History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Organizations - Health

Center Project, Inc. (CPI)

Based in:

Green Bay


1997 (merged with ARCW)

Health care: AIDS/ HIV
(male and female)

View the ARCW web site at this link (will open in a separate browser window).


In the spring of 1983 a small group of individuals, primarily from the gay communities of northeastern Wisconsin, gathered to discuss an emerging health crisis which we now refer to as HIV/AIDS. It was concluded that there was a need for a coordinated, regional response to the epidemic. C.E.N.T.E.R. Project Inc. (Community Endeavor for Needs in Testing, Education and Referral) was born.

From its legal incorporation in 1985 to the fall of 1987, no one involved was paid for his/her efforts. But in the fall of 1987 two grants were obtained from the State of Wisconsin to hire an Executive Director (Julie Thompson) and three part-time Community Health Educators (Steve Scherer, Sandy Holden and Jean Oleksy). In 1988 Paul “Cricket” Jacob, who had been a volunteer at CPI, was hired as a bookkeeper, and subsequently become CPI’s Accounts Manager.

In 1988 United Way of Brown County began funding a program that expanded HIV testing to the gay bars. And in 1989 U-Way provided funding for a Case Manager who could coordinate services for infected clients. A second Case Manager was hired with funding from the State of Wisconsin. These Case Management services nicely complimented the Testing and Education programs.

1989 also brought about the opening of the Fox Valley AIDS Project (FVAP). Although FVAP was often thought of as CPI’s ‘Appleton office’, it was indeed its own corporation and a project of the Community Foundation of the Fox Cities. CPI played a major role in FVAP’s inception and development, and the Community Foundation contracted with CPI to oversee all operations.

Other AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) were developing around the state at this time, and so the State of Wisconsin modified the ‘service area map’ and reduced CPI’s service area to nine counties. It would remain this way until CPI merged with the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) in 1997. The newly defined “Northeast Region” included seventeen counties and is served by ARCW’s Green Bay and Appleton offices.

During all of the years CPI and ARCW have existed, they have been fully engaged in a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with the LGBT community. ARCW continues to provide millions of dollars in services to this hard-hit community. And the LGBT community continues to support ARCW and HIV-infected individuals in countless ways. It is a necessary and important partnership.


Credits: History and description by NE Wisconsin LGBT History Project,
Paul "Cricket" Jacob and Lloyd Schaefer;
Web site design and layout by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: July-2009.