Damien Ministries was founded in 1987 by Louis Tesconi to serve the poorest of the poor living with HIV and AIDS, as inspired by the life of the Blessed Father Damien. Damien spent many years on the island of Molokai caring for those with leprosy and helping them to live productive lives. Father Damien eventually contracted leprosy himself and died on Molokai.
In 1987, Damien Ministries, Inc., was comprised entirely of volunteers who lived in community with each other and those who were dying of AIDS. By 1996 the organization had hired a full-time, paid executive director and expanded services to include case managers, faith-based outreach, and a food bank.
The organization has grown from a small, volunteer-run endeavor to one of the most respected and well-known organizations in the District of Columbia. While our size and scope of programs have grown, the vision of Damien Ministries has stayed the same-a strong and passionate desire to reach out to the people who are living and dying with HIV and AIDS.
The Food Bank program is often the client's first introduction to our organization, whether it's through a referral from another agency or word of mouth spread from peers who have accessed our services in the past. Clients come in once a month to receive enough groceries to last up to 10 days (2 meals a day). This helps alleviate some of the financial burden clients struggle under trying to afford basic necessities like rent and food for their families on top of their medical bills and other expenses.
Medical Case Management
DamienMinistries also offers case management to PLWHA. Once under our case management, our three case managers work closely with an individual to develop a case plan, including steps that need to be taken in order to meet the needs of the client. Through our services a client has access to emergency services, help obtaining relevant benefits, referrals to other organizations that offer services we may not, and help securing permanent housing. We help many clients who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless with obtaining permanent, secure housing.
Medical Nutritional Therapy
The primary goal is to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) assessment and counseling services for Damien Ministries' food pantry and case management client population.As the newest program at Damien Ministries, Medical Nutrition Therapy effectively responds to the Nutritional Support Needs of PLWHA in our client population.This program supports existing programs with the goal of increasing the availability of healthy food as well as low-sodium products, all of which will promote better eating habits and health outcomes related to good nutrition. A registered dietician will be available to perform nutritional assessments, develop meal plans, provide on-going consultation and reassessment of nutritional needs. Thenutrition assessment includes analysis of dietary history and intake, height, weight, pre-illness usual weight, goal weight, body mass index (BMI), lean body mass and fat.
Damien Ministries sponsors spiritual retreats each year, which are designed to bring together PLWHA in a safe, stress-free environment for four days in order to share their experiences, discuss issues relevant to their disease, as well as offer each other emotional and spiritual support. The workshops are an important way for PLWHA to network and meet others who are struggling with similar issues, giving them a support network that often continues beyond the workshop and into everyday life.
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If you would like to volunteer with our organization please complete our contact form and someone will contact you concerning your request.