It is a little difficult for me to believe that 2020 is now something we live in and that 2019 has come to a close; but it has happened and I have to look forward. But, looking back on 2019, like every year, it had its ups and downs and I think all of those things are important. This organization in particular, I think, has had a lot of big ups, positives to reflect on as we move ahead. Definitely good things to build upon.

The most recent development and probably our biggest, was the most exciting news! AIDS Committee of York Region had undergone a rebrand and as of December 16th, 2019, we became CAYR COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS. A name that shows our evolvement and our commitment to the programs we offer and community we serve.

And we did evolve, an organization once solely dedicated to HIV supports now offers two additional programs. We still continue with our HIV program, but also programs of Harm Reduction for people who use drugs, and our Rainbow Space program which supports folks who identify with the 2SLGBTQ+ Community. While these programs were thought of and worked on over the last couple of years, extra staff were hired and put into place to really make these three programs become successful in 2019.

We have also seen meaningful engagement with our service user’s exceptional work; along with staff, board, volunteers, and student placements.

We held a most wonderful World AIDS Day event this year with a theme of #CourageousConversations showcasing a panel discussion, spoken word and music.

Like every year, we held a great #RedforChange campaign to create awareness of HIV/AIDS and to help end Stigma.

There was the Overdose Awareness Day event, our Pride in the park event, a 2SLGBTQ+ Love is Love social Valentine’s Day dance, our annual A Taste for Life, and others in between.

Our Holiday Care Program, held annually during the month of November and going into December, wrapping up with a Holiday Dinner, received such kindness and beautiful donations.

A new, exciting and ongoing partnership with Cocoa40 and their  #Chocolate4Change endeavor where $1.00 of every sold chocolate is donated to CAYR; and they are great chocolates!

And too many awesome people to mention; we thank them all.

All of the hard work and dedication of folks over the years has lead us here, we have built something great. I look forward to seeing what 2020 will bring; a new decade of love and support to move us forward.

Don’t miss out on anything and stay tuned by visiting our website and signing up for our newsletter.

By Mark Koning

Mark is the Manager, Communications & Operations with the AIDS Committee of York Region. Mark is also an Author and Blogger of Challenging Barriers and The BIST Blog. (Brain Injury Society of Toronto)