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U.S. News

California: HIV/AIDS Organization Set to Open New Location Sept. 22

September 12, 2008

On Sept. 22, the HIV/AIDS organization Vital Life Services (VLS) is set to open in its new location on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland. Staffers and work crews are making last-minute preparations to ready the commercial storefront in North Oakland, near the Emeryville border, for a private fundraising event this Saturday.

The site, home to the former Your Black Muslim Bakery, has been completely remodeled with the VLS client base in mind. Though it is a bit smaller than the organization's former home on Shattuck Avenue, the new location is close to transit. VLS serves some 500 clients, providing meals, acupuncture, massage, housing assistance, and utility assistance.

The first floor has private rooms for counseling and case managers' meetings with clients. The open kitchen is separated from the main room by a long granite countertop and features state-of-the-art industrial appliances. "I'm most excited about my double oven," said chef Morris Clark. "It's the best job I ever had. I'm a people person and I'm doing something for people."

Kurt Zimmerman, a founder of VLS, formerly known as the Center for AIDS Services, formed a partnership to purchase the property during a bankruptcy trustee sale last December. His company, RN Field Construction, did the building's extensive renovation. The bakery, which opened in the early 1970s, served the African-American community for many years before a sex abuse scandal and other legal problems resulted in the organization's financial ruin.

"For many years the bakery and this building served the community well, before falling into disgrace," said Zimmerman. "The building has been crying out to serve the community again."

Back to other news for September 2008

Adapted from:
Contra Costa Times
09.09.2008; Cecily Burt

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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