Vital Bridges’ mission is to help people throughout metropolitan Chicago impacted by HIV and AIDS to improve their health and build self-sufficiency by providing food, nutrition counseling, housing, care coordination and prevention services.
The mission of Heartland Health Outreach is to improve the health of vulnerable individuals and communities lacking access to health care- through the provision of culturally competent, multidisciplinary services designed to prevent illness and improve physical, mental and social well-being, and through advocacy that promotes the human right to comprehensive, integrated systems of care.
Heartland Alliance advances the human rights and responds to the human needs of endangered populations—particularly the poor, the isolated, and the displaced—through the provision of comprehensive and respectful services and the promotion of permanent solutions leading to a more just global society.
Nearly twenty-five years ago, volunteers mobilized across metropolitan Chicago to help their friends, family members and colleagues who were battling HIV/AIDS. Their efforts and dedication to provide food, shelter, care and education about HIV grew and expanded, becoming Vital Bridges. Today, the organization serves nearly 1,800 people impacted by the epidemic annually. Since our founding in 1988, Vital Bridges has provided more than 11 million meals, 600,000 nights of shelter and 250,000 hours of counseling to over 10,000 people.
As the needs of our participants have changed, we've sought out new ways to provide the care they need. This pursuit led us to merge with Heartland Health Outreach, a subsidiary of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, and become Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care. We still provide high-quality basic services through four program sites located on the North, West and South sides of Chicago as well as in the suburb of Elk Grove Village, but now we can also connect our participants to the excellent medical and dental services of Heartland Health Outreach. HIV and AIDS are not the only chronic illnesses our participants face, so we believe it's important to treat the whole person and truly improve the quality of life for each person we serve.
Over 21,000 people live with HIV and AIDS in Chicago – that’s nearly 28 people per 100,000 and three-times that of the rest of Illinois. Chicago's and Illinois’ rates of HIV and AIDS prevalence are among the highest in the US.
The vast majority of people living with HIV and AIDS live at or below the poverty line, struggling to meet their daily needs while dealing with a complex, debilitating and incurable disease. Since 1981, 11,000 men, women and children in metropolitan Chicago have died from AIDS.
Vital Bridges strives to serve every man, woman and child impacted by HIV who needs our services.