January 5, 2011
Hartford's Tabor House is celebrating 20 years of providing refuge and support to homeless men with HIV/AIDS. Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph, Tabor House has two locations -- one on Brownell Avenue in the city's Frog Hollow neighborhood and the other on Maple Avenue.
Sister Anne Kane, Tabor House's director, said the organization's early days were spent providing comfort and dignity to its residents. "In the beginning, they literally came to die," she said. "We tried to provide an atmosphere of peace. Convalescent homes weren't taking them in and their families were afraid. These people were shunned; they had no place to go."
Thanks to advances in HIV/AIDS treatment, the focus has changed. Tabor House now helps maintain residents' health by offering treatment, behavioral group therapy, substance abuse referrals, and case manager support. Residents are encouraged to return to school or learn a trade, but they set their own goals.
Tabor House's aim is to have clients leave the house and successfully re-enter society. But this can take years to accomplish, and no one is sent away before they are ready. "Now a happy ending is they move out," said Kane.
Chris Ryan said his goal when he was accepted into Tabor House was to get counseling, save money, and restore his health. He accomplished that in two years and has been living on his own for three years. He works for a Hartford-area property management company and remains drug-free. "Once you get healthy, you have to go to the next step," he said. "They can only do so much for you."