Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reflections on World AIDS Day 2008

World Aids Day - December 1, 2008World AIDS Day by stevegarfield via Flickr

Staff at the NY Center for Interpersonal Development are honoring World AIDS Day 2008. Here we share thoughts from two of our staff.

From Robert Busan, Director of Community Development

In 1992 a gentleman Living With AIDS, Carl DeVaughn and I founded an agency for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, their families and loved ones. We named it Project B.U.I. L.D. (Building, Unity, Independence, Love, and Development), a client centered, all volunteer organization that relies on its members for its continued existence.

At the time Staten Island had no safe, confidential and comfortable place for people with HIV/AIDS to gather and so we created a drop-in center to provide recreation, education, advocacy and a congregate meal to all those who chose to come looking for a place where they would feel free of the stigma and discrimination that comes with having HIV disease.

Little did we know that in those early years we would get between 40 and 80 people in attendance every Thursday evening at the First Presbyterian Church in Stapleton. People were hungry for knowledge, relaxation and a good meal. Unfortunately for Carl he would pass away in January of 03 and only got to see a small sampling of what Project BUILD would do. Sixteen years later Project BUILD continues its legacy of care with the numbers who attend a bit smaller but the need clearly prevails.

My sweet daughter Robyn has been participating at Project BUILD since she was but a few weeks old. She is very much a part of the Project BUILD family and you can say she has grown up there. Robyn knows and understands that the people who come to Project BUILD are not always healthy, are in need and we provide them with assistance and a hot meal. If you ask her what we do at Project BUILD she would say “we help people.” Robyn sometimes helps to prepare and serve the meals. She is also in charge of distributing MetroCards to the program members. All in all she is being instilled with the meaning of volunteerism, of giving of oneself to others as its own reward. When I watch her doing her thing at Project BUILD I am so proud of her. She is truly a chip off the old block….Daddy’s little girl.

Each of us in our own way has this inside of us or we wouldn’t be doing the type of work we do everyday. As I reflect about World AIDS Day, I also reflect about how amazing all of you are! I thank all of you for being part of something at NYCID that is bigger than each of us individually. It is incredible to stop and think about how we all make a difference in people’s lives each and every day.

As I did last year, I am asking and imploring all of you to think about the millions of men, women and children across this great world of ours afflicted with HIV/AIDS and anyone you may know personally living with the illness, anyone who has passed on and their surviving families. In opening up your hearts you can help by not forgetting them and standing up against discrimination in any form. Your kindness, love and attention to this issue matters greatly to me.

Thank you for spending a few moments with me as I share my thoughts on this important day. I hope all of you and your families had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday

With sincere gratitude to all of you,


From Candace Gonzales:

Although I won't be with you on Dec 1st, please know that in my special way I will celebrate the lives of those lost to HIV and AIDS and those that are still suffering. I especially acknowledge those who volunteer to do the wonderful things that you and so many others do everyday and not just on World AIDS Day.
"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing...not healing, not curing...that is a friend who cares." ~Dutch Christian writer 1932

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