If you've ever seen the stage play or movie Rent, you're familiar with the work of Friends Indeed. I'm not saying that Rent is actually the perfect picture of anything related to the actual HIV epidemic (ahem cough straight people were not the heroes ahem cough) however, the support group which is called Life Support in Rent is actually modeled on the support groups that take place at Friends Indeed.Friends Indeed is an interesting place to get services. No one makes you tell your name, or at least not your full name. No one makes you fill out a form. Certainly no one asks you if you have insurance or demands to see your medical card. No, in fact this is what you do to get services at Friends Indeed: you walk in. Notice I didn't say “you walk in, fill out a form, wait for an appointment, tell your life story, beg for them to give you a break and then get services.” Nope, it's not that complicated. You really do just walk in the door.
Friends Indeed says the “heart and soul” of what they call “the work” is something called (somewhat vaguely) the Big Group. It's kind of hard to describe what exactly goes on there. I mean, no one really breaks into a chorus of “Will I Lose My Dignity” but you get the feeling it could happen. After the Big Group you can sign up for individualized services like crisis counseling and various kinds of body work, and at least once a week they have specialized workshops. But if you're dealing with caregiving, bereavement or any type of serious illness, start at the Big Group. It's really hard to describe, but it's worth a try.