Transforming the Lives of HIV+ Women, Children and Families

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Christie's Place, Inc.
City & State:
San Diego, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Christie’s Place is a nonprofit social service organization in San Diego County that provides HIV/AIDS education, support and advocacy. Our mission is to empower women, children, and families whose lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS to take charge of their health and well-being. We are the only organization in San Diego County whose mission is dedicated to serving women, children and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Christie Milton-Torres dreamed that one day there would be a haven for women and families living with HIV/AIDS. At age 20 Christie was diagnosed with HIV. During the late 1980s and early 1990s Christie was a tireless advocate for the needs of women, children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. In 1994 Christie died due to complications from AIDS. April 2009 marked thirteen years since Christie’s parents, Irene and Doug Milton, made her dream a reality by founding Christie’s Place. Christie’s legacy lives on as Christie’s Place transforms lives by providing education, advocacy and support services to women, children and families living with HIV/AIDS. What started as a small grassroots organization has grown into a comprehensive support center guided by its mission. With only a staff of 11 as well as significant volunteer support our center now receives more than 8,500 visits annually and serves over 1,100 clients. Microsoft has played a key role in our evolution and our successes. Microsoft tools have been the catalyst for our organizational development and have been integral in all areas such as establishing and maintaining our organizational infrastructure, fundraising efforts, vital community education and outreach and giving our clients valuable computer skills. Microsoft Office programs have helped to enhance the quality and impact of the services we provide, for example: Enhanced quality of service, increased capacity to serve more clients:Christie’s Place offers a comprehensive array of social services and receives more than 8,500 visits annually. To track all of the work being done, Christie’s Place relies on Microsoft Access to maintain a comprehensive client database. Through Access we are able to record case notes and units of service, and generate queries and reports to monitor our program objectives. Both Microsoft Access and Excel allow Christie’s Place to provide accurate and detailed reporting to our funders and community stakeholders. Community outreach:Christie’s Place uses Microsoft PowerPoint to conduct HIV education to at-risk women and youth and to educate the community about the special needs that HIV+ women and children face. We depend on Microsoft Publisher to create flyers and brochures to market our programs and services and to educate the community about HIV/AIDS. Computer literacy for our clients:95% of our clients are below the federal poverty level so most do not have computers at home. Christie’s Place has a computer lab where clients have access to the full Microsoft Suite. Clients are able to access health information, establish e-mail accounts and get assistance with creating a resume on Microsoft Word to re-enter the workforce. Volunteers conduct computer literacy classes for adults and provide homework assistance for youth. Microsoft office products have been fundamental in allowing Christie’s Place to more effectively provide HIV/AIDS education, support, advocacy & basic needs assistance to low-income HIV+ women, children & families throughout San Diego County. The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to be a major health crisis in our community affecting increasing numbers of women and families. Women living with HIV spend most of their energy on meeting basic needs that take priority over any health problems. Women with HIV are living in poverty and are contending with homelessness, substance abuse, immigration status, mental health issues and violent relationships. Other barriers women living with HIV/AIDS in San Diego encounter are societal conditions (poverty, unemployment, lack of education, unstable housing, isolation, sexual abuse & trauma, gender inequalities), health system issues, and attitudes held by women that cause them to place their own needs last among other competing priorities. HIV-positive women are more likely than men to know their status but not be in care. Unlike HIV-positive men, positive women are not as tightly concentrated in any one geographic area of the County. The average monthly take-home income for a female head of household is $970, placing them below the 2009 federal poverty levels. The following highlight some of the agency’s goals:

  • Provide social & supportive services to assist women & families with children in maintaining and/or improving their personal health status and quality of life.
  • Foster self-empowerment and develop leadership skills for women. Educate and encourage women to take an active role in their own care and treatment, and in planning for services.
  • Increase access to health care.
  • Develop strategies to overcome real and perceived barriers to the system of care.
  • Provide basic needs assistance so that women and children can focus on their medical care and treatment.

Marissa’s StoryMarissa found out she was HIV positive when she was four months pregnant. Her family and friends didn’t want to have anything to do with her. She was scared, isolated, knew nothing about HIV and had no computer or job skills. Through Christie's Place she received benefits, housing, therapy, food, computer and advocacy training. Today Marissa has been sober for 7 and a half years, was recently elected to be the first HIV positive co-chair of the San Diego HIV Planning Council and is an advocate and mentor to newly diagnosed women. She utilizes her experience and newly acquired skills to help others navigate the complex system of HIV care and is a voice for those without a voice. In Marissa’s own words: “When I needed food they were there! When I needed housing they were there! When I needed computer skills they were there! When I needed childcare they were there! When I needed a hug and had nowhere else to go they were there! I get valuable information that I will pass on to others. Christie's Place has helped me to see that I can be a leader in the community to fight for something I am very passionate about. Without Christie's Place I would not have lived with this disease and become the 15-year survivor that I am today.”

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Optimize Mission Delivery
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