Advocacy
1 min

A family away from home at ACAS

ACAS needs your help

Kenneth Poon has worked with the Asian Community AIDS Service since 2011 Credit: ACAS

Xtra Spark profiles current activism in our communities. This article stems from a partnership between Xtra Spark and ACAS (Asian Community AIDS Services) in which we are supporting their organization with targeted media coverage that gives our readership pathways to take action.

Toronto’s Asian Community AIDS Service is a staple to the people it serves. ACAS strives to provide holistic, comprehensive help to those in the Asian-Canadian community who, in some way or another, have had their lives shaped by HIV.  With its participation in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge coming up on Oct 18, 2015, ACAS hopes to remind people that the support it offers is vital and that many people rely on the services it provides.

Kenneth Poon has been working with ACAS for the past four years as a health promotion worker. Having lived with HIV for almost 30 years, he’s experienced first-hand the long-term effects of the disease, including the loss of his vision and having spent years in hospice and long-term care. Poon has made it a priority to improve the quality of life of others that suffer from HIV.

Unlike his colleague Andrew Miao, who deals directly with ACAS clients, Poon works behind the scenes to ensure the people who come to ACAS receive the best possible care. He scouts for massage therapists, acupuncturists and other holistic healthcare providers to volunteer at ACAS, providing much-needed, hands-on care.

He also works to find qualified, culturally educated presenters to run workshops at ACAS, making sure the various needs of its clientele are satisfied. Organizing educational workshops tailored to the Asian-Canadian community is crucial to the work ACAS does.

“For every workshop, we ask for evaluations from our participants and our feedback is phenomenal,” he says. “They gain something from the workshops: they gain knowledge, which they can exchange with others, allowing for peer support.”

This sense of community, of each person helping one another, is a key part of how ACAS operates. “When you walk into our office, it’s like a family away from home,” he explains.

But ACAS needs your help to keep providing these services. The funding it receives from the government is shrinking. That’s why ACAS is taking part in the ScotiaBank Charity Challenge on Oct 18.