Letter from the CEO

Dear Harlem United Family,

This has been a difficult time, there’s no way around it. In May, we lost a dear colleague and friend, Wilhelmina Blanch. The loss of a beloved member of the Harlem United family would have been hard to bear under any circumstances, but the suddenness of her passing has been heartbreaking. Our thoughts are with her loved ones in this sad moment of grief. We will miss her dearly.

2020 has been a year of strong emotions: first anxiety, then sadness, and now, anger too. We begin June 2020, LGBTQ Pride month, against the backdrop of 12 weeks’ of working from home due to Covid-19, national unrest and protests to decry police brutality.

We grieve and are outraged by the ongoing police brutality against Black people; we remember all who have been terrorized and murdered – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and those who came before them. We stand in solidarity with our Harlem United colleagues, family, and friends who are people of color, knowing that this time has been especially painful and stressful.

At Harlem United, we know that the movement for Black lives and the movement for LGBTQ rights are necessarily and deeply connected. This is nothing new. For the last 30 years, Harlem United has worked tirelessly to address inequalities in healthcare, housing, and social services for communities of color without barriers of discrimination, racism, homophobia or transphobia.

In line with our harm reduction philosophy, where we build towards positive change in all aspects of our health, we invite you to follow us on social media, where we’re sharing safety tips for protesters, resources on antiracism, and wellness posts, alongside our vision for a healthier, more just future for the communities of color whom we serve and for us all.

This Pride month, we somberly remember our 1980s roots as an AIDS service provider in the epidemic, at a time when few providers cared about the lives of LGBTQ people of color. We carry on that legacy today, providing not only HIV treatment and prevention, but now offering housing, healthcare, and supportive services in a culturally affirmative, trauma-informed approach to underserved communities.

Again and again, I want to thank each and every one of our staff members for showing up and doing the work that has to be done as providers of essential services. It’s not easy, but our clients depend on us and you have all made Harlem United proud. Together, we shine with pride: in where we have come from, and where we will reach, as we continue to work hard, building a future that shines with equal access for all.

In Solidarity and Strength,

Jacqui Kilmer
CEO