AHF Joins The Red Pump Project in Honoring South Side Help Center Founder Betty Smith

The Red Pump Project, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls, will present Betty Smith with the coveted Ultimate Red Pump Rocker Award at their annual Rock the Red Fashion Show event on Saturday, March 19th.

Betty Smith is the founder of the South Side Help Center, an affiliate of AIDS Healthcare Foundation that has provided HIV prevention and other services to over 400,000 community residents over the last 20 years.

CHICAGO, IL (March 16, 2016) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global HIV/AIDS organization, salutes The Red Pump Project for recognizing South Side Help Center (SSHC) founder Betty Smith for her strong leadership in providing critical services to those affected by HIV/AIDS on Chicago’s South Side. A respiratory therapist in a local hospital during the onset of the AIDS epidemic, Ms. Smith saw her community devastated by the disease: Affected African-American men were dying in large numbers, and HIV patients were often ignored and treated with little compassion. Driven by a desire to help her community, Smith launched the South Side Help Center in 1987. For over 20 years, Smith helped coordinate collaborative service relationships with more than 30 public and private health and community organizations, with her agency serving a cumulative 400,000 community residents between 1987 and 2008. Ms. Smith has since passed the torch to her daughter, Vanessa Smith, who has lead the agency to provide even greater services.  South Side’s capabilities have now expanded beyond HIV/AIDS prevention to include direct care services and Youth and Capacity Programs that serve at-risk minorities in the area.

Betty Smith’s outstanding accomplishments will be recognized and celebrated this weekend by The Red Pump Project, a non-profit organization that empowers women and girls against HIV/AIDS. Red Pump will present Ms. Smith with its Ultimate Red Pump Rocker Award during the organization’s 7th Annual Rock The Red Fashion Show fundraising event on Saturday, March 19.

“We’re really excited to honor Miss Betty because her work has had such a great impact on the community,” said Luvvie Ajayi, Red Pump’s Executive Director and Co-Founder. “When you think about people whose work has changed lives, and whose efforts has led the way for many other organizations, Betty is high on that list. Her impactful legacy inspires us and we look forward to celebrating her.”

“The Red Pump Project could not have chosen a better award recipient than Betty Smith,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Her early and determined leadership on HIV/AIDS served as a beacon of compassion, care and service in the community and greatly inspires us to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS. We are proud to be affiliated with her enduring legacy—the South Side Help Center–as we honor and celebrate Betty Smith on Saturday.”

AHF announced its partnership with South Side Help Center in February of last year, following the observation of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The affiliation seeks to expand the delivery of HIV/AIDS care and services for Chicago’s South Side, especially its deeply affected African-American communities. A recent press release from the Centers for Disease Control projected that about half of black men who have sex with men (MSM) will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime. For African-American women aged 25-34 years, HIV is the leading cause of death. AHF, South Side Help Center, and the Red Pump Project are committed to addressing HIV’s disproportionate impact on communities of color through comprehensive counseling and testing services, education and awareness, and the AHF Black AIDS Taskforce, a talented group of leaders who work to ensure access to care and support for those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

About SSHC
Since 1987, South Side Help Center has been working to help provide people with positive and healthy alternatives. Though SSHC was initially founded with the goal of educating the African-American religious community so it could be sensitive to the needs of people dying from HIV/AIDS, our services have evolved beyond HIV prevention to include direct care services and a comprehensive range of Youth and Capacity Building programs that serve minorities at greatest risk across the city of Chicago, State of Illinois and Midwest Region of the United States. From helping the homeless, to creating and implementing cutting-edge substance abuse and violence prevention programs, to providing mental health counseling and HIV education for men, women and youth, SSHC has been Living Our Mission, Serving People and Strengthening Communities. http://www.southsidehelp.org/

About The Red Pump Project®

The Red Pump Project ® is a 501(c) 3 federally recognized national non-profit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. We empower, educate, and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention and issues related to sexual and reproductive health. We use the Red Pump as a symbol of empowerment to represent the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS. Red Pump believes that if HIV affects one, it affects us all. We use a powerful symbol for a powerful cause. The incorporation of fashion into the message of HIV prevention is our contribution as we hope to show that Awareness is Always in Style! www.redpump.org.