Open Letter to GMHC Community
May 11, 2010
For the first 25 years, the GMHC Mission Statement stated that:
"Gay Men's Health Crisis is a not-for-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based organization committed to local and national leadership in the fight against AIDS. Our mission is to reduce the spread of HIV disease, help people with HIV maintain and improve their health and independence, and keep the prevention, treatment and cure of HIV an urgent national and local priority. In fulfilling this mission, we will remain true to our heritage by fighting homophobia and affirming the individual dignity of all gay men and lesbians."
On December 1, 2009, without any input from clients, volunteers, community or the CAB, the Board changed the GMHC Mission Statement to:
"GMHC fights to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected."
This deletion of any specific mention of services to clients is now being followed with an impending move to another building. The lease for this new building has restrictions which would result in a severe reduction in precisely those services that most directly effect people's health and quality of life. Gone will be the full service kitchen and cafeteria with its special atmosphere, where 300 clients have hot meals prepared by caring professional chefs and staff served daily. Friday night dinner will be completely eliminated. Gone also will be HIV testing in the building. Gone will be the clinic downstairs. And gone will be the common entrance for staff, clients and visitors. HIV clients will be stigmatized, obliged to use a single elevator at a side entrance segregated from other users of the building. With these changes, we are witnessing a radical reduction in critical services and a drastic change in GMHC's original mission.
In fulfilling its mission of advocating for clients, the CAB has offered suggestions to GMHC, from buying a building to trying to acquire a building with the aid of government agencies, private foundations, or philanthropic entities such as those that helped create GMHC at its inception. We now know that none of these alternatives was investigated and that the only option the Board's real estate committee considered in the last 2 years was finding a building rental. Four potential buildings were found, but three were withdrawn, and now the Board is presenting us with a single building with its intolerable usage restrictions in the lease, while no input from the main stake holders, the GMHC clients themselves, was ever considered or even sought.
We believe that until all options are explored and proper due diligence conducted, signing a lease for this building with its severely diminished capacity for accommodating core services is a violation 6f the GMHC Board's fiduciary obligation and inimical to our critical needs.
The further downside of settling for the proposed building will be the hemorrhaging of clients as they obtain missing services elsewhere. This in turn will result in loss of funding and further decline in the capacity to support clients and to raise adequate funds for an appropriate building in the future. This loss of clients and revenues will also damage GMHC's image, prestige and influence, and thereby result in a further decline in funding and ability to pay rent let alone secure an appropriate building in the future. On all accounts, leasing this building and locking us into this contract is contrary to the interests of GMHC Clients and to the viability and future of GMHC itself and should therefore be averted.
We urge you therefore to voice your protest and concerns regarding this impending lease and its detrimental implications directly to the GMHC Board of Directors as well as GMHC administration.
Write, phone and/or email To: (note: a written letter is the most effective and important)
GMHC Board of Directors - Address: 119 W 24 St 9th t1 NY, NY 10011 (no phone or email available)
Odell Mays, II, Co-Chair
GMHC Administration - Address: 119 W 24 St 9th t1 NY, NY 10011
Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D. - Chief Executive Officer, GMHC
Janet Weinberg - Chief Operating Officer, GMHC
This article was provided by GMHC Consumer Advisory Board.