Monday, December 23, 2013

Mental Health Groups: Making a Change Together

Hi, all!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brian Jauregui, Mental Health Intern at Center on Halsted.

A new year is upon on us and it is a great opportunity to take advantage of the Mental Health Services at Center on Halsted. We offer a variety of services including individual, couples, family, and group therapy. If we can’t provide the service you need then we will make every effort to provide you the resources to other services!

I am excited to share some information about our new groups that will be starting as early as January 13th 2014! To those that haven’t been in group therapy, it might seem overwhelming or strange to participate, but if you give it a chance you might enjoy it! Once you join a group, participation is always voluntary and even on days where you want to be a silent member, you might benefit from just being there. It is always your choice how much and what you want the group to know about yourself. Just remember the more you become involved, the more likely you will benefit from being in group therapy. 

Group therapy might be an affordable option to enrich your life. You might find that you have important things in common with other members. You might hear something that strikes a chord which then allows you to address an issue you were not previously aware of. Maybe being part of a group will allow you to identify more honestly and directly with other people in your life.
Here at Center on Halsted, we offer a variety of groups that may fit your needs. This year, I will be co-facilitating a process group for LGBTQ members looking to learn more about themselves as well as learn how they interact and influence relationships with other people in their lives. That was a shameless plug for my group, but we have about eight new groups starting in January, so check out our page for direct contact information and details about other groups.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why your voice matters at this year’s National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).

This year marks the 11th annual observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).  NLAAD is one of a series of National HIV/AIDS Awareness Days occurring throughout the year that focus on various communities.  The goal of these observances is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and to ensure that community members get tested for HIV.

As a gay Latino man who has been HIV positive for six years, I know the meaning and power that comes with getting tested and being an informed individual.  Finding out my status really reinforced my belief in taking an active role in my health care with my medical provider.  What my personal experience mirrored is what various studies have indicated, that knowing one’s status and engaging in quality health care leads to better health outcomes.

This year proves to be an important and exciting year in public health.  Finally we are seeing the convergence of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Healthy Chicago, which brings into focus efforts to provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address longstanding public health issues.  For example, the ACA will ensure the continuation and expansion of essential medical services for Americans, including Latinos and Latinos Living with HIV/AIDS.    Having worked with community partners in the rural south, I know this is great news for those jurisdictions where historically there have been gaps in the delivery of services and medical care.  It feels like progress and access to healthcare is finally coming to those most in need.

However, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures remind us why HIV/AIDS Awareness Days are still an important community effort to address the epidemic.  In 2009, Latinos accounted for 20% of new HIV infections in the United States while representing approximately 16% of the total US population.  As CDC states, Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. (  In Chicago, the Latino population accounts for 17% percent of the city’s reported cases of HIV, which is similar to the national trend.   Locally, one statistic that stands out is the number of HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) who were not aware of their HIV infection.  For Latino MSM, 21% of those HIV-infected were not aware of their infection in 2011 (

On a local level, I’m excited to be working at Center on Halsted and with various local partners and stakeholders to observe NLAAD.  This year, we are co-hosting a series of community events that focus on dialogue and engagement about HIV/AIDS within the Latino LGBTQ community on Chicago’s north side.  Many organizations, including Center on Halsted, have a long-standing commitment to working on addressing HIV/AIDS, but we can all agree that a local, coordinated effort and conversation needs to be sustained.  It is such a happy surprise that this year’s NLAAD theme is “Commit to Speak”/“Comprom├ętete a Hablar.”  With so much movement on the national and state level, the most important step that still needs to occur is ongoing, local conversations that lead to a more coordinated and common approach to HIV/AIDS.

As someone who has worked in public health for over a decade, I know that the most dynamic work happens at the local and regional level - where the community goes out and speaks intimately with other community members about the impact and reality of HIV/AIDS and commits itself to deliver essential services.  It is at this level where the spirit of all of these national, state and local strategies comes into action. I hope you take a moment to commit to speak about HIV/AIDS in your community.

Interested in joining us to observe NLAAD?  On Thursday, October 17, 2013, please come join us at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60613. Click here to register:

We are happy to announce that the following organizations will be participating in the observance of NLAAD at Center on Halsted.  This includes Access Community Health Network (ACCESS); aChurch4Me Metropolitan Community Church (MCC);  the Association of Latino Men in Action (ALMA); CALOR; Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH); Circuit Night Club; Lambda Legal; National Museum of Mexican Art; Project PrEPare; Project Vida;  Queer Tango; Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center; Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN); United Latino Pride; and Vida/SIDA.

By: Christian Castro, MA - JSI Study Coordinator at Center on Halsted.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Arts @ Center on Halsted

Hello again!

Hopefully you got all motivated to try out new recreation and fitness programs from last blog post. I think I saw some new faces at Queer Yoga! This week, I wanted to write to you about the amazing arts programming we have going on at Center on Halsted.

Any of you out there want to pump up your Picasso? We have many different offerings for beginning artists, or for people who just want to try something new. Chicago Artery presents free art workshops every Tuesday. Their current series is coming to a close, but keep your eyes peeled for future workshops at Center on Halsted and at other locations around Chicago. Check out their site; you might even see some pictures of yours truly attempting some art making.

20 Neighborhoods has been working on a collaborative art piece throughout four sessions. This project, led by Women Made Gallery, brings together women from across Chicago, who are affiliated with various organizations, to create a collaborative art piece. This piece will represent self, family, and community. You can check it out at the exhibition at Center on Halsted on September 19th and at Women Made Gallery later in October. Look for the details here and on our calendar.

If you’re on the meetup scene, you might be familiar with Sapphic Adventures. If not, I recommend it. They host a Women’s Painting Series here. I participated in the last one, and I have a painting-formerly-known-as-a-Kandinsky hanging on my wall. The next class is in November. Look forward to a registration page to save your spot. Gotta get those prime easels!

Love visual arts, but hate getting your hands dirty? Do I have the event for you! Every six weeks, we change the galleries on our second and third floor. And, each new show is cause for a party! Join the artists themselves in a gallery opening. Sometimes, there’s snacks. Often, there’s a cash bar. Always, there’s great artwork.

Coming to our theater, we have Women’s Work Weekend. The six finalists of a playwriting competition will take the stage. These original works are all written by and featuring women. Make sure to check them out! You can buy tickets here:

For the literature buffs out there, we have a great authors’ weekend coming up in early October. Local author Laura Krughoff's debut novel, MY BROTHER'S NAME, chronicles a girl who assumes her brother's identity and begins her new life as a young man. Join Laura in a discussion of gender passing and addressing the question, "Do people see what you tell them to see?" on October 5th. The very next day, join Dolores DeLuce in a gathering celebrating her new book, "My Life, A Four Letter Word." She will tell tales of her days in San Francisco and her adopted gay families. Find out more on our online calendar:

A grand spectacle at Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens awaits us in October. Hosted by Center on Halsted Women's Action Committee, “An Evening of Art, Fashion, and Engagement,” is a part of our By Women, For Women series and will feature an interactive art show, a fashion show, and live music. It is the premier gathering of LGBTQ women in Chicago. We are presenting 2 women with “Community Leader Awards” for their countless efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ community. You can purchase your tickets here:

Keep your eyes open for some film screenings coming your way in the late fall and winter. These are in the works, but if you have a great film on your mind that you would love to see, let me know. You can reach me at, or my extension is 456. I’m still working on the carrier pigeon training.

I hope your inner artist is brimming with the possibilities offered at Center on Halsted! I’ll be seeing you soon, paintbrush in hand.

Keep on keepin on,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mental Health groups: Making a change together

Mental Health Interns at Center on Halsted
Photo by Tom Elliott
Hi all!

My name is Brian and I am one of the mental health interns here at Center on Halsted. I will be posting blogs related to mental health over the next year. 

Today I am excited to share some information about our new groups that will be starting in September!!! To those that haven’t been in group therapy it might seem overwhelming or strange to participate in group therapy, but if you give it a chance you might enjoy it!

Participation in the group is always voluntary and even on days where you want to be a silent member you might benefit from just being there. It is always your choice how much and what you want the group to know about yourself. Just remember the more you become involved, the more likely you will benefit from being in group therapy.

Group therapy might be an affordable option to enrich your life. You might find that you have important things in common with other members. You might hear something that strikes a chord which then allows you to address an issue you were not previously aware of. Maybe being part of a group will allow you to identify more honestly and directly with other people in your life.

Here at Center on Halsted we offer a variety of groups that may fit your needs. So I invite you to check out our Mental Health Support Groups and if you see something that you might be interested in contact us!

Current offerings:

* Beyond Sober
* Bisexual Support Group
* Coming Out Group
* Healing from Sexual Violence Group
* HIV+ Art Therapy Support Group
* HIV Support Group
* Lonely, But Not Alone Support Group
* Mental Health Group
* Women's Psychotherapy Group

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four Fabulous Fitness Functions by Fierce Females

Hello blogosphere!

Let me introduce myself: My name is Em and I am the Community and Cultural Programs Coordinator here at Center on Halsted. I’m excited to introduce some of the rad happenings going on each week.

We have a great set of women-led recreational offerings. Want to learn the sultry steps of tango? How about stretch it out with yoga? Need some motivation to get fit? Do you want to try Feldenkrais (or learn how to pronounce it)?

All four of these fabulous fitness functions are led by fierce females. Alliteration aside, these offerings provide a great opportunity to get moving, stay healthy and socialize. The classes offer unique opportunities for fun, fitness and recreation. But don’t just take my word for it! Hear a bit from the instructors below.

Queer Yoga will be offered every Tuesday from 6:30 – 7:50pm. The six week series is great for both beginners and those who have done some yoga before.

Instructor Susan Virginia says, “When I first started talking about “queer yoga” a number of people asked if that was a particular style of yoga. Like – if there were different poses. There are no specific “queer” yoga poses, although I’m open to the idea. Queer yoga is a yoga class with a particular focus on self-care, but it’s not the poses that make it queer, it’s the community and the intention. As a queer person, yoga has been an important self-care tool for me. I have experienced yoga to be a transformational practice and yoga can be its most transformational when you’re able to bring your full self to the mat and to your practice.”
Here is her website, with some more info:

Work It Out is offered every Wednesday from 7:00 – 8:00pm.  Instructor Chrissy says, “The format for Bootcamp is designed so that everyone can go at their own pace, based on their own personal fitness level. The class lasts for 45 minutes and we do a warm up, body weight exercise drills and stretching at the end.” The Bootcamp is certainly a fun way to get moving!

 “I'm really excited to be working with Center on Halsted because it's so connected to the community and helping people,” says Chrissy. “So far they have been very supportive and helpful in working with me to get Bootcamp off the ground. I'm really looking forward to continue building this program at the Center and make it a long running program where people can come and have a good time exercising.”

And, if that doesn’t excite you, there’s food involved! “I'm also excited that we are partnering with My Fit Foods, across the street, and they are coming each month to bring food for after the class.”

Queer Tango is offered every Thursday. There are two classes offered: the beginners class is from 6:30 – 7:30pm and the intermediate class is from 7:30 – 8:30pm. Instructor Paola Bordon says, “Queer Tango allows individuals and couples to explore the different roles of "leading" and "following" within Tango. This gives the dancer the power to choose any role that they prefer and the teacher the opportunity to demonstrate both the leading and following positions. The classes are a fun and casual way to learn a new dance and meet new people!” Check out her awesome interview with Groupon!

Want greater comfort? Ease of Movement? Pain Free Living? Feldenkrais will be offered starting in September.  Awareness Through Movement® with Sarah helps make this possible. Instructor Sarah Welborn says, “I believe everyone is entitled to affordable, sustainable and beneficial self care and that everyone deserves: “Living Life with Greater Comfort and Ease.” Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® is for anyone looking for new ways of dealing with the familiar, unlocking further growth potential or wanting to bring greater ability to their life in movement, thought, feeling and sensation. It is a powerful tool for healing, recovering and growth.”

Awareness Through Movement® lessons are verbal instructed series of movements designed to enhance sensation and create a greater awareness of behavior and movement. By introducing new movements and behaviors, limiting patterns begin to fall away.

Sarah describes the possible results of Feldenkrais shared in the community: “To share a space of quality self care with fellow members of our LGBTQ community in feeling and living better improves our community as a whole. I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting experience at Center on Halsted.” The class will be offered every Thursday at 6.00.

We also have a new Ballroom Dance Series beginning at Center on Halsted! This series will begin on Oct. 6th and then continue on Oct. 13th, 20th, 27th and Nov. 3rd. The class will be from 7:00 – 8:00pm. This is an introductory five week series. Dust off those dancing shoes and learn in a fun, affirming environment!

As always, you can join us for Co-ed Volleyball offered on Monday and Thursday from 6:00 - 9:00pm.

I’m feeling more fit by just thinking about all that’s offered at Center on Halsted! There are so many ways to get involved in fitness and recreation here. Also, many of these classes have sliding scale fees. If you have financial concerns, or any other questions, send me a note at

See you soon,

Monday, July 22, 2013

Welcome to the new Center blog!

Welcome to the new Center Blog!

We’re excited to re-launch our community blog, with a new look and feel. We are transitioning our blog from Tumblr to Blogger to have a more convenient way to communicate to you and the LGBTQ people across Chicagoland.

In this new blog, you will find updates on programs and services offered at Center on Halsted, stories about the people who make up the Center—including staff, volunteers and patrons—and exciting news that affects the entire community. Be sure to subscribe to our feed, and check back regularly for the latest posts!

This blog is just one way to keep in touch with us. You can also subscribe to our emails, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We’re even on YouTube, so be sure to watch our new promo video!  You should also check out our online calendar of events to find ways to get involved with the Center and meet other people like you. And you can find out more detailed information about all of our programs on our website,

We want to hear from you! If you’re interested in writing a blog post or you have ideas or experiences you want to share, please email me at

Stay cool out there. And enjoy the rest of summer!

My best,

Tom Elliott
Director of Public Relations