Local and Community News
North Carolina: Grooming for Life Celebrates 10 Years of Helping Patients
September 19, 2002
Ten years ago, hairdressers who started the Grooming for Life Cut-A-Thon for the AIDS Council of Gaston County, N.C., got disturbing phone calls and letters, threats of community protests, and had their signs torn down. "People said HIV and AIDS were God's punishment for people who are gay, and they didn't see it as something that affected them. Now those stereotypes have disappeared. People who never would have come to the Cut-A-Thon now come and bring their kids and grandchildren," said Patsy Walters, an event founder.
The event benefits the Patrick Fund, an emergency assistance fund of the AIDS council that provides HIV-positive adults and children with money to pay for shelter, utilities, medical care, food and other essentials. The fund is named for Patrick Splawn, a Gaston County native and North Gaston High School graduate who died of AIDS in 1989 at age 23. Since its inception, the fund has received more than 1,000 requests for assistance and has distributed more than $160,000. According to the Gaston County Health Department, 635 county residents have been diagnosed with HIV since 1986. Of those, 257 have developed AIDS.
The benefit began when the Gaston Cosmetology Association asked the AIDS council to speak to local hairdressers after one member died of AIDS in 1989. In 10 years, the event has raised $100,000. The number of participating salons has tripled, and in addition to haircuts, the benefit now offers manicures, pedicures and massages. Professionals from 19 area salons will provide services in exchange for donations to the AIDS council this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Gaston Mall. A live auction begins at 1 p.m., followed by a raffle at 4 p.m. Volunteers are needed; for more information telephone 704-853-5238 or 704-853- 5101.
09.15.02; Leigh Pressley
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.