Sunday, October 23, 2005

Paving The Way

HI EVERYONE



HI EVERYONE,

        I WANT TO THANK EVERYONE WHO’S BEEN NICE TO ME, I AM ENJOYING MARCHING WITH THEM AS SISTERS AND BROTHERS….. THEY THINK I DON’T HEAR THE DRUM OR LOUD SPEAKER, BECAUSE I AM DEAF.. BUT I DO HEAR IT, ENOUGH TO EVEN SHUT OFF MY HEARING AID AND I STILL HEAR IT.. IT MAKES ME PROUD AND KEEP MARCHING, TOWN TO TOWN…IT NEVER BOTHERS ME,
.. I AM HAPPY TO MEET NEW PEOPLE AND GET KNOW EVERYONE. MY KNEES HAD BEEN STIFF AND I NEED OIL ON THEM, LIKE I AM THE TIN WOMAN!
I MISS MY BUNCH OF KIDS AND PARTNER,ALSO MY GRANDSON,I CALLED THEM AND SPOKE EACH OF MY 6 KIDS ON MY WIRELESS SIDEKICK,  IT TOOK ME HALF HOUR ON THE PHONE. IT IS MY FIRST TIME WITHOUT MY KIDS, I AM SURE THEY WILL BE ALRIGHT…. THEY ARE ALWAYS IN MY THOUGHTS AND ALSO MY BIG HEART…..I MISS HUGGING EACH KID AND ALSO MY PETS AND PARTNER..
  I ENJOYED HOLDING THE FLAG VERY MUCH, IT NEVER BOTHERS ME, IT MAKES ME PROUD….
  I REALIZED MY UNDER ARM REALLY SMELL BAD B.O…. I AM WAITING FOR MY TURN TO TAKE A SHOWER….IT’S VERY EMBRASSING TO ME.I HOPE NO ONE COMPLAINS ABOUT IT.
   WE CAN DO MARCHES TO WASHINGTON D.C. , WE WON’T GIVE UP  OUR HOPE… I AM A VERY BIG SUPPORTER …
I AM ALSO VERY PROUD MARCHER,TOO

GOD BLESS MY SISTERS AND BROTHERS…

CINDY APONTE, PEER EDUCATION, DEAF SERVICE, HOUSING WORKS,


Paving The Way

Day 8 in Philly - Paving the Way

So……my day started with a humongous mug of coffee spilling onto the van seat while I was cleaning and organizing the interior and since it was warm coffee, it not only spilled onto the hem of my pants and the floor, but I sat on it without even noticing.  I marched all day with half white, half beige panties, smelling like Dunkin Donuts with feet.  Yuck.  We marched 8 miles in three hours, what a record!  We also picked up this totally stoned stray who did the entire march with us!  What a cutie, he even played the tambourine, tried to chant along when he could understand a word here and there and didn’t complain once.  We brought him into the church when we were done and gave him a Betty bag.  Nice to see that happen; I wish more people would join us like that every day.

Some of us girls just got back from the Hard Rock Café here in Philly where we went to have some downtime and the busboy asked us where we got our shirts from.  When we asked why, he told us his Mom had passed away from AIDS and he wanted to show his support.  Valerie engaged him in more conversation and it turns out he moved from 7th & Ave D, I believe he said, 5 years ago.  What a small world.

We had such a great time today and because we finished the day early we had a lot of downtime.  Today was the very first day I felt homesick, I suppose because I had a lot of time on my hands and I started to think about home and my family.  I spoke to my 5 year old yesterday for the first time since I’ve been on the march and you’d think it were 8 months rather than 8 days from the way I reacted when I heard his voice.  Thank goodness, he heard the frantic tone in my voice and immediately informed me that not only was he taking care of the house, Grandma and his 13 year old sister, but that he was also in the middle of a very engrossing video game and hereallyhadtogoyeahiloveyoutoomommygoodbye!!!

Shoot, so much for being a role model.

Dianalynn

Paving The Way

Diane Williams

Diane Williams  

Today was a good day. To see Ms.linney carry the flag was a beautiful site to see. Ms. Linney and Monica gave me a lot of love. I was real tired this today. I rest a lot today. My baby brothers call me today and that made me so happy. Just being here is just a dream come true for me.
Good night

Paving The Way

WHAT A WALK

So this is day nine on the road. I think yesterday was my first real day of getting some rest. I’ve been walking for eight days straight with no relief for the legs. The first night at the Boys and Girls set a little pace for what was to come. The sleep on the floor campout style. Wasn’t as bad as I expected. Went to church I think it was communion Sunday. Dianne ask if it was safe to drink of the cup. Couldn’t think of anything to tell her except that what we’re out her for to stop some of the stigmas and myths of HIV/AIDS. Can you believe how they even has us still thinking. I’m not going to place everything in one day the book is coming soon. As they also say about the chants on the road, buy the CD and the Charles King’s  single coming to a town near you soon. It’s interesting just talking to some of the people who have this virus they look healthy and strong , come from various backgrounds. There was this family we stay with who works with children who have HIV/AIDS  the day. If any one out there happens to read this find out how you can come and join us even if it’s for a day.   Don’t forget we are still taking donations. Today we had some time to enjoy some of the sights in Philadelphia. It is a beautiful town. I’m sure it has its ups and down too. We are having a rally tomorrow, hope the weather holds up.  For the last two to three days we were hit by a touch of Hurricane Wilma. The walking was bad the wind kind of strong thank GOD we made it. I would apologize for this back and forth dialogue  but that ‘s the way it is coming. It does get a little crazy on the road fatigue and comfort sets in and you don’t want to go any further. I guess you will have to find out how much further I go on the next bog.   PEACE OUT!    

Sheila Peeples
JTP

Paving The Way

Day 6

Day 6 5:50

So we are in Lafayette now.  We just went to Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center.  They cooked us some gumbo, potato salad, pecan pie, and some other really good pie.  We sat around a table, and had great discussions.  They presented us with their prevention programs and we presented them with the Campaign to End AIDS.  They were so wonderful to us.  They gave us T-shirts and gifts to go home with.  It was really great community building and networking.  It was nice to have gumbo again.  I’m getting closer to home.  We may stay in New Orleans for a night.  I’m trying to find someone to host us.  It’d be really nice to stay in nola for the night.  We’ll see.  Now we are at Acadiana C.A.R.E.S.  Its’s great to see Alan and Isaiah again.  They’re BBQ-ing for us.  I’ve been eating so well!

 

 

Chris Rothermel

Host Committee Organizer: Soul of the South, Houston
Campaign to End AIDS
rothermel.c@gmail.com

 

Paving The Way

Day 5 and 6

I think my days are getting confused…

Day 5

Yesterday Larry and I went to a State of Emergency meeting to present C2EA.  They received us warmly, but gave us no response.  They said they would put up fliers for us at their respective agencies.  So we left and went to a Ryan White Title 4 Community Advisory Board meeting.  We talked for a bit with them.  Asia, someone I met at the Youth Action Institute was there.  She said she had been trying to contact Larry to get on the caravan, but she had the wrong number.  So I talked to her about getting on anyway.  We came up with a plan together to get $ so she could go.  Larry and I went to Center for AIDS and advocacy to see if they could sponsor her.  One of the employees, Marjorie, said she couldn’t donate any $ because she didn’t have any, but instead she filled up the van with gas, and said use that money to help Asia out.  While we were at the gas station, some random guy came up and gave us 2 dollars, and said “Put this in your tank to get to DC”.  People left and right are showing support in any way they can.  We went back to the center for AIDS, and Larry called a bunch of agencies and got a lot of sponsorship for Asia to ride.  It was so heartwarming to see everyone donating and helping Asia.  We ended up going to Larry’s apartment to get Chuck, and we went back to my house, because Larry had his electricity shut off.  Larry went to pack some stuff at his house, Chuck took a nap, and I just relaxed and got ready for the rest of our adventure.  Chuck cooked an awesome meal last night and we just relaxed with some wine and beer.  My friend Nick came over and we hung out for a bit and we said good-bye.

 

Day 6

5:30 PM

I woke up early this morning, and Larry went to pick up the money that was raised for Asia.  Cleaned up the house a bit, before Larry came back then we headed over to pick up Asia.  Her sister was so cute; she hugged us and told us to take care of her sister.  It was really sweet.  So we headed out to Key West, TX to see one of Chuck’s friends to see if she could get some donations for us.  She had an amazing garden all around her house.  We took some pictures with her, and now we are headed to Port Arthur.  Larry is serenading us.  :)  I’m having such a great time.  It took us forever to find a hotel in Lafayette, and we were all complaining and cranky, but once we found a hotel it was all OK.  

 

 

Chris Rothermel

Host Committee Organizer: Soul of the South, Houston
Campaign to End AIDS
rothermel.c@gmail.com

 

Paving The Way

Paving the Way Days Seven and Eight

October 22, 2005

Dear friends,

Real Texas chili, that’s what I’m talk’n about!  

Friday started with a spirited to the Trenton Masonic Temple, where we were served a hot catered breakfast before marching in what had become a steady rain to the Statehouse with several dozen local AIDS activists.  Several dozen more activists met us at the rally site.  The rally had participation from a variety of organizations in south Jersey, including folk from Trenton and Camden.  U.S. Rep. Frank Palone spoke knowledgeably about AIDS in New Jersey and endorsed C2EA and its goals.  But, as usual, the most powerful speakers were people living with AIDS and HIV.  

After the rally, we went back to the Masonic Temple for a quick lunch. Armed with all-white rain gear that looked like hazmat suits, we then set out for the bridge crossing the Delaware River, accompanied by many of our new friends and the same friendly police escort that had brought us into Trenton the day before.  After lots of goodbye hugs, we set out across the bridge into Pennsylvania.  

We had only marched a few miles when we were met by the Millville police, who claimed no knowledge of our caravan.  They were adamant that we could not march through their town, though we were on the sidewalk.  Valerie and terri completely charmed them, explaining our purpose even while getting them to help us devise a route that would meet their satisfaction.  At the end of the conversation, as the police were facilitating our crossing the street, one of them said, “Your suits make you look like marching condoms.  This is great!”  

With that, the police left us to our own devises, as we made our way on narrow shoulders and grassy roadside paths, with a steady rain and accompanying chants and patter to keep us moving.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon, I had to peel of to catch a flight to Austin, Texas.  I had promised folk at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church last spring that I would come and speak at their annual AIDS commemoration.  Even in the rain, it was hard to leave the march.

My flight arrived late, and I arrived at my motel early in the morning.  As tired as I was, sleeping on a mattress after a week of urban camping left me fitful.  Then came the panic of the morning.  I had only an hour and a half to iron my suit, shower and find my way to the church.  Confusion about which luggage in what vehicle had left me without my phone charger, my laptop and my medications.  No one at the motel knew the street where the church was located, and none of the Austin contacts were answering their phones.  

A couple of quick phone calls with my Assistant, Douglas Sanders got me to the church five minutes before 9:00am, my scheduled speaking time.  The lawn in front of the church was covered with white crosses, stars of David, and crescents, representing people who had died of AIDS in the Austin area.  Many had names that passers by written on them.  But the church parking lot was empty.  I wandered into the church, again feeling a surge of panic.  Had I gotten the day wrong or perhaps gone to the wrong place?

Finally another car arrived, and I learned that I had been given the wrong time.  The service was to start at 10:00am.  I was an hour early.  Only then did I remember my promise for the march.  “It is what it is, and it is all good.”

When Douglas was making my travel arrangements, he had told me that my rental car would only cost $22 dollars.  He asked if he could upgrade me from an economy car to something a little nicer.  It would only cost $5 more.  He suggested a Trans Am, but I thought that was a little ostentatious.  Instead, he had reserved a convertible.  I went out to the church parking lot and put the top down.  With the morning sun shining warm and bright, I drove off to find a real cup of coffee and a newspaper.  “It is what it is and it is all good.”

The commemorative service was small and brief but sweet.  It was an unusual crowd for me.  All white, middle class, almost all straight, and no one, so far as I could tell, who was living with AIDS or HIV, gathered to remember those who had died.  I challenged folk not just to care, but to care enough to work to bring the epidemic to an end.  

One of the participants had been at the Soul of the South rally and vigil at the Texas Statehouse and Governor’s Mansion earlier in the week.  He shared his experience being there in the early morning hours, holding a sign that said, “Wake Up, Governor Perry!”  He said that at about 3 in the morning, a State Trooper came out of the Governor’s Mansion and ordered the demonstrators to quiet down.  The Governor, he said, had been awakened by the noise and had complained.

I had written Keith’s name on a cross before the service started.  After the service, I asked a man with a camera if he would take a photo of Keith’s cross and send it to me.  As we walked through the filed of crosses to find Keith’s, the man shared with me that he did not know anyone who had HIV or AIDS, or at least he didn’t think he did.  But, he said, the year before, he had been photographic the crosses when he saw the name of someone who had been his best friend in elementary school.  He still didn’t know if it was the same person, but it was enough for him to know that AIDS had touched his life.  He asked what he could do to help the Campaign.

I am learning that C2EA is more important for the little ways it is touching people’s lives in small but transformative ways.  I am starting to believe that those little changes, added up can turn into a stream that grows into a mighty river of people captivated by a vision of a world without AIDS.

Leaving the service with a couple of hours to kill before my flight, I decided to have a bowl of real Texas chili, at the Texas Chili Parlor, an institution I haven’t visited in over 25 years.  Today was the big game, UT vs. Texas Tech, and downtown Austin was swarming with people dressed in Long Horn orange.  I found a seat at the bar, and ordered a beer and a large bowl of the real thing.  

(For those of you who don’t know better, real Texas chili has no beans, no tomatoes, and no ground beef.  It’s made with chunks of brisket or other tough cuts of beef, simmered for days in water, beer and secret spices, served up with saltines and huge helpings of raw onions and sliced jalapeño peppers.)

Once I had eaten my full, I made my way outside through the crowd.  A woman dressed in Long Horn orange from head to toe, stopped me on my way out the door.  “What’s the red ribbon stand for?” she asked.  

“It represents a call for an end to AIDS,” I responded.

“AIDS?” she replied.  “That’s nice.”

As I write this, I am in the basement of the First United Methodist Church in center city Philadelphia.  The symphony of snores has begun.  I am eager to get up and march tomorrow morning in the rain with all of my friends and comrades from Paving the Way.

Love,

Charles King