The Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) introduced its new executive director to the community on Friday, and announced its plans to continue offering services and support to Santa Barbara residents suffering from HIV/AIDS.
The foundation, which offers services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of Santa Barbara County afflicted with HIV/AIDS, held an open house to honor David Selberg as he takes over as the organization’s executive director. Local residents, clients, employees and volunteers attended the event at the organization’s East Haley Street offices and discussed the foundation’s current goals and services.
Selberg said he volunteered to take over leadership of the foundation, which relies on donations from community members for support. Because PPF has experienced financial difficulties lately, Selberg said his goal is to make sure the organization has enough money to operate.
“I believe in the cause,” Selberg said. “I believe passionately in the work we do and didn’t want it to be lost.”
Buck Derrington, director of education and prevention, said PPF wanted a chance to reconnect with the community and introduce local residents to Selberg.
“Our goal is to reintroduce ourselves to the community,” Derrington said. “A lot of positive changes are happening. We wanted to get reacquainted with our clients and our allies.”
Hathor Hammet, one of several community members who attended the open house, said he also volunteers for PPF and is relieved to see a change in the foundation’s leadership.
“I’m extremely happy that David Selberg is taking over this agency,” Hammett said. “He’s a guy who is good at getting things done.”
Derrington said PPF is an organization that provides Santa Barbara with information about HIV and AIDS. The group also conducts free and confidential testing.
“Our goal is to get people tested and find out they’re positive before they get sick or have a medical crisis, because by then it’s often too late,” Derrington said.
The foundation also offers a syringe exchange that allows injection drug users to turn used needles in to PPF officials in exchange for new, sterile ones, thereby decreasing the risk of the spread of the disease.
PPF also manages a food pantry for people living with or affected by HIV. PPF Director of Grants and Foundation Management Jerry Schwartz said the pantry serves many low-income clients and is stocked with easily digestible food, since many HIV medications sometimes make digestion difficult.
“Many of our clients were coming to us and saying that one of their biggest problems was simply day-to-day living, and we wanted to provide a solution to that,” Schwartz said.
Derrington said PPF is dedicated to continuing its work in the community because of the people the foundation helps. He said he often hears stories from people whose lives have been changed by the foundation.
“It’s those kinds of stories that we hear that energize us to keep going,” Derrington said.