Founder Jamie Favaro and first Outreach Worker Wilfredo Rodriguez conducting street-based outreach (2007)
Washington Heights CORNER Project’s (WHCP) mission is to significantly improve the health and quality of life of people who use drugs. To help overcome stigma and systemic barriers to care, we provide support and services in an empowering and non- judgmental environment and apply a participant-driven harm reduction approach. We expand access to clean syringes through street-based outreach, and provide resources, advocacy, and a broad range of educational, health and referral services that reduce risks associated with drug use, including HIV, viral hepatitis and overdose.
The Washington Heights CORNER Project, Community Outreach and Resources, Needle Exchange and Harm Reduction (WHCP), was founded in 2005 as a activist-run street-based educational outreach and syringe access endeavor aimed at reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases among intravenous drug users in the Washington Heights homeless community. WHCP began outreach efforts two nights a week near the George Washington Bridge Port Authority Bus Terminal, a location frequented by injection drug users, sex workers, and other community members engaging in high-risk behaviors. Harm reduction supplies and educational literature were provided out of a nylon knapsack and service included mental health support, motivational interviewing and wellness and recovery counseling. The severity of commonplace high-risk behavior paired with participants’ enthusiastic utilization of outreach services, made it obvious that swift organizational capacity building would be needed to expand hours and service scope and actively work with Community Based Organizations, local, and state institutions to connect participants with appropriate service and treatment referrals.
Timeline of Growth:
- February, 2005 – WHCP activities start but lack a schedule or data collection methods.
- November, 2005 – WHCP begins street-based outreach two nights per week in front of a closed storefront at 178th and Broadway.
- October, 2006 – WHCP is awarded $35,000 in ‘seed funding’ from the Injection Drug Users Health Alliance. Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center agrees to act as the fiscal conduit of WHCP while the organization files for non-profit status.
- December 2006 through January 2007 – With the help of Michael Carden and John Wedeles, WHCP conducts a community needs assessment to collect data supporting the need for Syringe Exchange Services in Washington Heights.
- March, 2007 – WHCP rents a small room from Dominican Women’s Development Center to store supplies and work towards legal operations.
- April, 2007 – WHCP receives unanimous support from Community Board 12 to operate a Syringe Exchange Program in the neighborhood.
- July, 2007 – Working with pro bono lawyer Paul Burgo, WHCP receives 501(c)3 tax exempt status.
- August, 2007 – WHCP moves to a small 2nd floor office at 522 West 181st Street. While not a legal Syringe Exchange location, the new office enables WHCP to store the increased amount of outreach supplies needed to meet the needs of program participants.
- WHCP participates in our first community event- the 17th Annual GALDE Health Fair.
- September, 2007 – WHCP receives funding from the New York City Department of Health.
- October, 2007- WHCP expands services to include a.m. outreach hours around the GWB Port Authority Bus Terminal.
- November, 2007 – Jamie Favaro is awarded the NASW ‘Emerging Leadership’ Award for founding WHCP.
- December, 2007 – With the assistance of the Harm Reduction Coalition, WHCP begins to offer flu shots, Hepatitis A & B vaccines and Overdose Prevention Training and Narcan provision.
- March, 2008 – WHCP receives funding from the COMER Foundation to hire a part-time Fiscal Manager.
- June, 2008 – WHCP receives funding from the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund to support nutritional incentives.
- June, 2008- WHCP receives funding from the MAC AIDS Fund to support our outreach program through the COPE Initiative (Community Outreach Program Expansion).
- September, 2008 – Columbia Medical students Sarah Adkins and Devon Callahan begin joining WHCP on p.m. outreach shifts, they later go on to found CUHRON- Columbia University Harm Reduction Outreach Network and the CORNER CUHRON Clinic.
- October, 2008 – WHCP receives funding from the New York State Department of Health.
- December, 2008 – With the help of then-intern Taeko Frost, WHCP begins Hepatitis C Testing.
- April, 2009 – WHCP moves into a 3,000 square-foot storefront location which the agency is able to ‘waiver’ into a legal Syringe Exchange site. Syringe Exchange services triple.
- August, 2009 – WHCP holds the first WHCP Training Institute.
- August, 2009 – With only 5 full-time staff, WHCP opens on Sunday’s from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., making the agency one of the few SEP’s in NYC to be open 6 days per week.
- November, 2009 – WHCP wins the prestigious Union Square Award which enables the agency to purchase supplies related to our Health & Wellness services.
- June, 2010 – Thanks to the generous work of volunteer physician Carmen Dominguez, WHCP opens the CORNER CUHRON Clinic two nights per month. The clinic is staffed entirely by Columbia Medical Students and all low-threshold services are free.
- January, 2011- Thanks to the vision of several Columbia University School of Nursing volunteers, WHCP begins a Women’s Wellness Initiative.
- February, 2011 – WHCP receives support from the New York City AIDS Fund to expand HIV Testing promotion amongst high-risk drug users in Northern Manhattan.
- March, 2011 – With the help of Nurse Practitioner Chance Krempasky, WHCP increases our Women’s Health and Sexual Health services.
- January, 2012 – WHCP relocates to a 9,000 square foot office which enables the agency to expand infrastructure related to medical, outreach and peer services. The new office also has a larger conference room for community meetings and several cubicles available for community partners.
- September, 2012 – WHCP establishes a new PDSE Advocacy Liaison position, filled by Robert Suarez, to work in tandem with VOCAL-NY to be better connected to advocacy efforts
- December, 2012 – WHCP celebrates the leadership transition as Founder and former Executive Director Jamie Favaro steps down and former Program Director Taeko Frost steps up as the Executive Director
- February, 2013 – mental health and harm reduction group counseling with Michele Stocknoff, LCSW, is provided on site
- March, 2013 – WHCP is the recipient of the NYCDOHMH Enhanced Condom Distribution grant for the borough of Manhattan
- May, 2013 – WHCP publishes its first book — a compilation of memoirs written by WHCP participants — titled CORNER Stories and is featured in the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) art stroll
- June, 2013 – Deputy Director Michael Botticelli of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) visits WHCP
- July, 2013 – WHCP receives approval for NYSDOH syringe exchange waiver to provide outreach in Hamilton Heights (137th to 155th on the West side of Manhattan)
- September, 2013 – WHCP welcomes Shoshana Brown, LMSW, as the new Program Director
- December, 2013 – WHCP hosts CORNER Carnaval 8th Anniversary Fundraiser at the legendary El Morocco nightclub and brings in over 200 community members to celebrate