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Texas: Tarrant County AIDS Volunteers Commemorate 20 Years of Battle

July 29, 2011

Twenty years ago, despite the ignorance and stigma then surrounding HIV/AIDS, Tarrant County residents developed a grassroots support network and founded the county's Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt chapter

Genie Quincy recalled that, when her son was dying of AIDS in 1987, the only available assistance came from the Oak Lawn Counseling Center in Dallas. And, while many funeral homes shunned the remains of people who had died of AIDS, Guy Thompson of Thompson's Harveson & Cole Funeral was a "very good friend" and always willing to help, she said.

According to Quincy, the county's local response began "in a small dingy office beside a gay nightclub ... We reached out to the few people we were aware of who were sick."

"We would visit, clean, and reach out in love and acceptance. Some of the circumstances we saw were shocking, for many had been abandoned by families," Quincy continued. "Others were being cared for by mothers who were overwhelmed as they faced the inevitable [with] their gay sons who were often angry, depressed and withdrawn."

Yet, joining the other 33 chapters of the memorial quilt project and "walking into a room filled with bright-colored works of art representing the lives" of loved ones provided some comfort, said Quincy. "When I made my son's panel in 1988, I had never seen the quilt ... How little did I know that in many ways, especially in the early years, it would become him in my emotions."

The national memorial quilt has grown to nearly 1.3 million feet, commemorating more than 44,000 individuals with 3-by-6 square-foot panels listing more than 91,000 names. The Fort Worth chapter of the quilt project plans to reunite on Saturday. For more information, contact Quincy at 940-452-2214.

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Excerpted from:
Fort Worth Star Telegram
07.24.2011; Ray Sanders

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