The Berks County non-profit organizations join together today to recognize World AIDS Day with a ceremony and AIDS Memorial Quilt display
Co-County Wellness Services hosted its annual World AIDS Day ceremony at The Inn at Centre Park by raising a glass in remembrance to local lives lost to HIV and AIDS and sharing an update on progress in our community.
The event was followed by Candlelight Procession, walking to the new Centre Park location of The LGBT Center of Greater Reading at 640 Centre Avenue, for a ribbon cutting and unveiling and dedication of The AIDS Memorial Quilt panels. The panels are shared on behalf of The LGBT Center and Co-County Wellness Services and are on display in Berks County through December.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a 1.2 million square foot tapestry that includes over 50,000 panels dedicated to more than 125,000 individuals. Sewn into groups of 8, the quilt is living memorial and symbol of the AIDS pandemic, honoring those that have died of HIV and AIDS since 1980.
Featured in the panels displayed in Berks County is a quilt in memory of Kutztown artist Keith Haring. Haring’s sister, author Kate, attended Wednesday’s event. Other panels are in honor of those from the surrounding Greater Reading area who were lost to HIV/AIDS.
Co-County Wellness Services executive director Carolyn Bazik spoke at the opening event about the ongoing efforts to fight against HIV and AIDS, “End the HIV Epidemic, providing equitable access and giving voice to all.”
Bazik says she welcomed the partnership with the LGBT Center of Greater Reading to bring the panels to Berks County.
“These quilt panels are a beautiful memoriam and also tragic reminder of the many lives that have been affected by HIV and AIDS,” said Bazik. “On World AIDS Day, it is only fitting that we share these panels with our community in a new space to serve LGBT citizens in Berks County. We value the work of the LGBT Center of Greater Reading and their support of our mission.”
Also in attendance on Wednesday, Pennsylvania State Senator Judy Schwank, State Representative Manuel Guzman, Reading Mayor Eddie Moran, and author Kay Haring.
“The AIDS Quilt is such a tangible reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go,” said Michelle Dech, executive director of the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. “The opportunity to feature panels of our lost local loved ones is truly an opportunity to bring them home, and one of the highest honors we could imagine as we open our new satellite location. To do this in partnership with an organization like Co-County Wellness is humbling, and this event is a true testament to the power of community and strength through unity.”