In the four years I worked there, I had the privilege of working with Executive Director Jude Jackson (back before she had a Rosehedge house named after her). From Jude and other long-time staff members I learned a certain way of seeing. I learned to look beyond external presentations and see the humanity and dignity that everyone possesses. I learned to approach everyone I met, at work and in my personal life, with compassion and respect.
In 2009 I needed a change and left Rosehedge to spend some time on other endeavors, taking the lessons I had learned with me. While I was gone, Rosehedge merged with its partner agency Multifaith Works. And in 2012, the new Rosehedge/Multifaith Works asked me to come back.
I’ve had another crash course since returning—this one in Emotional Support. I have studied the history of the CareTeam and Shanti programs and have been touched by the intensity of the commitment I see in the staff and volunteers of those programs. Once again, I’m a true believer.
The experts say that this is the beginning of the end of HIV/AIDS. Medical advances have made it possible for people with the virus to live out a normal lifespan and researchers are continuing to develop effective prevention methods. Eventually, maybe in my lifetime, the disease will be wiped out. All of which only underscores the fact the people living with the disease are still here and must not be forgotten. It is still my job to explain that to funders, and I do it every day with pride.