Compass Gay & Lesbian Community Center will mark the Dec. 1 observance of World AIDS Day with South Florida’s largest display of Quilt panels from The Names Project and a number of activities starting on Tuesday Nov. 29 and continuing to Saturday Dec 3.
“This is an important event for everyone,” said Lorenzo Lowe, Compass’ HIV Prevention Coordinator who is leading the many staff members and volunteers involved in the program. “AIDS is a global issue and it’s something that concerns us all. Compass is committed to helping raise awareness with these programs.”
The four day observance starts Tuesday, Nov. 29 with a screening of The Ryan White Story about the young hemophiliac who contracted HIV/AIDS through a medical procedure and whose life and whose family’s lives were made hellish by ignorant, fearful people.
White, who lived for more than five years after his initial diagnosis in 1984, became the poster boy for AIDS support and fundraising. Federal law makers attached his name to legislation that provided funding for people with HIV/AIDS, the Ryan White Care Act of 1990.
The film is being sponsored by the Compass Youth Group and members of the group will hold a discussion of the film after its showing. Call 561-533-9699 for time.
On Wednesday, Nov. 30, a Wellness Empowerment Series luncheon will be hosted in the Bistro Café and guests will be invited to preview the Quilt panels. Reservations are required for the luncheon by calling 561-533-9699.
Suspended from a system of cables designed specifically to display the Quilt, panels are hung in a maze formation starting at one end of the Center’s auditorium (North Room) and ending a few feet from the stage area at the other.
Many of the panels on display have been requested by Palm Beach County friends and families who created and donated panels to remember their loved ones. Others have come from all over the nation.
“I weep every time I see this collection,” said 2010 visitor Mary Ownby. “All these young lives that obviously touched the many people who created these panels are awe inspiring.”
On Thursday, Dec. 1, formal opening ceremonies for the Quilt will be held at 6 p.m. in the stage-end of the North Room. Members of a local college GSA (gay-straight alliance) will formally open a panel for all to see.
Panels are twelve feet square and comprised of eight 3 by 6 quilts. A formal procedure has been established to open the panels with dignity and honor for whom and what they represent.
The opening will be followed by the induction of new panels submitted by county residents and then a candle light vigil and the calling of the names of people represented by the panels on display.
Voices of Pride, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Palm Beach County, will provide music for the ceremony.
On Friday, Dec. 2, the Quilt display will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are welcome to spend some time with the panels in remembrance of the many lives that have been, and continue to be, affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Quilt display will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. At 5 p.m, Rev. Taylor E. Stevens, an ordained interfaith minister, will orchestrate an interfaith program with representatives from a number of faith communities sharing the observance of remembering.
The service will be followed by members of another GSA closing the Quilt panel.
“I saw Rev. Stevens’ program last year,” said Julie Seaver, Development Director of Compass. “It was really powerful to hear all the different ways people express their beliefs. I will definitely be there again this year.”
AIDS Awareness Comes to Clematis by Night
The Palm Beach HIV Community Prevention Partners have decided it’s time to bring World AIDS Day to West Palm Beach, especially since Dec. 1 falls on a Thursday – the weekly time for Clematis by Night that draws hundreds of people for a night out on the town.
“We’re going to have a table on the street and distribute red ribbons and a variety of literature,” said Robert Scott, Early Intervention Consultant for the Palm Beach County Health Department, one of the members of the Prevention Partners. “We’re also sending a letter to the merchants asking them to display our poster and distribute palm cards with the World AIDS Day theme, ‘Getting to Zero.’”
“We’ve never approached the Clematis Street merchants to help in the battle against AIDS,” he added. “We hope all of the businesses on the street will support our effort to reach zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths.”
Members of the Community Prevention Partners will distribute palm cards and red ribbons and encourage people to get tested and learn how to protect themselves and their partners from infection. The palm cards have Web addresses where people can learn more and find a convenient testing location: HIVtest.org; WeMakeTheChange.com and bpchd.com.
Participating agencies are: Compass, Inc., Comprehensive AIDS Program, Inc., Drug Abuse Treatment Association, Inc., Families First, Inc., Minority Development & Empowerment, Inc., Minority AIDS Initiative Network, Inc., Palm Beach County Health Department, Partnership for a Drug-Free Community of South Florida, Inc., The School District of Palm Beach County, and United Deliverance Community Resource Center, Inc.
For more information contact Robert Scott at the Palm Beach County Health Department at (561) 671-4191.