We Watched Paint Dry, and We Enjoyed It!

Two painters in front of newly painted wall

Heather and French gets the job done!

Next time you visit the AHP Services Center take a look around. Where are the scuff marks at the base of the walls, the dings in their finish? Where are the old colors? The answers are in the paint—enough of it, that is, to cover the walls of the 4,600-square-foot AHP Services Center. Join us in thanking the Cummings Foundation whose $100,000 capital improvements grant made it all possible!

“It’s challenging to find funders who understand the tremendous need for building maintenance,” said Lori Thoemmes, LMFT, AHP’s Director, referring not only to the repainting of a building last painted in 1997, but also to Part 2 of the funding, repairing the center’s equally aged HVAC system. “These long-overdue projects have a big impact on the lives of our clients, volunteers, and staff.”

The physical environment of health care facilities can affect client health outcomes. A clean, well-maintained, well-heated and -cooled environment contributes to feelings of safety and trust. AHP has been sure to make design and building choices that create an environment that fosters comfort and calm among our clients as they confront the range of psychosocial challenges that brought them to AHP. Richly colored, strategically placed “accent” walls stand out from off-white walls combining together to soothe clients and staff and working with us as we seek to restore wellness.

When a client walks into the AHP Services Center, they feel welcomed, not just by cheerful reception staff but also by the bright, warm setting. This is particularly important since many of our clients face stigma and discrimination, including by health care providers, for a range of marginalizing identities or situations: living with HIV, being LGBTQ, being a person of color, being gender non-conforming, having low incomes, using drugs or alcohol in ways that interfere with their other capacities, or struggling with mental health problems.

Since the repainting, “I’ve heard from so many clients that the services center looks great,” said Michelanne Baker, PsyD, an AHP psychologist and supervisor. She should know; as the coordinator of AHP’s clinical traineeship program, Baker hears from and about many of our clients.

“The painting crew was really easy to work with and very cooperative,” said Christopher Hall, AHP’s Operations Coordinator, referring to Heather and French, a local lesbian-owned painting company. “Their staff worked hard to minimize disruption to clinical operations,” which meant that clients could continue through the process to depend on AHP for their support groups like Strong and Proud, Living and Thriving With HIV, and Trans Support Group or substance use counseling, or an HIV test. And now those scuffs and dings won’t interfere with our goals to create a welcoming place for all who rely on AHP. We can only hope the process of repairing and replacing the HVAC will go as smoothly.