Amid the backdrop of inspirational music, flashing cameras and fashionable outfits, Latinos Salud used the opportunity to announce several new programs it had launched.

The nonprofit's annual gala, titled Gala al Fresco, was held Feb. 19-20 outdoors under tents at the agency’s new Wilton Manors location. Executive Director Dr. Stephen Fallon announced a new program that takes the strain off hospital emergency rooms and allows Latinos Salud to step in and cover health insurance premiums for patients in greatest need.

Fallon continued to deliver the message that in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, Latinos Salud never shut its doors and actually grew in services. Latinos Salud rolled out two new programs designed to build rapport with community members who might otherwise be reluctant to seek screening or health services, one specifically for youth, and the other for all community members. The agency also launched wellness clinics with gay and Latino nurses at each of its three locations.

The agency tests 7,000 community members for HIV and STIs annually, has vaccinated over 2,500 people for COVD-19 and provided more than 2,000 clients with PrEP at no cost.

Co-founder Rafaelé Narváez shared stories of how the agency had helped a father whose 18-year-old son had just come out to him; a victim of sexual assault who was treated on-site for a sexually transmitted infection; and a closeted man who wanted to start taking PrEP so that he would not accidentally bring HIV home to his wife. Board Chair Dr. Franco Chevalier affirmed Latinos Salud’s mission of delivering culturally appropriate care and client empowerment for all ages.

Awards were presented to the Our Fund Foundation and NBC 6 meteorologist Stephen MacLaughlin. David Jobin, Our Fund president, accepted the Corazones award, on behalf of the philanthropic organization and MacLaughlin, gala host, received the Community Pride award.

Entertainment was provided by America’s Got Talent finalist Jimmie Herrod, who drew standing ovations both days, and Los Angeles retro-funk band Soul Scratch. The band performed a slow-moving bluesy number called “It’s Not Over” and called on guests to support nonprofits like Latinos Salud.

Members of the new youth and culture programs were present both days.

“I moved to the South Florida area two months ago, and the youth services program has been like a home for me,” Jeffrey Guzman said. “It’s significant that in addition to vital testing services, Latinos Salud looks out for the emotional and social wellbeing of community members.”

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