World AIDS Day 2012 — December 1, 2012
As I begin my annual World AIDS Day reflection letter, I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank all of the people who have rallied during this epidemic, especially the staff of Clare Housing – direct service providers, nurses and social workers – as well as thousands of volunteers and supporters.
For three decades, people have stepped up to help people living with HIV/AIDS.
The journey of providing a caring home to these individuals began in 1987 when Brother Louis opened the doors to what is now called Damiano House. Many people have lived there in the last quarter century. Many died there, especially in the early years. Over the years staff and volunteers have provided loving care to some of the most marginalized folks in our community.
This is the story of HIV/AIDS: people being cared for by their neighbors, friends and family.
These people were not social workers or health care professionals. They were just common citizens who volunteered to help a person who was living with a chronic disease. They were just citizens stepping up. People, who simply cared, wanted to give back to the community and help.
This community has been there to help Clare Housing’s residents over the years.
No doubt this was a difficult year with the closing of two community care homes, Grace House I and Clare House. I personally, just wanted to thank the staff, board of directors and all that were involved in that decision. Special thanks to Clare Housing’s program director Michele Boyer who led the caregivers through the transition and made sure the residents landed safely in a new home. Closing these doors represents “letting go” of our history and a watershed moment for Clare Housing.
As we look to the future, this is what we know: We know we have a waiting list of nearly 200. We know each night there are 200-300 people who are HIV-positive and living on the streets and in shelters. We know that a stable and affordable home with supportive services will improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.
This is why we are committed to creating 60 more units of housing and confident that our community will step up and help.
The world of nonprofits and HIV services is changing dramatically every day. It is a challenging environment. However, as I look back on the contributions made day in and day out by staff, volunteers and supporters, I can only look forward with hope. People care. People act.
May today be a day to share the memories of those we have lost to HIV/AIDS and to those who are living with this incurable disease.
Yours in gratitude,