Happy New Year from all of us at Project Lazarus!
2021 year has been a year filled with transition, change, and loss for our Project Lazarus community. We still mourn the passing of our beloved Executive Director Steve Rivera who left us so unexpectedly in January; we continue to adjust our services to a changing funding landscape, and we are recovering from the damages wrought by Hurricane Ida. Despite all these challenges, the need for our services continues unabated and we have been filled to capacity for a while.
One thing we have always been able to count on is YOUR unwavering faith in our work — to heal and empower people living with HIV.
Thank you for your being such a meaningful part of our community this year, and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year. It is not too late to make a tax-deductible donation for this year.
The staff members have truly come together to ensure that our residents receive the best care possible. We have welcomed a few new staff members this year who have been instrumental to the success of the organization.
Executive Director, Susanne Dietzel, started at Project Lazarus in May. Her values of social responsibility, empathy, and service truly align with the mission of Project Lazarus. We are thrilled that she joined our team as she strives toward creating a more just and equitable society while moving Project Lazarus forward.
Robyn Moffett, our new Administrative Assistant, has been an incredible addition to the organization. She has gone above and beyond to keep everything running smoothly and is an extremely hard worker. Her passion for social justice is evident in her work ethic, and we are so grateful that she has joined us.
Clinical Director, Hamilton Cerrone, and Lead Case Manager, Chantel Hunter, have done a wonderful job implementing the new Clinical Program which focuses on working toward independent living while taking a therapeutic approach to mental health issues and substance use. Carol Oliver, our Facilities Manager, has worked hard on maintaining our grounds while also keeping the residents involved and active in the upkeep of their home. This was especially helpful after the property was damaged by Hurricane Ida.
Our Direct Support Personnel (DSPs) keep the organization open and running 24/7, and are incredible mentors for the residents. Ms. Hope and Ms. Shirley graciously sheltered in place with all of the residents during Hurricane Ida, and helped them evacuate to Acadiana Cares in Lafayette afterwards. All of our DSPs have continuously shown up for the residents when they need them most, and truly keep the organization running.
The residents are the heart of our organization, and this year each and every one of them deserves to be recognized for the work they have put into themselves and their goals of independent living after Lazarus. Currently, all of our residents participate in daily substance use and mental health group therapy, while also working individually toward their goals. All of our residents have seen a decrease in their HIV viral load since moving into Project Lazarus, and regularly attend appointments to maintain their physical health.
One of our current residents, Morris, spoke to us about his experiences at Lazarus. “I can be myself and I learn something new every day. I’ve realized that I’ve spent a lot of my life hiding. Being gay, black, and HIV positive, it’s hard to feel safe opening up. Project Lazarus is a safe space where I can grow and heal.”
Project Lazarus will continue to be a safe haven and home for people like Morris, who need a place to call home, recover their health, and be connected to vital resources and housing.
Thank you to our volunteers!
Each year, Project Lazarus is lucky enough to have amazing volunteers come to the organization daily. Due to the everchanging pandemic, we have had to adapt our volunteer program to keep all residents and staff safe. Loyola University sends about ten Service Learners our way each semester through the Office of Community Engaged Learning and Teaching. This year, we also formed a relationship with the CPS Office at Tulane, and were fortunate to have two interns over the summer. We are so grateful for the incredible volunteers who have stuck with us through these changes to keep the community COVID free.
We would like to highlight Jeff Guillory, a dedicated volunteer who has consistently shown up for the staff and residents at Project Lazarus over the past couple of months. Jeff continuously goes above and beyond for the organization, whether he is helping the staff with administrative tasks or sharing with the residents about his own experiences.