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Candlelight Vigil Highlights Local AIDS Quilt Display



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Candlelight Vigil Highlights

Local AIDS Quilt Display

By Tanjua Damon

The lecture hall at Newtown High School Thursday evening was a somber place as members of the community took part in the candlelight vigil on the eve of World AIDS Day.

“His name is Tom,” was the ending of a testimony given by a man whose life has been affected by the AIDS virus that took the life of a family member. Four panels of 44,000 were on display at Newtown High School last week hoping to send a prevention message to the youth of the Newtown community and to show others AIDS impacts many lives and it discriminates against no one.

“AIDS is blind. It does not discriminate,” Jessica Latowicki, co-chair of NYCAAP, said. “A lot of students still think it only affects homosexuals and people in Africa.”

Rhoda DeLitis of Bread & Roses service organization came to see the quilt because the panel created by Bread & Roses was a part of the display at Newtown High School. She had never seen panels from the quilt before.

“I just knew I had to come because I had never seen it before. It is such a moving experience. It can really give you a perspective,” Ms DeLitis said.

“There is so much love here. That is what is so overwhelming for me,” she said. “As long as we can love one another and not hold judgment, we can really heal. It’s almost as if you have to give up a piece of them in order to have something like this.”

The Rev Steve Gordon of Newtown Congregational Church also spoke and praised the NYCAAP members for bringing the quilt to Newtown for a second time.

“First I want to thank you for bringing these sacrificial panels which have been put in our midst for this disease that touches all of us,” Rev Gordon said. “You are helping to bring solidarity and hope. Even the littlest things people do in love and compassion will make so much difference.”

The quilt was displayed in the high school Lecture Hall November 27 through December 1. An evening was set aside for middle school students and their families to also view the quilt.

Erin Doyle, co-chair of NYCAAP, felt the quilt touched many lives while it was on display and was a good education tool for prevention among students in Newtown.

“I think it went pretty well. I was impressed with the turnout,” Erin said. “I have mixed emotions of sadness and hope. We need to find a cure. I think this will help with awareness that it is a preventable disease.”

Beth Bradley and Susan Costa sang three songs throughout the ceremony: “Patchwork Quilt,” “Quilt Song,” and “Take a Stand.”

At quilt displays, there is a piece on which people who have viewed the quilt can write a message to someone they know who has been affected by AIDS or simply to write how the quilt affected them personally. The students of Newtown High School wrote many profound messages of respect and hope to those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to people who are affected by this disease today.

World AIDS Day is observed annually on December 1. It is estimated that 34.3 million adults and children worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS. Currently, 29 cases of AIDS have been reported for Newtown.

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