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NZAF farewells Kevin Baker, Jonathan Smith and that dynamic duo: Buffy and Bimbo

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    NZAF farewells Kevin Baker, Jonathan Smith and that dynamic duo: Buffy and Bimbo - 19-Jan-2005
    A combined total of more than sixteen years of support for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS has been acknowledged by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation as it farewells long-serving Positive Health Manager Kevin Baker and his partner (and former NZAF Board Chairman) Jonathan Smith.
    “The New Zealand AIDS Foundation is grateful for the wonderful years of work Kevin has given to us,” said Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier, “and also wants to acknowledge Jonathan’s work not only on the NZAF Board but his huge role as organiser of a significant number of awareness raising and fundraising events for the Foundation.”

    Kevin Baker’s work for the foundation encompassed both professional service and time as a volunteer.

    He first began work for the foundation as a part-time counsellor at the Auckland Burnett Centre (September 1992 to December 1994) and then returned as Counselling and Support Programme Manager (renamed Positive Health Programme) in November 1998.

    As a counsellor at the Grafton base he was a professional and supportive team member. He was particularly valued for his ability to manage boundaries and provide guidance to others. During this time Kevin, with Jonathon, started a sero-discordant support group for couples managing the challenges of HIV in their relationship.

    Ms Le Mesurier said: “During Kevin’s management of our personal health services for the last six years he has brought innovation and improvement. For example:

    • He encouraged and led an expansion of the model of care and support to include a health promotion intervention that recognised the key role our counsellors and support staff have in encouraging and helping HIV-positive people to sustain safe sex behaviour.
    • He worked to strengthen the links between our internal programmes particularly with GMH & Hau Ora Takatāpui and endorsed the lead given by our centres where counsellors, support staff and health promoters work as teams.
    • He worked hard to expand our relationships and networks with clinicians and key partners – for example in Auckland with the Refugee Health Education Programme, Herne Bay House and Community AIDS Response Team (ADHB). In 2004 he made significant progress which saw CART and the Auckland Infectious diseases specialist join NZAF in working toward a new position of social worker at our Burnett Centre.
    • He supported and encouraged greater alliances with sexual health services. This bore fruit in 2004 as two new free sexual health check services for gay men were opened in partnership with NZAF – one in Auckland and one in Christchurch.
    • At all times Kevin has recognised the need to raise awareness of the Positive Health services, in particular that the services were available for anyone affected by HIV, whether gay or heterosexual; male or female; third generation New Zealander or refugee.

    “Overall the key way to measure his value to NZAF is the vast number of comments we have received internally and externally from those who have expressed sadness and a sense of loss at his leaving. He is seen as affable, professional, supportive and focused. NZAF, and indeed the gay community as well, have been very lucky to have Kevin’s passion and commitment focused on achieving our mission.”

    Kevin finishes with the NZAF on January 28. v Jonathan Smith was appointed to the NZAF Board in December 1995 and was elected chair of the board in February 1997.

    Although he resigned from the board in July 1998, Jonathan maintained close contacts with the Foundation and, in particular, featured as an organiser and contractor of a long list of profile/fund raising events. These included HIV Walk for Life, the AIDS Media Awards, various NZAF programme launches, Red Ribbon Day collections, World AIDS Day commemorations, Government House receptions, sponsorship initiatives, Candlelight Memorial services, the Circle of Friends AIDS Memorial Garden launch, the MAC Viva Glam Fashion shows, Hero Activities and Queen of the Whole Pacific. Jonathan will also continue to work on the successor to QOTWP, the “Queen of the Whole Universe” for 2005.

    “Jonathan’s work for the Foundation and for people living with HIV/AIDS fills a large dossier for which the Foundation and the community is grateful,” Rachael Le Mesurier said. “And, of course, in our farewell tribute we cannot ignore that other dynamic duo, Buffy and Bimbo (actually they’re pretty hard to ignore), Kevin and Jonathan’s alter egos. Buffy and Bimbo have done a lot of work raising donations and promoting awareness of HIV and AIDS, whilst bringing a large (well small and large) package of delight, wit and classy entertainment to many of our community events.”
    Ref: - NZAF

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