Celebrating 25 years of serving those with HIV/AIDS

A few words from Executive Director Cheryl Potts

Twenty five years ago, my Mom, Dad, and I attended a fundraiser barbeque for an organization in New Jersey that provided summer camp for children living with HIV or those who had lost a parent due to HIV. I remember sitting at a picnic table with a woman and her five-year-old son as she told a story to us about her struggles with injection drug use, her diagnosis with HIV, and the transmission of the virus to her son. That evening, as we drove home from the event, my Mom began to cry, stating “It is unfair to know that because of a few bad decisions, that woman and her son are going to die. I want to do more.” I am so thankful for the insights of people like my Mom, who groomed me to always want to take care of others and never judge.

I am also thankful for the trailblazing of the Alexian Brothers. They, too, were fighting an uphill battle 25 years ago in an effort to open Bonaventure House, so that people living with HIV could live their last days with dignity and within a compassionate environment. The Brothers were brave to reach out in a community that was hostile and unforgiving towards people living with HIV. But they were committed and persevered, growing from housing 35 men and women to serving over 200 people a year through transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, After Care, and housing advocacy. Built on the values of dignity of the person, care of the poor, compassion, holism, and partnership, Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance has become a community lifeline.

This spring we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the lease on our first, official, site-based facility: Bonaventure House. In 25 years, we watched advances in HIV treatment, celebrated the successes of our residents, and mourned the passing of others.

My Mom was right. It IS unfair to know that because of a few bad decision, people can die. That is why ABHHA is here, 25 years later, serving those with compassion and without judgment. I look forward to the day when we reach zero AIDS cases and there is no longer stigma against those living with HIV. Until then, ABHHA will stay a beacon for those who need a helping hand.

I encourage you to join us. Volunteer, donate needed items, or write a check to help those we continue to serve. You are a key piece of our history and our future.

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