Services Don’t Stop

Michael's Story


June 06, 2020



“One thing I’m impressed with at the Damien Center,” says Michael Martinez, “in light of a problem, they respond to it.” Michael would know. He has been on the receiving end of services before Covid-19, moving to central Indiana from Ft. Wayne several years ago. “There are lots of moving parts and Damien Center does a great job of adapting.”

Michael is busy, and ambitious. He is going back to school for a second time, studying human resources. Before Covid-19, he held down two jobs as well: One as a cheerleading coach and choreographer. One at Starbucks. The coaching has come to a halt for now. Work at Starbucks has gotten busier. Schoolwork was already online so not much has changed there. But through the ups and downs of this crazy time we’re in, Damien’s Center’s efforts remained steady in keeping people like Michael physically and emotionally healthy.

“My ability to rebound from setbacks in my life is contingent purely on being healthy,” says Michael. He reflects on how much harder things—big and small—are for all of us when we are not healthy. For Michael, writing a research paper or reaching out to the professor would have been hard. Things he now does easily would have been impossible years ago when in the grips of addiction, he hit rock bottom. Michael understands better than most old adage “Without health, we have nothing.”

Providing access to mental and physical health for people with HIV/AIDS is where the Damien Center shines, even with the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has brought. It developed a Covid-19 response, a variety of adaptations to continue to provide critical services. Many of its clients are among the most likely to suffer negative effects from the changes Covid-19 has brought, and Michael makes an astute point: “Covid-19 has made me think about the fragility of society. What would I do if I didn’t have access to my medication?”

Michael’s well-spoken and effervescent manner will serve him well in his new field when he finishes his degree in human resources. “I really like people,” he exclaims. Liking people may give him an advantage in understanding them too, especially when those people are thinking of donating to the Damien Center. “Helping others is how we help ourselves. And you are helping to change the trajectory of one person’s life.”