Strut, SFAF’s new health center at 470 Castro Street. Photo: GCI General Contractors
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation announced Tuesday that it’s naming its men’s health center in the Castro Strut.
At the same time, SFAF, the city’s largest AIDS-related nonprofit, launched The Campaign for Health and Wellness to raise $2.8 million for the facility. The organization has been working to raise $15 million for programmatic expansion and renovation costs for the center, which is at 470 Castro Street and is expected to open in October. The agency has so far raised $12.2 million.
Strut is launching years later than expected. The nonprofit announced in October 2012 that it would combine many of its free services including sexual health, substance use and mental health, and community engagement at the space, which had housed a video store and offices. At the time, SFAF said it hoped to move into the space in October 2013
Over the years, officials have declined to say much about fundraising or other details.
Tom Perrault, who chairs the fundraising campaign and used to chair SFAF’s board, highlighted the work to find money and the nonprofit’s desire to stop the spread of HIV in the city in the group’s September 15 news release.
“We’re grateful for the campaign’s tremendous early momentum – a clear testament to the hunger that exists in our community to make San Francisco the first city to end HIV transmission,” Perrault said.
“Major donors and institutional partners really stepped up during the quiet phase, and we’re excited to invite the community to join us, help forge a groundbreaking new model and ensure the programs are fully funded for years to come,” he added.
AIDS foundation CEO Neil Giuliano, who recently announced that he’s leaving the agency, which has a budget of about $29 million, explained the center’s unusual name.
Community space at Strut. Photo: GCI General Contractors
“We knew we had tremendous responsibility to develop a new name as exciting as the innovative model it represents, especially considering the affection that exists in the community for our three program brands that will come together to form Strut,” Giuliano stated, referring to programs like Magnet, popular for its sexually-transmitted disease testing services, and Stonewall, known for providing mental health and substance abuse assistance, being combined at the center.
“Strut is celebratory, unique, a little quirky and memorable, just like San Francisco. That’s why it works – but at the end of the day, it’s not about the name, it’s about coming together to build a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community,” Giuliano said.
SFAF said that the new center will allow it to expand case management and mental health counseling by 25 percent each. Harm reduction counseling services will increase by 50 percent, and HIV and STD screening will go up as much as 40 percent.
Along with Magnet and Stonewall, the community-building and support programs Bridgemen and Positive Force will also be located at Strut.
Additionally, two of SFAF’s newest programs designed to help young, gay, and bisexual African American men – the DREAAM Project (Determined to Respect and Encourage African American Men), and men over 50 – the 50-Plus Network – will be housed at Strut.
Tim Patriarca, Strut’s executive director, said the center “is a revolutionary new model for San Francisco and one that addresses a clear need – I expect that we will get between a third and half of gay and bisexual men in San Francisco coming through the doors of Strut in the very first year. Co-locating our services in a beautiful, larger, central community space will help us serve even more people with the sexual health, substance use, mental health and community programs we are known for. With the opening of Strut, we absolutely have the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of so many people in our community.”
There are naming opportunities for major donors both inside the building and in program names.
For example, the 50-Plus Network is being renamed the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network after Taylor’s AIDS foundation made a five-year pledge to support and secure naming rights to seniors group.
Giuliano recently said his biggest disappointment during his tenure at the nonprofit involves the health center.
“I wish the center would have opened a year and a half ago,” he said in an August interview, and he and others “share the frustration” people have with it not being open yet.
The main cause for delay has been the center’s classification under Title 24 for California licensed health facilities.
Needed changes included making baseboards in rooms with a water supply six inches tall instead of four inches, Giuliano said.
Despite the delays, he expressed optimism for 470 Castro.
“It really is going to be a place for holistic health and wellness for the community,” he said. “I realize it’s taking longer than we wanted it to take, but it’s going to be worth the wait.”
Giuliano is becoming president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, a business organization focused on civic improvement initiatives. The Phoenix Business Journal has reported that he expects to start his new job in November.
More about the Strut name
In its news release, SFAF went to great lengths to explain the center’s name.
“It is both a verb meaning ‘to walk with pride and confidence,’ and also a noun referring to a beam that provides structural support,” the nonprofit said.
Heat, a creative agency based in San Francisco, developed the name for free. SFAF said the firm was guided by research, talking to community leaders, workshops with the nonprofit’s staff, and focus groups with clients and others.
The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, September 17 edition.