Cornyation funds Newly Empowered Women

The QueQue has so much fun at Cornyation's ribald roman a clef each year â?? even when we're not King Anchovy â?? that we sometimes forget the program's good works: a half-million dollars raised for organizations that fight AIDS and support kids since its eat-humble-pie beginnings. This year, the organization that has done more to legitimize drag as an art form than any other SA institution is giving $45, 000 to Black Effort Against the Threat of AIDS, the majority of which will go to fund its Newly Empowered Women program.

Tomorrow's awards ceremony will double as a ribbon-cutting for the Eastside facility, which can house up to 24 women for six months to two years while they take classes in parenting, budgeting, cognitive problem-solving, and ethnic and gender pride among others. (Political celebrities are promised, including District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson.) NEW is designed for women who are HIV-positive or directly impacted by AIDS, and who are dealing with other complicating factors, including homelessness, mental illness, addiction recovery, and/or recent incarceration.

BEAT AIDS Executive Director Michele Durham said the program was developed in response to similar facilities in Texas and other states, as well as interviews with their day-service clients, and depended heavily on the input of a 15-member committee. Participants will be drawn from treatment facilities, substance-abuse programs, prisons, and jails, among other places, with a special focus on San Antonio residents.

“We are especially pleased, glad, and excited that we're going to have a facility right here in San Antonio where women can come back home,” she said.

The program will prioritize working with women of color because those populations are disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic â?? African-American women are 10 times more likely to become HIV positive than their white counterparts, and five times more likely than Latinas â?? who in turn are eight times more likely to become HIV positive than white women.

The facility, which will also work with offsite clients, will operate 24/7, providing three full meals and snacks each day. A key part of NEW's programming reunites mothers with children they may have been separated from due to homelessness, drug addiction, or prison through onsite visits, without the pressures of running a household while they're rebuilding their lives and relationships.

Durham expects NEW to increase BEAT AIDS' annual $2.5 million budget by another $500,000. The first two residents will move in in July, and the participants will grow exponentially from there until they reach 24.

Cornyation 2010 is also enriching these coffers:

The Robert Rehm Scholarship Fund ($4,000)

SOLI Chamber Ensemble ($2,500)

Help, Action, Care ($25,000)

San Antonio AIDS Foundation ($35,000)

Attend the ribbon-cutting and funding-announcement celebration Tuesday at 6pm at 618 Hudson St.

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