In the fall of 2014, two long-time members of St. Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church each received a special edition Ben’s Bell from TIHAN. Noel Matkin, PhD, and Ann Baldwin, BScN, were recognized for their long-time dedicated support and caring for the clients of TIHAN, all of whom are living with HIV.
Many readers may wonder what TIHAN is about, how it got started, and how it operates today. TIHAN stands for Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network. The original idea came from a parishioner at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church in 1990. People with HIV at that time were often dying, away from supportive (or non-supportive) families, and there was no organized help from faith communities, until TIHAN got started, and St. Philip’s joined the effort.
St. Philip’s, St. Francis, and a handful of other churches and synagogues joined together to provide volunteer caregivers, well-trained by TIHAN’s Executive Director, Scott Blades, who is still leading TIHAN after more than 20 years.
Volunteers from faith communities are trained to:
- Understand the basics of HIV and AIDS
- Know that casual contact does not transmit the HIV virus
- Understand that all volunteer work with clients must remain confidential
- Find ways to help, including participating in Care Teams. Sharing as part of a Care Team of 3 or 4 volunteers, helping one client, makes it very manageable.
The interfaith nature of TIHAN allows a good mix of backgrounds and brings different resources and a sense of cooperation between different faiths, all working towards a common mission.
Today the coalition has grown from seven to more than forty faith communities. Each month, several faith communities join together to put on a “Poz Cafe,” providing not only delicious hot lunches for about 200 TIHAN clients, but also opportunities for fellowship and fun together. “Care packages” of much-needed toiletries are given for each person to take home.
All these TIHAN support services — CareTeams, Poz Café lunch, and much more — are provided from funds raised by each participating community, generous parishioners and community members, and one enormous gala fund-raising evening every year, “Treasures for TIHAN,” a live and silent auction to raise funds to help people living with HIV.
Each year, TIHAN expands to serve more people who live with HIV. More people are always needed to volunteer, participate, and help in many ways.
TIHAN has a 20-year history of serving our community, and St. Philip’s has always been a proud partner in this Outreach Ministry. From the earliest days of TIHAN, we have had active members doing everything from fundraising through a variety of events; to volunteering with compassion for clients and working with other faith communities to help whenever; to cooking food for lunch and holiday dinners and carving and serving those meals, with much laughter and fun!
Today, the needs evolve, but TIHAN and people living with HIV still need the love and support from the people of St. Philip’s! To become involved, please contact the Rev. Ralph Taylor, St. Philip’s TIHAN coordinator.
Ann Baldwin, St. Philip’s former Parish Nurse, says that she is grateful that St. Philip’s introduced her to TIHAN so many years ago. “TIHAN is the most fulfilling non-profit organization that truly makes a difference and through which I’ve met so many generous spirits and devoted volunteers.”