History

In 1986 a task force, comprised of members from the Guelph Correctional Centre, University of Guelph, The Ministerial Association, The Gay and Lesbian Community, Stonehenge Drug Treatment Centre, and Concerned Citizens, met to evaluate the need of a local committee focussed solely on HIV/AIDS. Without hesitation, the task group deemed an AIDS Committee a necessity in order to provide education and support services to members of their community affected by HIV/AIDS. With that, the AIDS Committee of Guelph was underway in dramatically improving the lives of not only those affected by the disease, but the citizens of Guelph and Wellington at large.

To get the ball rolling, an inaugural Annual General Meeting was held in 1987, involving the selection of fourteen members from the community to create the volunteer board of directors. With a start-up grant provided by The United Way, this newly formed community-based organization began meeting at 72 Delhi Street in office space that had been graciously provided by the Guelph General Hospital.

The following year, the volunteer board was reorganized into a governing board, with funding for a full time executive director and a part time clerical position given by the Ontario Ministry of Health. Judith Tresidder was elected as the first executive director of ACG. In 1989, the United Way Community Services of Guelph & Wellington afforded funds for a support program to be initiated – this program, with continued funding from the United Way, has continued to this day. Four more positions within ACG were established. Funds from the Trillium Foundation allowed for a part-time volunteer coordinator; a three-year grant established by Health and Welfare Canada provided a full-time education coordinator position; and funds from the Ontario Ministry of Health produced full-time positions of administrative assistant and support coordinator.

A movement of office space occurred in 1993, when ACG began to call 265 Woolwich Street home. Other minor changes occurred at this time, with the education coordinator’s title changing to “health promotion” coordinator, via the recommendation of Health Canada. Unfortunately, the volunteer coordinator position was facing potential demise as it approached the conclusion of the Trillium Foundation funding. Fortuitously, The Ontario Ministry of Health stepped in to provide core funding that would allow for the position to continue on a part-time basis.

Between 1996 and 2004, as a result of inconsistent funding, coupled with increasing rental rates, the organization was relocated a number of times causing unnecessary strain on the organization. Furthermore, in 2004 there was no longer funding for ACG’s community education. Not to be easily dissuaded, the members of ACG continued their hard work to follow the organization’s mission statement and fulfill their commitments to the community.

In 2005, ACG’s effort and perseverance paid off in spades. The Committee settled into new, spacious quarters at its current residence on 409 Woolwich Street, to share space with the (proposed) regional HIV clinic. This clinic is the first step and a major component of the Masai Centre for Local, Regional and Global Health – a non-profit organization founded by Guelph’s HIV specialist, Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik. In March of 2005, The Masai Clinic received primary funding from the AIDS Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, with ACG becoming the sponsor agency. The Clinic and Agency now collaborate to optimize the care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS and others affected by the disease. This new model offers treatment and care that is integrated with ACG and synchronized with other community service providers. The Masai Clinic has a “Community Advisory Committee” comprised of members from the three regions it serves: Kitchener/Waterloo, Wellington/Dufferin and Grey/Bruce Counties. In late 2005, ACG regained funding for community education and furthered its catchment area to include Grey Bruce County, where it played a support services role for people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) who had previously not been afforded any assistance or support.

In partnership with the Community Links and Evaluation Research Unit at McMaster University, 2005 had ACG working on a pilot research project to measure the impact of integrating an AIDS service organization (ASO) with an HIV Clinic on quality of life. In addition, the partnership examined which case management model, pro-active versus self-directed, would work best as an efficient means of treating PHAs. With this study underway, ACG and The Masai Centre are congratulated on their work, and present their new holistic model of care at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

In 2008, ACG began addressing the housing situation for people living with HIV and AIDS in Guelph and Wellington. ACG recognized housing as one of the greatest unmet needs of PHAs, and subsequently formed new partnerships resulting in the development of Abercrombie Place, a four bedroom, furnished townhouse that provides extra care for the residents, including an on-site support worker. This promising new project creates hope of future replications and demonstrates the continued exemplary care provided by the AIDS Committee of Guelph. In April of 2008 ACG received time limited funding for a Positive Prevention Coordinator through the Public Health Agency of Canada. In acknowledging ACG's history, "20 Years Gone By" was created. This is an archived history of interviews, photographs and articles all encapsulated onto a 3 disc set.

2009 brought forth a project to enhance a regional response to HIV and AIDS in the Waterloo/Wellington Region, ACG and the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA) embarked on a strategy to strengthen their existing partnerships. With an increase to core funding through the AIDS Bureau, ACG received funding for an HIV IDU Outreach Worker. It was decided that this position would be shared with ACCKWA one day a week to assist with their outreach initiatives in the city of Cambridge. In return, ACCKWA's new African Caribbean Strategy Worker would provide services at ACG one day a week.

In 2009, a new "Community Impact Plan" was developed to assist ACG in finding new innovative ways to respond to community needs. Through the involvement of a wide range of community stakeholders a new bold vision was created.

In 2011 the AIDS Committee Guelph and the Masai Centre moved to its new location at 89 Dawson Road (Units 115 and 113). The main stimulus for the move was to ensure compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This important piece of legislation requires our sector (among others) to identify, remove and enforce mandatory accessibility standards. The move also allows us to carry out our operations openly, accessibly and respectfully which are in line with our organizational values. It is very important to participants, staff and board members that ACG and the Masai Clinic continue to be located under one roof to provide the best support to participants and to maintain our unique and collaborative relationship. With the recent introduction of new programs that address our community needs, we are in need of redesigned space to accommodate new staff members.

With the upcoming 25th anniversary of the ACG came an opportunity to reflect on ACG's work and community involvement. It became evident that the scope and reach of ACG's work has expanded considerably, both in geographic scope and the kinds of programming. This was identified as a natural opportunity to rebrand the organization to address the changes and challenges in serving the HIV/AIDS communities and at-risk populations.

In 2014 we commemorated our 25th anniversary, acknowledging and celebrating the changes that we have made and are proudly announced that the AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington and the Masai Clinic have a new name and will now be operating under the same umbrella as ARCH: HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health.

All services will remain the same as previously offered. Simplicity and accessibility were the two principles that guided our rebranding project – the acronym ARCH flowed naturally from the new name and there was added symbolism with this choice. An arch is symbolic of strength and stability and implies open doors/acceptance.

While the new name encompasses the growing programs and services covered under ARCH, the overall rebrand still serves to address the changes and challenges in working with the HIV/AIDS community and at-risk populations.  Our new name now also includes “HIV” which reflects a significant change. “Resources and Community Health” speaks to the variety of support, education, prevention, treatment and community development programs we are passionate about providing, including addressing risk factors for HIV such as homophobia and empowering people living with HIV to prevent transmission.

In 2015, ARCH experienced transition with two of its programs; the POSSE Project based in the Halton Region relocated to another banking transfer agency as a result of loss of funding. Abercrombie Place, our Housing Program ended and the unit reverted back under the management of Matrix Affordable Homes. The highlight of 2015 included the beginning Transgender Health services through the ARCH Clinic including preventative healthcare (annual physicals, immunizations, testing and screening) and hormonal treatment options.

Looking forward to 2016, ARCH revised its Mission and Vision Statements, serving as a compass for the newly released Strategic Plan: Leading the Change 2016-2021.  With and understanding of the expanding needs of our clients, organizational resources and desire to lead the change in our community has informed our strategic directions.

In 2017, ARCH received a community grant from Gilead for a pilot project titled, Sustainable Health - HIV Patient Engagement Pilot Project. The concept was driven out of a need defined by an aging cohort, and a cohort that has rapidly expanded to capacity over the last decade.  The Project will achieve higher levels of engagement and retention in health care by addressing holistically; physical health.

Recent changes at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) funding structures to AIDS Service Organizations included the end of the AIDS Community Action Program and the introduction of the new HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund (CAF). 

As a result, we witnessed several program changes. One change included the launch of a new Trans Peer Training Initiative (TPTI)  Staff trained in Motivational Interviewing(MI) partnered with transgender community leaders to tailor and pilot the MI Talk intervention for transgender peer-to-peer support. The TPTI uses MI to explore self-esteem, healthy relationships, attitudes, and beliefs related to testing, perception of sexual risk and testing behaviour, as well as strategies to navigate barriers to mental health, health care, and social services.

Although we were successful in obtaining a five year grant, ARCH received a reduction in the funding allocation compared to previous years. Therefore some existing PHAC programs activities came to an end in March, 2017. To assist in this process we did receive one time funding to assist in wrapping up some of the project activities.

ARCH collaborated with Sanguen Health Centre and was successful in obtaining a two year grant through the Ontario Trillium Foundation to launch a Street Health Van to enhance our harm reduction response to communities most at-risk within Guelph and Wellington County.

Leading the Change is the theme of ARCH’s Strategic Plan. In leading the change in our community, ARCH will improve health and well-being of populations most affected by HIV/AIDS through the use of an integrative approach to HIV, STBBIs and Hepatitis C prevention, testing, treatment, care and support as they relate to priority populations. ARCH commits to focusing on the physical, mental, sexual and emotional health of populations who are most at-risk while working to prevent new infections and ensuring that clients are engaged in care.

  1. INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY:  Strengthen and expand collaborations and communication to diverse communities and stakeholders. Engage in dialogue related to community needs and celebrate successes.
  2. MODEL EXCELLENCE:  Deliver evidence-based, culturally specific, efficient and effective programs. Provide an organizational culture that promotes self-care, resiliency and quality care.
  3. STOP STIGMA:  Eradicate stigma associated with HIV. Address factors which lead to HIV stigma and other barriers around HIV testing and disclosure.
  4. LEADING THE CHANGE: Through leadership broaden services to foster holistic health care and prevent new HIV, STBBIs and Hepatitis C infections.*

Mission: We provide anti-oppressive, sex-positive, inclusive care, treatment and prevention services in the area of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted blood-borne infections through innovative health promotion strategies and community engagement. 

Vision Statement: We dream of a time and place where everyone is free to live healthy, stigma-free, vital lives.

Guiding Principles: What We Value and How We Work: Greater and more meaningful engagement of people who live with HIV/AIDS • Harm reduction-based • Anti-oppressive • Inclusive • Respectful • Caring • Accepting • Passionate and committed • Accountable • Accessible • Sex-positive • Client-centered • Evidence- based • Strength-based • Self-determination • Flexible 

 

 

 

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