Monday, June 29, 2009

Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in Santa Fe

Hard work paid off for AmeriCorps/National AIDS Fund Team New Mexico! In January we decided our LTP would include a Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display. Becky served as liaison with the Names Project and on Wednesday morning, June 24 under the engineering guidance of Martin Walker, our City Supervisor, the team hung eight panels of the AIDS Quilt. Some months ago, we had selected two panels that had special significance for us and invited others from the community to select some. When the quilt was hung, we were overwhelmed with emotion at the panels we had chosen, as well as those selected for us by the Names Project. But this was only the beginning!
On Thursday evening and with the quilt as a backdrop, a local theater group, directed by a friend of Bo's, presented a play called "The Yellow Boat" written by David Saar about his son who died at age 5 from AIDS, having contracted the virus from contaminated Factor 8. The play was attended by about 50 people who joined the cast and team for refreshments following.
The piece de resistance, however, was presented on Friday evening: The Red Ribbon Fashion Show. Stephen Roussel, our Team Coordinator and show producer, had previously recruited local designers to create fashions for this event. Becky, Ben and Stephen, along with community friends, modeled the outfits while Pauly served as stage manager and Bo as caterer. Following the show, the New Mexico Gay Men's Chorus serenaded while folks enjoyed the spread!
Saturday afternoon during Santa Fe PRIDE, over 130 people came to view the quilt in silence. During the entire four days the quilt was on display close to 350 people came to honor those memorialized by the quilts made by friends, lovers, parents, children, siblings, husbands, wives. Team New Mexico honored them as well by reading the names before dismantling the display, folding the panels and boxing them for return to the Names Project.
Two hundred and fifty dollars was collected during the display and will be donated to the Santa Fe Mountain Center's Meditation Garden in honor of Kahlo Benevides.
Mounting an AIDS Memorial Quilt display is an intensely moving experience, one which deeply reinforces the significance of the work we do as AmeriCorps/National AIDS Fund members.
Submitted by Bo Keppel

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