There’s a saying that ‘the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart’. Nebraskans show their hearts when supporting Worlds AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day was first recognized on December 1, 1988. Since its inception as a global health day, acknowledging the more than 35 million people living with HIV around the world, and the more than 35 million who have passed from AIDS-related complications since the virus was first identified in 1984, World AIDS Day has become an effort to unite communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS. During the past few decades, our friends and neighbors all across Nebraska have gathered to celebrate, honor, and remember the lives of those who are currently living with HIV as well as those who have passed. As the state’s only AIDS Service Organization, the Nebraska AIDS Project has been there along the way to recognize and lift up the spirits of those in Nebraska who are struggling. Who are grieving. Who are living life to the fullest. Who are standing in solidarity with those who have been impacted by the virus. Who are willing to walk along the sometimes rough road that accompanies this diagnosis. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way, and we’ve been fortunate to participate so actively with those in Nebraska who are interested in remembering and honoring their family, friends, and community members who have been impacted by HIV.
From the western-most point in Nebraska to the eastern-most point, we’ve gathered to celebrate and embrace those needing it most. World AIDS Day in Nebraska serves as an outlet to educate, to celebrate and salute the dignity of those affected by HIV, and to come together in solidarity. We encourage our staff members across the state to participate in local World AIDS Day activities. Here are the stories of a few of those celebrations…
Scottsbluff – The Calico Spirit Group and Nebraska AIDS Project partnered to host an educational program and candle-lighting ceremony, featuring a key note address from Jeff Tracy, from Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska (CAPWN). This event was open to the public, and featured Mr. Tracy’s presentation, “State of HIV Care”, in conjunction with a meal and candle-lighting ceremony. The World AIDS Day event, celebrating the lives of those living or impacted by HIV in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, is now in its 15th consecutive year.
News coverage from KNEP NBC Nebraska here.
Central Nebraska: Hastings/Kearney/Grand Island – Hastings College organized an event on their campus, featuring two speakers as well as presenters from their student HIV awareness group, called Peer HIV Education Organization (PHIVE-O). Luminaries were placed on the lawn of the student union after lunch and remained lit in honor of World AIDS Day late into the evening.
Lincoln – Southeast Community College invited Nebraska AIDS Project to participate and educate attendees to its World AIDS Day event on campus. The Student Activities representatives on campus played Plinko with questions about HIV/AIDS and gave students an opportunity to learn and win prizes. This event was open to the public and some visitors from outside the school attended as well. This event served up lots of great learning and educational opportunities about the transmission of HIV and opening up conversations on the topic of living with HIV.
Northeastern Nebraska: Wayne – The Pride Group at Wayne State College asked NAP’s Norfolk Case Manager, Christin Woockman, to help with an awareness/education event on World AIDS Day. Christin provided statistics and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services sent a box of giveaways items such as keychains for the event. The group made a banner using various statistics about HIV, to use as a visual presentation. Condoms and brochures were distributed, along with cards about free testing at student health. The newspaper at Wayne State College covered the event and several students participated.
Omaha– Metropolitan Community Church in Omaha hosted a service, inviting NAP staff to attend and help guide the service. A section of “The NAMES Project – AIDS Memorial Quilt” was on display at the event and was a reminder to those in attendance of the awe-inspiring legacy of the battle against HIV/AIDS that we strive to continue to uphold. Our own Executive Director, Jordan Delmundo, delivered an inspiring speech reminding those in attendance that despite the political climate, we will rise above and live to see the end of HIV/AIDS. Community members shared personal stories about overcoming fear, and calling to end stigma associated with an HIV diagnosis. Several community members shared inspiring messages about their personal journey either living with HIV, or supporting a loved one. This type of service makes an impact by bringing the community together and asking that we all love and support one another, and that we raise our voices in the face of injustice and stand in solidarity. A local group of women affected by HIV created a quilt this year to commemorate the event. This quilt is now on display in the Omaha NAP office.
In addition to the main event at MCC, NAP’s Youth Engagement Coordinator, Abigael Stewart also attended educational events at Bank of the West and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
News coverage from WOWT NBC Omaha here.
To make a donation to the Nebraska AIDS Project, please click here. Your donation dollars help us continue our mission to serve those impacted by HIV right here in Nebraska.
London Woolman is the Accounting & HR Manager for the Nebraska AIDS Project, overseeing the financials, human resources, and operations of all NAP offices across Nebraska. In addition to her work at NAP, London is a runner/trapeze school graduate/Night Court rerun watcher.