At The LatinX·A·O·E Digital Wellness Center (LDWC), it is our job to ensure and nurture a healthier LatinX·A·O·E LGBTQIAPK+ Community by addressing disparities and structural barriers preventing individuals from having fair access to wellness care.  It is our responsibility to showcase awareness and the importance of a culturally linguistic, trauma-informed workforce.  

 

The LDWC works together with our Community allies, private businesses, government entities, and community organizations across the state of Massachusetts to improve wellness/healthcare, mental health, and the general well being of the community.

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At the LatinX·A·O·E Digital Wellness Center we:

  • Coordinate peer-to-peer technical assistance and connect people to community resources.

  • Organize several events per year, ranging from a community conference, community recognition ceremony, public forums, discussion panels, live social media presentations, a podcast, and  community service projects across Massachusetts.

  • Connect our community with the resources needed for their personal as well as professional development.

  • Disseminate and share information digitally via the internet, social media platforms, and other forms of digital communication.

  • We embrace the arts as a form of therapy to provide our target community with opportunities for creative expression and healthier ways to manage stress and anxiety. 

  • Collaborate by establishing partnerships across Massachusetts with private businesses, government entities, and community organizations.

History

After a night of dancing, celebration, and lots of fun at a well-known Boston Gay Night Club, three strangers, a couple composed by a husband and his wife, plus a single Gay man, met while ordering drinks at the bar.  After conversing, the couple from Mexico City (given away by their thick Mexican accent) and the Puerto Rican from Brockton, Massachusetts, who was a resident of Boston at the time, discovered a shared passion for Public Health and Social Services. 

 

The soon-to-be Boston's new "Tres Amigos” Nirvana Kahlo, an Accountant by trade and Theologist.  Her husband, Ivan Vasquez, is a Sexologist and Register Nurse. Raymond Josue Rodriguez, a Community Advocate / Activist on issues concerning the Latinx·a·o·e LGBTQIAPK+ Community connected again outside the club, exchanging phone numbers.  

 

Later during the week, Raymond received a text message from Nirvana asking him if he would like to be a guest speaker at her weekly radio and Facebook Live Show to talk about HIV/AIDS and PrEP (PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis).  That means taking prescription medicine every day before you contact HIV to help reduce the risk of getting it (www.descovy.com).

 

Nirvana and Ivan, owners of BNS Radio (https://liveonlineradio.net/bns-radio) and Co-producers of the weekly Facebook Live Show "Sin Miedo A Vivir". In English, "Living Without Fear" asked Raymond to become a regular Guest Speaker representing his Public Health and Social Services perspective.  It was there when the idea to organize, mobilized to create safe spaces for the Latinx·a·o·e Spanish speaking LGBTQIAPK+ Community of Boston was born.  For several days, Nirvana, Raymond, and Ivan connected to brainstorm and establish their ideas and vision of what it would take to have a digital community organization.  Later, concluding that it was best to start small by organizing the first-ever Boston Latinx·a·o·e LGBTQIAPK+ Wellness Care Conference.  

 

Raymond, who is far from shy with a dynamic community network, contacted crucial community partners and organizations seeking potential sponsors only to get a notable "NO" due to not having a 501c3 status or a fiscal conduit.  A determined Nirvana and Raymond who would not take a "NO" for an answer gather the resources needed to create the 501c3 nonprofit organization, and by June of 2019, (CFA) Call For Action Inc. was established. 

 

On December 7 of 2019, Call For Action (CFA) made history by organizing and hosting the first-ever Latinx·a·o·e LGBTQIAPK+ Motivation, Empowerment, & Professional Development Conference, including the Latinx·a·o·e LGBTQIAPK + Community Excellence Awards (LCEA). 

 

Our first conference and community award ceremony took place at the Fenway Community Health Center Auditorium.  Thanks to our community partners and a budget of $7,000, our dream became a reality:

2019 Conference Sponsors and collaborators

City of Boston office of Health & Human Services

City of Boston Office of Neighborhood Services

City of Boston office of Civic Engagement

Boston Public Health Commission 

State Of Massachusetts Department Of Public Health Office of Laboratory Services

Fenway Community Health Center

AIDS Action Committee (Revolución Con Don P)

The Fenway Institute

The Boston Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence 

Whittier Community Health Center

GILEAD

BNS Radio

CRI (Community Research Initiative HDAP / PrEPAP)

GLAD

Amir Now Inc. 

Araceli Patterson - Manitari Coach

Manuel Guillermo Silva - Spain Marqueting Coach

Mana Escondido Restaurant

Mind Your Mind

Boston Glass

VIPER by DJ Michael Giller

The Multicultural AIDS Coalition (Casa Iris & Connected Boston)

The Harvard University CFAR CAB

The Transgender Political Coalition

MAPS

Project Shine 

MOBD Productions (Muscle, Otter, Bear, Daddy)

Mojito's Country Club

MaxaDigital

Ever Vega Presents: Boom Saturdays

Tropical Foods (El Platanero)

Club Cafe

Gallery Eye Care

Planned Parenthood

Rafael Sanchez (Legacy, EGO, Gay Mafia Boston)

Jackson Lewis Attorneys

The Hope House

Last Call Radio

In January 2020, our small team met with Eduardo Nettle from the State of Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Laboratory Services.  Eduardo, a 2019 conference panelist, spoke about the new federal and state initiative to end the HIV Epidemic in Suffolk County (EHE).  Not only did Eduardo pledged his commitment and support, but he also offered resources from the office he represents, in addition to suggesting we create an advisory group composed of community organizations to plan and organize the 2020 conference. 

 

Towards the end of January 2020, tragedy strikes our small team with the passing of our beloved Nirvana, who left behind a husband and three children.  Soon after, a disaster strikes the world, bringing us a mysterious apocalyptic virus that shuts down the world—a new Public Health crisis and Pandemic called COVID-19 has emerged.  By July 2020, with no signs of COVID-19 going away, the Latinx.a.o.e Conference Planning Advisory Group was formed.

 

The newly created Latinx.a.o.e Conference Advisory Planning Group had to adapt to new rapid and uncertain changes resulting from the Pandemic.  Still, we also had to rethink how we would host and deliver a digital conference to one of the communities hardest hit by the Pandemic in the USA.  Eduardo Nettle, Oscar Guevara (consumer), and Raymond Rodriguez led the newly formed conference Planning Advisory Group.  Other members of the planning team and representing agencies included:

Coco Alinsug - Fenway Community Health Center / AIDS Action

Adriana Boulin - The Fenway Institute

Ismael Rivera - Program RISE / JRI Health

Leopoldo Negron Cruz - Eddard Kennedy Community Health Centers

Sasha Jimenez - Planned Parenthood 

Claudia Maltos - Planned Parenthood

Jennease Hyatt - GILEAD

Ana Quiros - Ana Quiros Branding

Raymond Sanchez - The New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center

Brian Gonzalez - ALPFA

Juan Diaz - CRI (Community Research Initiative)

Wil Renderos - Audio Chemist

Omyra Murom - MaxaDigital

Erika Knodler - Call For Action

Gene Hurtado - Call For Action

George Diaz - Consumer

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Ivan O'Farrel, Nirvana Kahlo

and Raymond J Rodriguez

Call For Action Inc Founders

First 

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On December 9, 10, 11 of 2020, Call For Action Inc. made history by hosting the 2020 LatinX·A·O·E LGBTQIAPK+ Digital Wellness Conference.  The three-day conference with four workshops each day and a closing community discussion panel was a success and the first of its kind in the city of Boston and with certainty we look forward to continuing the work we started in 2019.  Thanks to our community partners for the monetary support and commitment despite the uncertainties of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

2020 Conference Sponsors and collaborators

City of Boston office of Health & Human Services

City of Boston Office of Neighborhood Services

City of Boston office of Civic Engagement

Boston Resiliency Fund (BRF)

GILEAD

ViiV Health Care

The Network La Red

Audio Chemist

ALPFA Boston

MaxaDigital

Araceli Patterson - Manitari Coach

Boston College

Eddard Kennedy Community Health Centers

State Department of Public Health Office of Laboratory Services

The New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center

Planned Parenthood

Program RISE

JRI Health (Justice Resource Institute)

The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

The Fenway Institute

Fenway Community Health Center

The Transgender Political Coalition

CRI (Community Research Initiative)

Revolución Con Don P

Project Shine

Poder SaludArte by Kayra Lee Naranjo

Henry Yadiel Loyola Irizarry Queer Wellness Coach 

Ever Vega Presents: Boom Saturdays 

Our Team

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Raymond J Rodriguez

Call For Action Inc Founder & Coordinator

Community Activist & Community Advocate

Contact: raymond@latinxwellnesscenter.org

Raymond is a bilingual Afro-Latinx member of the LGBTQIA+ community with 15+ years of public health experience related to HIV/STI testing, peer support, case management, health education and navigation, recovery coaching, event coordination/social media/outreach, and group facilitation. 

 

He is an advocate and ally actively engaged in the community outside of work, ranging from serving as a member of the Boston Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA) Ryan White Council, Latinx Advisory Group, and the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) Steering Committee for the State of Massachusetts' Department of Public Health to his work as a Coordinator for the Latinx.a.o.e LGBTQIAPK+ Digital Wellness Conference and Latinx.a.o.e Community Excellence Awards.  He is highly passionate about his job at JRI Health, Program RISE, Framingham GLASS, and serving LGBTQIAPK+ youth of color. Raymond has been HIV positive since 2015.

 

“My passion for helping others has been part of me since I was 15 years of age.  In my 30's after making the wrong turn into the street of life, I ended up getting stuck in the traffic of addiction. Thanks to my faith in God, my will to succeed in life, my family, and community support, I was able to exit the traffic of habit, and that's when I started driving towards a life of progression, productivity, knowledge, education, recovery, and sober living. 

 

I started working in the Public Health / Human Services field when I was 15 years old. I worked as a Peer Leader at the Brockton Massachusetts Hispanic Center, which later became the Latin American Health Institute (LHI).  The Peer Program was designed to have a group of Peer Leaders teach and help other teens with resources and coping skills.  We talked about substance use, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, + STIs among other topics.  We visited schools, community centers, streets, parks, and places where other teens congregated, like the Boys and Girls Club of America and the YMCA.  As I grew older and learned from the experts in the field, I was promoted to Peer Leader Advisor and later as a Program Coordinator for the Brockton Men's Project.  A program for at-risk Latinx.a.o.e men who had sex with other men (MSM) while experiencing substance use disorder and engaging in risky behaviors such as public or anonymous unprotected sex. 

 

I later moved to Honolulu to continue my work in Public Health.  I landed myself a job at the CHOW Project (Community Health Outreach Workers), today known as Hawai'i Health & Harm Reduction Center.  We were Hawai'i's first syringe exchange program (also one of the first in the nation), providing new syringes, medical supplies, hygiene products, and snacks for Hawai’i's IDU community.  I also worked at the Honolulu Life Foundation with members of the MSM community who struggled with substance use disorders (predominantly methamphetamine users).  Little did I know that the tables were going to turn years later, and I was to become an MSM with a substance use disorder who was also HIV positive. 

 

I later moved back to Boston and took a long break from Public Health / Human Services until 2016 when I worked at the Boston Multicultural AIDS Coalition (Casa Iris and Connected Boston Programs) and later in 2017 at the Fenway Health Institute.

 

 Throughout the years, I have worn many hats: Health Educator/Navigator, HIV Counselor/Tester, HIV Peer Support Staff, Case Manager, Harm Reduction Specialist, Substance Use Treatment Coordinator and recently Executive Director and Founder of a non-profit organization. All the hats that I have worn through the years have created the person I am today who looks at the best of humanity and loves to help others, especially Latinx.a.o.e LGBTQIAPK + communities.”