Workers Assistance Program (WAP)

WAP Blog

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Blog, Employee Spotlight, THIVC - Texas HIV Connection

Spotlight on a Trainer: HIV Connection’s Mikka Basham-Pavelka

Workers Assistance Program has several programs aimed at providing valuable, educational trainings to AWP customers, prevention professionals, students, and teachers. AWP, HIV Connection, and PAL® deliver trainings on a variety of topics from smoking cessation to hepatitis to peer mediation. Our in-house trainers travel across Texas and the country delivering our trainings and curricula. They are our road warriors and some of the biggest personalities in the office. We hope you enjoy getting to know them a little better.

What’s your favorite snack for the road?

Beef jerky, sugar-free Red Bull, and Chili Cheese Fritos. I may throw in a Dr. Pepper or two just to round out the essentials. 

What’s your favorite training?

One of my favorite trainings was, at first, one of my least favorite — Motivational Interviewing. It was one of my least favorite trainings at one time because I wasn’t very familiar with this particular counseling technique, but it has now inspired me! When using MI correctly it can be incredibly effective and invaluable recourse when working with a client. I also love the respectful nature of this counseling technique and how versatile it is with other counseling tools. 

What’s your most memorable post-training story/interaction with a participant?

I love hearing how our trainings helped them in the field.  I often miss doing front line work, so its very rewarding hearing from the participants that our trainings make an such a positive impact on their clients.  It’s incredibly rewarding. 

What’s the best part of training?

I am very high-energy and I’m not a fan of lecture-based trainings.  The best part of training for me is the interaction between peers and using that interaction as a way to discuss and apply real life scenarios to working with clients. It keeps trainings real and makes the trainings more active and hands-on.  

Cruise control or no cruise control?

Cruise control whenever I can. It cuts down on the unnecessary speeding tickets and the gas bill. (Unless you go over 90, then it’s pretty much useless.) 

What’s the one thing that you can’t live without on the road?

See question about rituals. I hate leaving anything behind I may need for training or personal use.  It absolutely drives me crazy. 

What’s your favorite movie?

Nightmare Before Christmas!! I have loved that movie and have watched it probably 20 times per year since it came out in 1993. I can’t help myself!  I also collect memorabilia from the movie. I should have just said Star Wars, it would have been way less nerdy. 

Favorite place to stop on the road? 

OK. I’m about to give you some life changing information here. Anytime you get to go through West, TX on I-35, stop for baked goods, and I’m not talking Czech Stop. If you like commercialized kolaches and cream puffs then go there, but if you are looking for the real deal with way less traffic go a few blocks past the Czech Stop to Village Bakery. Everything is made homemade and fresh everyday with traditional recipes. It is also so clean. The owner purposely installed an open kitchen so that customers can see the cleanliness of the preparations and staff. 

Do you listen to books on tape, music, or podcasts on the road? If yes, what are you listening to lately?

It depends on who I’m traveling with. I enjoy pop and country music when riding in the work van (aka green machine) with Joseph.  We have dance parties in our seats and sing-alongs. We also count the number of drivers who stare at us like idiots. It’s entertaining. Brad and I usually talk politics, drug policy, social issues, and occasionally, football.  

What do you do on the road between trainings and sleep — free HBO, pool time, practice dance moves?

All the above!  Sometimes, just relaxing in the hotel by myself watching unlimited HGTV is my version of self-care. But, I also try to visit unique restaurants or attractions in the different places we go.  I also have a lot of friends and family spread out among the state. I make plans with them if I can too. 

What sort of ritual do you have before you leave for the road?

I triple check my bags for my essentials. I hate leaving home without something I really need and can’t replace out on the road, like my glasses or some make-up. I also have a bad habit of bringing my 20 lb. kettlebell with me to exercise out on the road. It never leaves the green machine, but I take it every time. LOL! 

What’s your spirit animal?

Miranda Lambert. She’s a small town country girl with attitude and a lot to say, much like myself. I love her.


Blog, THIVC - Texas HIV Connection

2nd Annual HIV Outreach & HEI Case Management Conference


Last week, the Texas HIV Connection hosted the 2nd Annual 2013 HIV Outreach & HEI Case Management Conference at the Omni Southpark in Austin, Texas. For almost two decades, the Texas HIV Connection, in cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, coordinated the Street Outreach Workers Conference specially tailored towards educating and reinvigorating Texas’s street outreach workers — the first line of defense in HIV prevention.

Last year, the SOWC combined with the HIV Early Intervention Case Management Conference for the first time and gave birth to the HIV Outreach & HEI Case Management Conference. HEI case managers are responsible for linking recently diagnosed individuals with HIV/AIDS to services like medical care, substance abuse or mental health treatment, and basic needs that improve their adherence to medication and quality of life.

This year’s event was the second installment, and it was bigger and better than ever. Attendees were given the opportunity to participate in workshops and lectures focused on HIV testing, intimate partner violence, human trafficking, methamphetamine, building support groups, social marketing and outreach, and many other topics. Just as importantly, the conference offered many opportunities for conference attendees to unwind and network with staffers from other HIV outreach, HEI case management, and other HIV prevention-focused agencies from around the state. Our goal every year is to make sure the state’s street outreach workers and case managers feel honored, updated, and rejuvenated.

Photos from the event will be up soon. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the presentations given at the 2nd Annual HIV Outreach & HEI Case Management Conference, visit the conference page on our brand new HIV Connection website. We have archived all speaker presentations and handouts for easy download and viewing.

If you have any questions about the conference, participating in the conference, or what we should have in store next year, please contact Dago Garcia at


Blog, THIVC - Texas HIV Connection, WAP

A Closer Look at Texas HIV Connection

The Texas HIV Connection has been a leading HIV Education organization for over two decades.

Our training staff’s strengths come from the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and service in both the substance abuse and HIV/AIDS education fields. HIV Connection is renowned statewide for its interactive and enriching trainings aimed at strengthening HIV Outreach Workers’ and HEI Case Managers’ sexual and cultural understanding, harm reduction techniques they teach clients, and their understanding of HIV disease, substance abuse, and mental health.

Donating to WAP would help sponsor an HIV Outreach Worker, HEI Case Manager, or an HIV Prevention Specialist to join HIV Connection at a training or educational conference. Please visit Amplify Austin between March 4th at 7:00pm and 5th at 7:00pm and donate to Workers Assistance Program.

Click on the interactive infographic below to learn more about HIV/AIDS in Texas and Texas HIV Connection:


Blog, Employee Spotlight, THIVC - Texas HIV Connection, WAP

Employee Spotlight – Joseph Duarte