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My Opportunity

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Tatiana Firmen, New York City

Tatiana Firmen, New York City

My experience the C2EA so far has been delightful and education.  Being a transgender and coming on this trip.. I was a little leary, but  I was greeted the moment I arrived and I felt like I was home.  I was treated with respect.  We started off with a rally in New York City, that had me really going.  I learned a lot at that rally.  When we arrived in Philly and I met Waheeda Shabazz-El from CHAMP/Act-UP Philly – we were greeted with happiness, smiles, hugs and LOVE.  We are being treated like we need to be treated, like family.  I have gained good insight in working with AIDS.  Being on this trip has made me realize I want to continue doing this work.  The road trip being on the road was great (drawing on the van things like “HONK to STAND AGAINST AIDS”  – and people actually HONKED.  When we arrived to the Church in Washington DC, we were given hugs, food and shelter.  I’m very grateful that God has given me this opportunity and I hope to have more great experiences like  this first couple of days on the road.

 

 

– Tatiana

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September 28, 2008 at 1:11 pm

My Highlight

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Walter Fisher with Harlem United

Walter Fisher with Harlem United

From city to state and now federal, the greatest highlight in my advocacy in HIV & AIDS is this journey and will be answered within 100 days!

– Walt

Written by standagainstaids

September 20, 2008 at 11:41 pm

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News from Newark

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Dispatch from Dennis Weakley in NJ:

This morning in Newark at 10:30 we had an excellent event at North Jersey Community Research Initiative.

Kendall Clarke of North Jersey Community Research Initiative organized an event at their multiple-service site.  Speakers included James Credle (Newark Pride), Gary Paul Wright (ED, African American Office of Gay Concerns)  Danielle Bush (Project Mgr, NJCRI), Lynette Blount (Hyacinth AIDS Foundation).

“Why is all this money going abroad when Newark has the third highest incidence of HIV in the nation?”  Lynette asked. “Thanks Bush, but we starvin’ here. Here in Newark we may as well go to Africa for care becuase they are getting more money than us.  We need a National AIDS Strategy.” 

The proud Newarkers that spoke this morning are soldiers in their community, Danielle having worked in “the field” for nearly 25 years, James has been around for nearly that long. 

So we didn’t get any press coverage (diana scholl adds: not a surprise, since the city’s only newspaper is probably shutting down. This is kind of awful for our democracy) – but the camaraderie was high and these folks were great. They even gave us lunch, cases of water and some cash for the road.

Written by standagainstaids

September 19, 2008 at 7:06 pm

NYC Stands Against AIDS

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CitiWide Harm Reduction stands against AIDS!

CitiWide Harm Reduction stands against AIDS!

Even though the caravans will go through rain and shine, it’s always nice when the weather cooperates. About 500 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall with signs and banners chanting “Obama or McCain! Will you stand Against AIDS!”.

Bikers and tourists (or perhaps non-tourists who enjoy “I Love New York” t-shirts) cheered as we passed by.

Then to a lively rally at City Hall, where the need for a National AIDS Strategy was discussed. But speakers also reminded the crowd that the mayor and City Council just cut AIDS funding by $6 million, even as the CDC shows the rise in new HIV infections worse than expected. And that HASA for All–which would extend housing benefits to HIV asymptomatic people–is stil MIA thanks to Speaker Christine Quinn.

Housing Works’ Eric Bartley, GMHC’s Kristin Goodwin and Juanita Chestnut, NYCAHN’s Shirlene Cooper, Bailey House’s Gina Quattrochi and many others spoke about ending the AIDS epidemic nationally and locally.

The only snafu was a gospel choir that was supposed to perform showed up a bit late because they were stuck in traffic. It happens.

Thanks to GMHC, Bailey House, NYCAHN, Harlem United, CitiWide Harm Reduction and (of course) Housing Works for bringing out folks and making this event so lovely.

And now Larry and Dennis  won’t be so lonely on the road down south. Their caravan is growing with a dozen new trippers coming along for the ride.

Written by standagainstaids

September 18, 2008 at 9:13 pm

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Northeastern caravan in NYC today!

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Larry Bryant, Kevin Gavit, Larry Day, Michael Shankle, Dennis Weakley

Larry Bryant, Kevin Gavit, Larry Day, Michael Shankle, Dennis Weakley in Boston

The Northeastern caravan arrived in the NYC after midnight after a whirlwind Northeast world tour to walk the Brooklyn Bridge today to a rally at City Hall. And it’s 71 degrees and sunny in the city, so Stand Against AIDS if you’re in NYC!

Some Northeastern highlights of the past 36 hours:

After the awesome rally in Portland, Maine, Larry Bryant and Dennis Weakley went to Boston for a town hall meeting in the evening. The AIDS Action Committee facilitated a great town hall meeting, where Bostonians expressed outrage about the state’s rise in reported infection rates.

The next morning they headed to Albany (Dennis’s home court) where New York State Senator Neil Breslin, Dan Butterworth (Provider) of the Schenectady Damien Center and Jason Ward (provider/consumer) of In Our Own Voices.  The event focused  on the Strategy and how it should address the disparities in care particularly in places like upstate New York.  Upstate New York relies on Part B funding, so there are minimal local appropriations, if any, to programs that deal with AIDS and HIV, poverty, and homelessness.

And the caravaners stayed on message. When a reporter asked Dennis what he thought about the fact that Wall Street’s crashing before our eyes, Dennis responded, “I’m most worried about how the people living on $5 a day are going to afford to eat.

“I’m not talking about AIDS,” snapped back the reporter.

“Neither am I,” said Dennis.

Written by standagainstaids

September 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm

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Stand Against AIDS loves Portland, Maine

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Bossie addresses crowd at City Hall

Bossie addresses crowd at City Hall

The Northeastern caravan kick-off couldn’t have been better. Thanks to the fantastic organizing of Maine AIDS Alliance’s Andy Bossie; and Jeannemarie Celentano of the Frannie Peabody Center, a crowd of 70-strong turned up at at rally at Portland City Hall this morning to call for a National AIDS Strategy. Candidates running for office, the Portland DOH, people with AIDS, providers and tons of community-based organizers were all there, and the energy was high. Nearly all of Portland’s news outlets were in attendance.

And it wasn’t just preaching to the choir. A passersby asked, “What is HIV?” and C2EA organizer Larry Bryant explained. When the man understood about the deadly disease, he replied, “Someone’s got to do something about that!”

Everyone was supportive of the caravan coming through, even allowing caravan leader Dennis Weakley to park his car on the sidewalk. Thanks to Portland for some good-old New England hospitality!
Next stop for the Northeastern caravan is Boston!

Written by standagainstaids

September 16, 2008 at 7:47 pm