Ashley H. is the executive director of the Capital Area Phoenix Initiative, a non-profit start-up that addresses the overwhelming need in Baton Rouge for HIV/AIDs services. Ashley is currently employed by the Public Health Department as a Disease Intervention Specialist. Whenever a person tests positive for a disease, a specialist visits that person to follow up, conduct an interview, and refer him or her to an agency. With Baton Rouge being the city with the second highest ratio of people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, Ashley realized that the current agencies were overwhelmed. While she has been working at her current job, she is also studying for her PhD in Public Health at Waldon University, applying for funding for her non-profit, and completing the extensive application to qualify for non-profit status. As soon as she attains enough funding, Ashley plans on resigning from her current job and completely dedicating herself to starting the Capital Area Phoenix Initiative.
Ashley decided to start this non-profit because on a daily basis, she witnesses how challenging it is to navigate the medical system, especially with an isolating condition like HIV/AIDS. This non-profit will help clients apply for Medicaid, insurance, food stamps, and find counseling and support. Furthermore, Ashley is dedicated to educating the public about the prevention of HIV/AIDS as well, which differentiates her agency from others. Once Ashley finishes her certification for Medicaid at the end of November, she will be able to start taking referrals and working with clients.
Ashley plans on hiring six employees in the beginning to help her accomplish the tri-fold vision of her business: outreach and prevention, case management, and ultimately, a free clinic. Her goal is to open her doors on World AIDS day on Dec. 5th to offer free AIDS testing. Aside from applying for non-profit status, Ashley’s biggest challenge was finding a space for an office that would be located within a larger building so that clients could enter the building without fear of being noticed. Ashley is very proud that she found the perfect location after looking for quite a while.
With this loan, Ashley plans on buying office equipment and signs. Ashley’s motivation is unstoppable because “I want to be a better person and be more humble about helping others. That’s my goal in life. This infection could happen to anybody at any time. It doesn’t differentiate between race, age, or gender. My goal is to prevent more people from getting this.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.