The Alexandria Commission on HIV/AIDS held its second annual World AIDS Day Service Excellence Awards Program at the First Baptist Church on King Street Tuesday evening, where four individuals were acknowledged and honored for their efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In his introductory remarks, Mayor Bill Euille said that, It is important to pause and reflect on why we are here tonight. He spoke about how Alexandria is a very caring community, with residents dependent upon each other for support, and he congratulated the Commission and the recipients of the peer-nominated awards.
Commissioner Nadine Eads reminded those in attendance that this is the 20 year anniversary of World AIDS Day. The first World AIDS Day was held to draw attention to the global AIDS epidemic. Eads said that there are 33.2 million cases of AIDS world-wide and that 2.5 of those are children.
More than 2.5 million cases were diagnosed in 2007 and half of those are under the age of 25.
We have World AIDS Day to remind us that AIDS has not gone away, said Eads. We are not finished fighting this battle and we wont rest until this disease is defeated.
The Commission on HIV/AIDS is comprised completely of volunteers with the exception of staff members Debby Dimon and Nechelle Terrrel, who are with the Alexandria Health Department. The Commission advises City Council in the formation and implementation of public policy on treatment and prevention. They promote educational programs on awareness, treatment and prevention.
Before the presentation of the awards, Commissioner Lillian Thompson said that, Tonight is a celebration of the many lives saved by education and prevention.
The awards winners are:
Monte L. Jones for Client Services. Jones is a case manager at Casey Health Clinic in Alexandria. He was recognized for the outstanding service he provides to his clients and his dedication to their health and well-being. As his citation read, In addition to caring for his clients, Mr. Jones has built relationships with various local agencies and community partners to ensure adequate resources, services, and responsiveness to the needs of people living with HIV.
Todd Brown for Prevention and Education. Brown, director of education at Northern Virginia AIDS
Ministry, has been instrumental in providing educational opportunities to youth throughout Alexandria schools, recreation centers, and church sponsored events. As a pastor of a local Baptist church he uses his leadership in the faith community to encourage other pastors and churches to get involved in the fight against HIV.
Nechelle Terrell for Lifetime Achievement. Terrell was selected for this award by her peers for her dedication, both professionally and in her private life, to the eradication of HIV in Alexandria and the surrounding community. She has coordinated numerous events and as Chair of the Northern Virginia HIV Prevention and Education Committee, her outreach extends to Arlington and Fairfax Counties. She was praised for her innovation in her efforts to raise awareness.
A special award was presented to Philip Bailey, the 2008 Outstanding Service Award. Bailey is a consumer advocate for AIDS Awareness and he has been an activist and lobbyist for many years. He was recognized for his commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention and education by the Prevention and Education Committee of the Northern Virginia HIV Consortium.
When he was called to the podium to make a few remarks, he stood silently for a few moments and then with a catch in his voice said, Ive been HIV positive for 17 years. I want to remind all of us what this day is all about. Our brothers and sisters who have gone, especially my friends Alan, Ivory, Doug, Craig, Richard, Albert and Dale. I appreciate the opportunity Ive had to help other people. Im very appreciative.
The evening concluded with an original composition written and played by Commissioner Gina Gunn. I wrote a song about how personal this is. We all want to be supported by friends and family.