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At risk community

For 29 years I was a member of the at risk community. I came of age during that small window of time between the inception of birth control,and the onset of the AIDS virus. I partied hard, used drugs, and had sex with nameless people of both sexes. Somehow, I remained negative.

Now, years later, after having lost a child to a drunk driving accident, gotten off drugs and gone back to school, I have a career as a Harm Reduction Counselor and Drop In Center Coordinator at a non profit agency that services HIV+ people and their families. I can't believe I get to wake up everyday and come to this wonderful place, and get paid too!
Each of my clients have HIV or AIDS. Many of us have lost many lovers, friends and family members to the virus. Many clients have been rejected by friends, neighbors, families and loved ones because of their status. At the Drop In Center, HIV+ individuals find unconditional love, acceptance and help. We have laundry facilities, a television and a VCR and an agreement with a local video rental shop to loan us movies upon request. We have a food cupboard, a living room, computers and a community of friends who love and support us.

There are 61 clients in this small rural community, and many of them attend activities provided here such as celebrations of birthdays, outings, picnics, monthly pot luck, craft days, and harm reduction meetings. We provide condoms, gas vouchers and food vouchers. We become the clients advocates and ears.

Yes, sometimes we lose one, and that is hard, but we celebrate their lives as we knew them and focus on the life ahead, thankful for the chance to have known that special person.

It has been my honor to work here and meet this group of loving, giving, strong and heroic people, who volunteer at the asking and support me in everything I do to make this Center a better place.
I do local fundraising and teach in the high schools a class I call HIV 101. I go throughout the community testing for HIV, handing out condoms and brouchures, connecting IDU's with our underground syringe exchange and trying hard to just love everyone where they stand.

I am proud to be a part of this Center and to know all these courageous folks who live everyday with HIV.
Thank you all for loving me, teaching me, guiding me, and allowing me into your lives.


Sent via email - Clearlake, California, USA. August 20 , 2003.

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