Team takes 'Step' toward AIDS awareness

Event aims to educate, raise funds for HIV groups

by Jessica Carreras

When it comes to raising money or awareness around HIV/AIDS causes, sometimes it takes a little help to make the first step.

The AmeriCorps National AIDS Fund Team Detroit is looking to help the local community donate and become aware of HIV issues with their May 22 event One Step..., a fashion show and afterglow party that will feature local designers, taking place at Detroit's Northwest Activities Center.

Sarah Detloff, who has spent the past year working with the local AmeriCorps team, says the group decided on their long-term project - the fashion show - with the goal of educating a new audience that may not otherwise be aware of the impact HIV/AIDS still has on their local and global community.

"We tried to find something that was going to be fun and entertaining and would bring people together, and that's where the fashion idea came from," she shares, adding that "We're hoping attendees come away with a better understanding that ... no one is unaffected by HIV/AIDS."

AmeriCorps, a federal government program created under President Bill Clinton, has enlisted over 250,000 individuals since it's inception in 1993 to engage in causes as wide-ranging as education, environmental issues and public health. Over the past year, a team of volunteers - including Detloff - has worked for the Michigan AIDS Coalition, a service site affiliated with the National AIDS Fund.

The One Step... fashion show is the Detroit team's final event, culminating their year of service.

Over the past few months, they set out to garner support from local and national designers, as well as audition model hopefuls wishing to be a part of the show. "We started contacting basically everyone we knew," Detloff says. "We looked for local designers because we really wanted the show to be representative of Detroit and to have some diversity - somewhat like the community we serve."

The result is truly a southeast Michigan-centric celebration. On the final list of clothing providers are Femilia Organic Couture, American Apparel, Delia's, Lost n Found Vintage, Wound Menswear and more. MC Coco of WJLB 98 FM will serve as the host, and models will represent a variety of ages, races and sizes - a point Detloff was proud to point out.

"This is not your typical fashion show," she advises. "It's not models who look identical to each other. Our models are people in the community - they're not professional models - and they look just like you."

Only they'll be decked out in the trendiest local duds.

Luckily, attendees will have their chance to chat with some of the designers and learn how they can grab their own garb at the afterglow party, which will feature a live DJ, appetizers and dancing.

But more central to the event than fashion will be the prevention messages featured throughout the evening, encouraging attendees to learn about HIV transmission and infection, donate their time and money to AIDS organizations and, of course, to get tested. The latter effort will encourage a visit to the free, anonymous HIV testing on-site at One Step..., something Detloff hopes many visitors will participate in to show that HIV isn't something to hide and forget about.

"We hope we will open people's eyes to a side of HIV/AIDS that they don't know about or have forgotten about," she says. "We hope to really put forth that HIV/AIDS affects everyone and that it's not the stereotype that people think of when they think of HIV."

One Step... Fashion Show

6:30 p.m. May 22

Paul Robeson Theatre, Northwest Activities Center

18100 Meyers Road, Detroit

$10 in advance, $12 at the door


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