If it’s June, it must be Pride.

June has become recognized across the country as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Evolving out of the Stonewall riots in New York in the late 1960s and the subsequent gay pride marches of the 1970s, Pride Month started to gain traction across the globe.

Most major metropolitan cities around the world recognize and celebrate the month — San Antonio being no exception.

Pride Day is celebrated to commemorate the landmark Stonewall event – in San Antonio, it is marked with the annual Pride Parade on Main Street. One of the main partners of the annual festivity is the San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF), one of the area’s largest LGBTQ+ advocates.

Developing out of the AIDS epidemic that gripped our country in the 1980s, SAAF’s mission has continued to evolve to better serve the Bexar County region. 

“Our focus is on sexual health, in general, specifically HIV, [sexually transmitted infections], and their prevention, as well as treatment of those individuals who have those infections,” said Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, SAAF CEO. “We provide not just the education on prevention, but we provide wraparound services for individuals that have HIV.”

They offer a clinic, clinical care, a pharmacy, housing and meal support, case management, and serve as a conduit to services offered by other agencies in the area. They were created in 1986 to serve as a hospice resource for people suffering through the last stages of life in their battle with AIDS, so at least they wouldn’t go through these struggles completely alone.

“We were a residential care facility until 2015. By that point, the number of people who needed that type of care was smaller as more were able to live with HIV thanks to new medications,” Rohr-Allegrini shared. “To stay in that state, you must be on these medications forever, so we evolved at that point to ensure that people had access to the medicines. Our role now is to help people live and thrive with HIV, as well as we educate the community about prevention.”

The San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn) has long been a partner of SAAF, going back to the 1990s. The partnership has done great work to foster trust and goodwill in the LGBTQ+ community. Area Foundation has helped fill gaps in SAAF’s governmental funding.

The partnership has also allowed Rohr-Allegrini and her staff to participate in training programs that have proven invaluable.

“Believe it or not, we still have a long way to go before LGBTQ+ communities are fully valued and supported in our home community and across the nation,” explained Andrea Figueroa, Area Foundation Senior Program Officer for Youth Success. “It’s important for the Area Foundation to be an ally and support inclusion of the community that we serve. On a personal level, they’re important for me and my family and their contribution to the city.”

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Thanks to its evolution, SAAF is more valuable to the community than ever. It is recognized as a true advocate and support system for San Antonio. As it approaches four decades of service to the community, SAAF’s relevancy has remained steadfast and strong.

“There are still many people in our community living with HIV or AIDS,” Figueroa noted. “They’re part of our community, they’re our neighbors, and they deserve our care and compassion. The San Antonio AIDS Foundation is the community partner when it comes to this population and we at the Area Foundation are extremely appreciative that they exist and are still working for our entire community.”

Interested in helping the Area Foundation’s work to support hundreds of nonprofits like SAAF? Everyone can do their part. Click here to learn how you can contribute to our various impact funds.

Eric Moreno is a contributor to the San Antonio Area Foundation Storytelling Ambassador Network.