Everyone needs to eat. Enter Kelly Smith, a Medical Case Manager at Choice Health Network, located on McCallie Ave in Downtown Chattanooga. She is charged with identifying HIV+ individuals in the community and assisting them (based on income eligibility) with the things most of us take for granted. When one of her newest clients revealed he ate a tablespoon of beans for breakfast that morning because he had to make sure his ration of a can of beans lasted him for the whole day Kelly upped her social work game. While she often buys clients dinner with funds out of her own pocket, she's a single mother and her funds are limited. Choice Health Network recently had to reduce their nutrition programming and had many clients struggling as a result.
Chattanooga may not realize it, but there many amongst us who live with HIV. Some are gay, some are straight, some are black, some are white, but all are human. While the virus is not as deadly as it used to be, thanks to outstanding leaps and bounds in medical advances, it can take its toll on an individual's ability to work a steady, full-time job. For those who are older, it is nearly impossible. Chattanooga is already so awesome, but we oftentimes easily forget about the homeless and the hungry while we go rock climbing, kayaking with the kids, enjoying an outdoor market or attend one of the many amazing eateries available to us in the city. After this somber reminder by Kelly, we awarded a full $3,000 grant, and have quadrupled their nutrition funds through next Spring.