Living with HIV/AIDS can often come with health issues that make daily life difficult, and social stigmas that cause isolation. Those who are sick are often placed in nursing homes or have to rely on their families to care for them.
Elena’s House is a four-bedroom, faith-based home in Wauwatosa. It offers an alternative to institutional care and seeks to alleviate the challenges that people with HIV/AIDS experience.
Jase, a current resident at Elena’s House, found out he had HIV in 2005. Three years later he was diagnosed with Castleman’s disease. He said the rare form of cancer caused him to gain about 170 pounds of water weight, and the house helps him deal with daily struggles.
“They allow you to come and go as you please, but also know that if you overtire yourself, they don’t pick on you because you need toast made for you,” said Jase. “They’re glad to have helped supported you to get out there into the world.”
The drug-free, alcohol-free home provides meals, transportation and community support to residents who are often too sick to live independently.
“Many of people that come have been in a lot of chaos in their life. So to come to a place like Elena’s House where it’s very quiet, it’s really a restful place to heal and to get better,” said Executive Director, Mary Ellen Huwiller.
Many former residents, like Annette Mingo, were able to move out, but come back frequently because of the support they find through the Elena’s House community.
“When you leave this house its hard for you to shake it off,” said Mingo who lived in the house for six years.
Along with day trips and retreats, Elena’s House holds fundraisers. On Wednesday, September 11 it will host the sixth annual “Refashion for Life” fundraiser. For more information about the fundraiser, volunteer opportunities or the services provided by Elena’s House, visit www.elenashouse.org.