that is open now, but the next cohort will not start until late July. Information sessions will start in May, and you can attend those or email the Youth Program Specialist at [email protected] to ask any questions. After the online application, there will be a short interview process – and we do our best to be as upfront as possible with what to expect the whole way!

What else do you want people to know?

This is an incredible opportunity for any young person to learn about HIV Advocacy or deepen the knowledge they already have while gaining the tools to speak confidently to others on the subject. Joining +YA provides pathways into careers, opportunities for growth and professional development in the community, the chance to participate in program and policy development to better serve other Young Adults, and meet any needs that the group lifts up with attention and purpose.

For anyone who has interest in Positive Youth Action, they can e-mail the Youth Specialist, Evren Elliott at [email protected].

Employment Services

Kennedy Buyer is Damien Center’s Employment Specialist. She has spent the past 6 months in this role creating new opportunities for the Damien community. We did a question and answer session with Kennedy to see what is in store for 2022.

What new things are coming to Employment Services this year?

Employment Services will be expanding to reach more clients! Every Wednesday, I will be set up over at Trans Solutions. Here I will host walk-in hours for clients who have any questions, want extra support with job searching and coaching etc. In addition, Job Ready Indy will start back up again in February.

What information can you give about open office hours/Trans Solutions?

Employment Services will be set up at Trans Solutions every Wednesday from 8:30-5:30pm. Walk-In office hours will be from 1-4pm.

What can you tell clients about Job Ready, Indy?

Job Ready Indy will be starting up in February! Clients will sign up for in person sessions (if permitted) to learn about various job skills.

What can clients expect coming into an employment session?

When coming into an employment session, we will begin with an overview of the employment program. We then brainstorm a client’s employment goals. Once a client completes a goal sheet, we will review a checklist in preparation for our next meeting. I want these sessions to be catered to each client’s individual needs.

What services are provided?

Within the employment program, I provide 1:1 mentoring sessions, support with job searching and applications, lessons on resume writing, hiring fairs with local employers (larger hiring fairs coming soon!) and more.

What do typical meetings look like?

Meeting 1: Work with Employment Specialist on client’s employment goals and review a checklist to plan for meeting #2.

Meeting 2: Depending on how the checklist is answered, the client will work with the Employment Specialist on resume creation.

Meeting 3: Client will work with Employment Specialist to apply for jobs

How do people contact Employment Services?

Ask your care team to fill out a job referral form. Once that is filled out, have your care team member send it back to me via email or stick it on my desk. I will review the referral form and reach out to the client directly to set up the first meeting.

What should people know before setting up sessions with you?

Each session will be catered to a client’s individual needs. Clients do not need to bring anything to their first session. For our second session, we will create an updated resume. Clients need to think about their job history before our second session so that we can complete a resume during the duration of the meeting. If I need anything else, I will communicate with each client directly.

What items do they need to bring to their first session?

Clients need to bring an open mind and the want to get a job! I am looking forward to working with clients towards their goals. It is important to know that finding a job will not be a quick process, but my plan is to work with each client every step of the way.

We are excited to have Kennedy as a part of the Damien Center team. Anyone who is interested in our employment program or has questions, can reach out to Kennedy directly, [email protected].

Support Groups

During the past year, Damien Center has been working to develop support groups for our community to come together and have conversations about life and to support one another. All support groups are meeting in person at Damien Center and are moderated by one or more Damien staff members. A description of each support group can be found below.

Trans and Non-Binary Support Group: It is an open support group for Trans and Non-Binary individuals. The group is led by Erica Cox and will create a safe space for trans and non-binary folks to come receive encouragement and talk about real-life situations to increase resilience and strengths. The group is created to help reduce isolation and create a sense of belonging. The group will be held every other Thursday from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM.

Pregnant and Parenting Support Group: The Pregnant and Parenting Support Group is the first Monday of every month from 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm. The Pregnant and Parenting Support Group is an open support group for all pregnant and parenting individuals. The group’s purpose is to help create a space for those who are pregnant or have children to have a safe space to be open and talk through real life situations. The Pregnant and Parenting Support group will begin in March 2022.

Women’s Support Group: The Women’s Support Group meets the first and third Wednesday of the month from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm. The support group is an open group where any woman who is interested can come and talk about everyday life struggles in a safe space to help them get around their barriers. The group’s moderators are Annie Nelson, Kelsey Wolf, and Stephanie Hambrick.

Youth Support Group: The Youth Support Group will begin on February 24, 2022, at 6:00 pm. The meetings will be on the 2nd and 4th Thursday every month. The group is open to any youth between the ages of 16-24 years of age to come and have a safe space to talk through everyday life. The group will be led by Evren Elliott.

Latinx Support Group: In March, Damien Center will start a new Latinx support group for those in the Damien community seeking a safe space to come work through daily life and daily struggles. The group will be led by Jacks Von Lira and April Avina.

New Positives Support Group: Starting on February 8th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm, there will be a new support group for those who have received a positive diagnosis within the last 6 months. This will be a safe space to come and talk through anything that comes along with receiving a positive diagnosis. The group will be led by John Coberg.

For anyone who is interested in joining the above groups, they can contact Annie Nelson ([email protected]) with the group they would like to be a part of.

Client Advisory Board

Client Advisory Board will be returning to in person meetings starting on March 24, 2021. The meetings will be held in the board room upstairs at the Damien Center from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Client Advisory Board is a space for clients to come and use their voice for the happenings in Damien. Clients who attend will receive a Kroger gift card for attending. Clients who wish to participate in Client Advisory Board can reach out to Annie Nelson ([email protected]).

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