I was informed today that Persad Center faces a dire choice due to finances – either merge with the much larger Allies for Health + Wellbeing (formerly known as the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force) or face potential closure altogether. Without any timeframe for this, I have to make immediate decisions about my mental health treatment since my Persad therapist is the only LGBTQ competent, EMDR certified provider in the region. It is unconscionable for Persad management to keep us in the dark – they know these constraints because I argue with them all of the time about the caseload issues in trying to access the appropriate number of therapy sessions I need. They know Plan B for those of us receiving trauma processing care is basically – nothing.

Allies notified their donors about this potential change in a letter dated November 26, 2019. Note this was before the Persad staff voted to unionize this past week. I don’t know why Allies would mention a collaboration that might involve shared programming unless they are building up to the potential for a merger.

The boards and executives of Allies and Persad have been talking about ways that we could better serve our community, increase our financial sustainability and maximize our resources. There are a number of possibilities to look at, from delivering services in each other’s space, to shared programming, up to and including some sort of merger.

Below that, I posted the most recent fundraising letter from Persad Board Chair and Delta Foundation Board member, Marty Healey. I’ve reached out to Persad and Allies for comment. I’m also shocked Persad has capacity to launch an IOP given the onerous caseloads of the current clinical staff and the lengthy waiting list.

Compare the letters for yourself and if you plan to make a year-end gift to Persad, maybe call Persad to ask about this truth bomb? Persad has allegedly sent an email to some donors, but not all and to no clients who are not also donors.

Allies may be a fine org, but losing LGBTQ control of our 47 year legacy is a very bad thing. Getting MH services from allies of any stripe is vastly different from being in a queer space for services. We the LGBTQ community deserve a lot of information and very soon.

I’ve been simplifying my relationship with Persad to just being a client. I terminated the fiscal sponsorship relationship, stopped fundraising, and no longer attend community events – all to preserve the sanctity and integrity of my mental health care. I can’t find the words to describe the chill in my heart at the prospect of losing our LGBTQ control of this vital service. I am also disgusted that clients (aka patients) are not among the first to know this is even on the table – this is about our lives.

Given Persad’s historical and recent conduct, is anyone really shocked? We’ll have more on this later. In the meantime, I urge you to contact both organizations and demand immediate public disclosure of their plans as well as scheduling public meetings in the immediate future to get community feedback.

What will it take to keep Persad Center in the control of the LGBTQ community?

Carlos Torres, Persad Center – ctorres@persadcenter.org
Marty Healey, Persad Center – board@persadcenter.org
Sean DeYoung, Allies – sdeyoung@alliespgh.org


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Subject: News from Allies for Health + Wellbeing
Reply-To: Sean DeYoung <sdeyoung@alliespgh.org>
Dear Allies,

Over the past 34 years, Allies has strived to provide the best care and support for individuals living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS. We started with an information hotline, legal assistance, HIV education and testing, and practical and emotional support for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. But over the years we have changed and expanded to meet the changing needs of our community. Today, Allies provides integrated medical care, supportive human service and community-based education for those living with or at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infection.

Tomorrow we want to do more. We believe that increasing our capacity to provide integrated care is our path to continued success. We are always looking for ways to better serve the community, which includes investigating potential strategic partnerships. Persad Center, which has a 48-year history of providing behavioral health, programs, community education, and support for the LGBTQ+ community is an obvious potential partner and we are currently looking into ways that we could collaborate with them.

The boards and executives of Allies and Persad have been talking about ways that we could better serve our community, increase our financial sustainability and maximize our resources. There are a number of possibilities to look at, from delivering services in each other’s space, to shared programming, up to and including some sort of merger.

We truly believe that a partnership will provide both organizations with the opportunity to expand (and therefore serve more people), enhance the sustainability of our organizations, and further our missions. We are in the preliminary phases of simply investigating what type of partnership, if any, makes sense. We anticipate that the investigatory phase will take several weeks to months, and we are not in any rush to make decisions. We are going to be thoughtful, strategic, and considerate of all our stakeholders, including our clients and the communities we serve, other possible consumers, staff, funders and donors.

We want to assure you that we see this as an opportunity for expansion – not contraction. We are committed to being transparent during this process, and we will keep you informed as we progress.

As we begin 2020, we will continue to provide quality services for our consumers and the greater community and keep moving forward together. Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,
Sean DeYoung
CEO, Allies for Health + Wellbeing

Persad Fundraising Letter

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