Success Story: The POZ-TO Awards

We’re pleased to present yet another amazing success story from our 2020 Rainbow Grants! The POZ-TO Awards are an annual ceremony celebrating and recognizing ten local heroes for their activism or fundraising for HIV/AIDS. Check out our interview with founder Jade Elektra below.

Could you tell us a little about the initiative your 2020 Rainbow Grant has supported?

The Rainbow Grant that I received helped me produce the 2020 POZ-TO Awards where we recognized and honoured ten local activists for their fundraising or work in HIV/AIDS. Because of COVID, we would not have been able to produce the awards ceremony without Community One’s help.

Watch the ceremony here.

Was there a particular thing that sparked this idea/initiative?

The POZ-TO Awards were born out of the idea that a lot of people who work for AIDS Service Organizations go unnoticed. It can be thankless work sometimes. So, I decided 8 years ago to change that. 

What was your goal in making this initiative happen?

The POZ-TO Awards are a celebration of those who are doing the work to stop AIDS and the stigma associated with it. We hope that by celebrating these local heroes we motivate others to do what they can in this fight.

Many organizations have been faced with a set of new challenges, due to COVID-19. How is your team adapting?

Normally POZ-TO & POZPLANET do a monthly social for the HIV+ Community and their supporters called MINGLE at Buddies and Bad Times Theatre. But right after our event in February 2020, the lockdown began. So, normally we would be raising awareness and creating a safe space for the HIV+ Community to meet. These events are the precursor to the awards in December. We use each event to highlight and fundraise for different HIV organizations in Toronto. This year the proceeds from the awards went to the 2 Spirit People of 1st Nations organization.

What has the response/impact been like so far?

We had an amazing response and because the awards were virtual and online. We were able to reach a larger audience than a physical in-person event.

How do you see this project evolving into 2021?

I am going to have to find sponsors to pull off the awards again this year (since COVID is probably going to keep us locked down for another year). Hopefully, I will be able to use last year’s show as a fundraiser to produce the 2021 POZ-TO Awards. But I definitely believe that this virtual event could be the future of this ceremony.

Is there any other projects coming up that you’d like to share with our supporters?

I produce a monthly magazine called POZPLANET for our POZPLANET Facebook group. It would be great to get some assistance in keeping this magazine going. I have been producing and writing it for 2 years and the circulation has been growing. Each month I feature a person living with HIV from around the world. The goal is to uplift and promote being out about one’s status to help fight the stigma. The magazine often has guest writers and columnist as well. We also try to promote any upcoming HIV related events. And since I am a DJ, I also do a music column where I mix entertainment with current events by giving a link to a mix and video that the reader can download. The magazine is absolutely FREE and a downloadable PDF.

Stay tuned for more Community One Foundation Success Story interviews coming soon!