Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana Receives $2.5 million SAMHSA Grant

Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana was recently awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This grant, which beings on September 30, 2019, focuses on helping people living with, or at a high risk of, contracting HIV.

“The Journey” program will provide healthcare navigation to those individuals who have been identified as being at high risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases or currently are living with HIV and have a substance use disorder . The program will help many populations including African American men and women with a substance use disorder, men who have had sexual relations with other men with a substance use disorder, and existing HIV positive individuals with a substance use disorder. This grant will operate in all 16-parishes that Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana currently serves and will provide group and individual counseling sessions along with HIV/STD testing and health navigation follow-up.

“The Journey” program will provide minority populations in our community with additional behavioral health services,” said Aimee Starnes, Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana’s Program Manager. “This includes wraparound support services and a warm hand-off to access other community resources for a more comprehensive care approach.”

The program’s goals are wide reaching including to reduce the number of new HIV infections in our region, increase access to care and health outcomes, and reduce HIV related disparities and health inequalities. This health navigation allows the agency to follow the consumer into treatment or direct them to the proper resources to get them needed services. Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana is working with a third-party data collection company to analyze the data collected. All confidential results will be reported to an internal auditor for proper checks and balances.

“I am proud of all the work that Volunteers of America has done so far in regards to serving those persons living with HIV/AIDS,” said Jim LeBlanc, Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana President and CEO. “We hope to continue to make positive strides by providing this wraparound care service to this vulnerable population.”

Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana plans to serve 65 individuals in the first and second years and then an additional 75 people each year afterwards. The six-member team will have offices on both the south and north shores of Lake Pontchartrain. For information, contact Aimee Starnes at (985) 612-1060 or astarnes@voasela.org