Earlier this year, Detroit native Ka’Juan Hill faced such a conundrum. The group that he had planned with friend and fellow activist Kendell Jones and the Detroit Recovery Project was meant to create a safe space for safe sex and mental health conversations—and no one could share space anymore.
But Hill comes from a long background of advocacy and activism. As a community outreach specialist with Unified HIV Health and Beyond and a Stop HIV Ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the obstacles and challenges COVID-19 posed were no match for his organizing knowledge and deep-rooted desire to help his communities. Hill saw his experience as an opportunity to step up, asking, “What can I do?”
He quickly pivoted to a different kind of outreach. Hill and Jones took inspiration from other organizations like the Detroit chapter of the Trans Sistas of Color Project. They put together care packages of food, essentials, and safe sex education and supplies to pass out to those in need, trying to help as many people as they could. It started small at first, financed out of Hill and Jones’ own pockets. But with more and more support behind them, Hill and Jones were able to increase their reach with each round. They hope to continue with even more support—and everyone is invited to participate.
Whether it’s financial assistance, volunteer drivers, or donations, Hill says that anything helps. You can contact him on Facebook or Instagram at KhaosTalks, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to contribute.
When asked what inspires hope and optimism in him right now, Hill pointed to his own Champ, Liliana Reyes. The Executive Director of Detroit’s Trans Sistas of Color Project acted as their advisor and shoulder to lean on throughout the process. “When we first started, we just asked over and over, how? How? How do we do this?” He laughs. “We were able to call and lean on her.” Ka’Juan wants to use his spotlight to encourage everyone to check out and support the Trans Sistas of Color Project – Detroit and Unified HIV Health and Beyond. Hill has also been approved for a sponsorship with Allied Media Projects. AMP is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting documentary projects that fight for social change by revealing social disparities in marginalized communities—you can donate here.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been said that the world has come to a halt. But for many—and especially for marginalized communities—the difficulties and challenges they face on the daily haven’t. “The world didn’t stop,” Hill says. “We come from a background of outreach, so we see people still need information…People are still having sex, people still need to eat. So how do we help with that?” It’s a simple question, but it’s behind everything Hill does. And as he and Jones have proved, there are many different answers—the important thing is that we act. That’s why we’re honored to call Ka’Juan Hill a Champ of 2020.
This interview is part of a series highlighting everyday Americans who have risen extraordinarily to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic—the Champs of Summer 2020. As a thank-you to the essential workers on the front line, we’re building our limited-edition Champ Detrola as a gift of gratitude. Proceeds go to the Healthcare Workers Fund in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southwest Michigan. Learn more about the Champ and how you can help here.