Event marks 22 years of hope

Damien Center celebrates World AIDS Day

A large red ribbon placed on a cloth banner was hoisted onto the wall as residents continued the fight against AIDS and building community support for those affected by the disease.

For 22 years people have celebrated World AIDS Day now and The Schenectady Damien Center hosted inside The Muddy Cup Coffee House inside Proctors Arcade in Schenectady on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The center is a program of the Schenectady Inner City Ministry and is located on 615 Nott Street in Schenectady.

Remembrance of those affected by AIDS and raising community awareness about the disease was the focus of the event. The center supports the local area by being a drop-in community center for individuals infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and provides meals, educational and empowerment programs, emotional support and recreational opportunities to ease stress related to living with the disease.

Let us take a moment just to remember those who love and have lost, the things we lost as we struggle to live and the hope for tomorrow, said Reverand Jenna Zirbel. "As life goes on and we continue to bring the light of hope into our hearts and in our community as we look to each other for support and encouragement and enlightenment, we remember that significant progress has been made in advancing access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care over the past 22 years, but putting human rights at the center of the response is crucial to further progress."

The red ribbon associated with the cause is symbolizes global solidarity, said Zirbel. In 1991 the New York State Visual Aids Art Caucus created the ribbon, she said, and the color red was chosen because of the connection to blood and the idea of passion and love.

"What the ribbon represents is being together, being one with, holding hands with, being in community with those who not only suffer from HIV/AIDS, but those whom care for those who suffer and those whom love those that suffer," said Reverend Andy Little. "So we got a ribbon over there and what we would like you to do is to take one of the markers on the table over there and write a message."

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