Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Team: Noel Ramirez

This post is part of a series that features a member of the community planning team - one of the devoted members of the Ryan White Planning Council or the Prevention Planning Group that volunteers his or her time to improve HIV services in our area.

This month, we feature Noel Ramirez.  Noel is now a Planning Council member, but until recently he served on the Prevention Planning Group. I asked him the following questions.

What made you decide to get involved in community planning?
I wanted to bring a youth/young person perspective to the table to shake things up a bit.  I was also tired of hearing people say that young people are apathetic.  We’re not.
You previously served on the Prevention Planning Group, and now you're on the Ryan White Planning Council, which is a pretty unique situation.  How do you think your time on the PPG will help you as an RWPC member?
I got to sample the great snacks and fruit flavored teas!
On the real, my time with the PPG was helpful in initially understanding the planning process.  I also got to meet people in the planning council through a variety of ad-hoc meetings.

 What is your favorite part about community planning?
My favorite part of community planning is learning the mechanics of policy and practice.  As a direct service provider, I never quite understood how and why things are. Community Planning really gives me an opportunity to really see what goes on behind the scenes.

What is the biggest challenge facing community planning today?
I’m working with getting some young people into it.  Outreach to youth and creating opportunities for young people seems to be the most obvious challenge. 

What do you wish more people knew about community planning?
The office staff and the community are awesome and fabulous.  (Ed. note: No, I didn't coerce Noel into saying that.)  The refreshments are great. And your voice is actually pretty important.
Noel: One of the many faces of community planning
What do you do?  What programs are you involved with?
I am a program manager at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and manage a program called The Sexuality With Education And Truth (SWEAT) Project.  The SWEAT project is a community-wide program for HIV+ young gay/bisexual men in Philadelphia. I work with different HIV care provider sites and develop/facilitate programming that provides young dudes an opportunity to find their voice, find a friend and find a community that support, loves and honors who they are.
I also do consulting work with YHEP’s Prep Program “I AM Men’s Health” and have developed curriculum and programming for HIV- men who are taking Prep.

What do you want Philadelphians to know about PrEP?
It’s an option and new technology for you when deciding how you’re going to engage in sex.  Check it out and talk to a medical provider for more information! 

What is your favorite thing about the Philly area?
I love riding my bike through different neighborhoods in the summer. I have also am currently having a love affair with Fuel…perhaps my favorite food joint so far. Next to Smokeless BBQ in South Philly.
Anything you like to do while you're in the neighborhood for meetings?  (No is fine!)
My programming work is usually in the evenings, so I’m usually off to that.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I love, honor and respect the people involved in the fight of HIV.  Planners, affected, infected, medical providers, administrators, government folks, medical case managers and allies, you have all stolen my heart :)

To meet our featured community planners or get involved in the process yourself, we invite you to participate in one of our meetings. You can always view a meeting calendar at, or email to learn more.

Briana Morgan is a health planner and website coordinator at the Office of HIV Planning. You can also find her on Google+.

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