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"Body Positive Will Be There"

Comments by Executive Director Michael Dentato at his Welcoming Reception

November 2000

On Wednesday, September 13, 2000 the Body Positive (BP) Board of Directors officially welcomed the new Executive Director, Michael Dentato on board. A group of approximately 75 funders, supporters, and friends gathered at the CHOW restaurant in the west village to show their support of Body Positive and to wish Michael well.

When discussing the event, Dentato claimed, "The evening was so incredibly meaningful. It was great to be among so many supporters and to meet those with whom I will be working in the months ahead. I felt a real sense of unity as staff, board members, funders and friends mingled and got to know one another. It is so good to know that the work of Body Positive is appreciated by so many. The entire crowd was assured that evening that the work of Body Positive will continue in the tradition in which it began in 1987."

Following are Michael's comments at the welcoming reception.

(upper row, left to right) Von Parish/BP Board Member; Dirk McCall/Manhattan Borough President's Office, Daryl Cochrane/Congressman Nadler's Office, Gary Lacinski/HX Magazine, Michael Dentato/BP's Executive Director; (lower row, left to right) Derrick Carroll, Cliff Love/WABC-7, Shirley Scully/BP Special Events; Peter Lequeur/AIDS Institute


Good evening and thank you for such a warm reception! I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for coming tonight and especially for your support. Without the help of the entire staff of Body Positive, and the support of Dominic and the Board of Directors, this evening would not have been possible. A special thanks to Shirley Scully, Peter and Bob from CHOW, and to the Woolfer Estates/Sagpond Vineyards in East Hampton. Without all of you, tonight would not be so special.

I would like to extend a special welcome to our four new Board members, Sharon, Von, Wilma and Leo. A special thank you must be given to some of our funders and supporters here this evening as well, Senator Tom Duane, City Council Member Phil Reed, Errol Chin-Loy from the Mayor's Office, Cliff Love of WABC-7, Bill Mattle of Stonewall Foundation, Peter Laqueur of the AIDS Institute, Dirk McCall from the office of Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Daryl Cochrane of Congressman Jerrold Nadler's office, among many others.

Thirteen years ago Body Positive faced a growing epidemic head on by becoming a leader in peer-based services. Peers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS started then, and continue now, to run our support groups, answer calls on our Helpline, provide street outreach, and educate thousands throughout the N.Y.C. area on all matters, ranging from HIV prevention to managing life with AIDS.

(top, left to right) Gail Puris/Bailey House, Dana Levin/BP's Director of Volunteer & Client Support Services; Michael Dentato/BP's Executive Director, Dominic Carbone/Chairman of BP's Board of Directors (middle, from left to right) Carmen Navarro/BP's Director of Community Outreach and Education, Julio Dicent Taillerpierre/SUNY Downstate, Dennis DeLeon/Latino Commission on AIDS (bottom, from left to right) Dr. Patrick Hennessy/BP's Medical Advisory Board, Errol Chin-Loy/Mayor's office

Through the years, we have extended our services and publications throughout the gay community, within the communities of all people of color, to men, women, the incarcerated, the HIV-negative community, and all those affected by AIDS, which today is all of us. Our acquisition of the People with AIDS Coalition last summer, helped us to even further reach these communities in need.

While sitting around with a group of clinicians last week discussing mental-heath issues that face the AIDS community, I was reminded of how far we have come, but still how far our work lies ahead -- that's where BP comes into play. We have been an active part of AIDS education and prevention efforts for 13 years, and we will continue to do so.

As the face of AIDS continues to change, from the global level -- with astounding increases on the African and Asian continents -- to the local level among adolescents here at home, and as rates of re-infection rise in groups ranging from the gay community to women of color, we will be there. As treatments continue to work, as many do not, as viral resistance continues to affect many, we will be there. In fact, next Spring, our annual conference slated for March 14th at Fordham University, will address the prevalent issues of viral resistance and re-infection.

Along with planning this conference, other exciting things lie ahead at BP -- a cable modem is about to be installed, allowing us to move our website from to offer up-to-the minute treatment information, run a support group on-line, and even offer the possibility of interactive conversations with writers from our magazines.

Our upcoming fundraiser on Friday, December 1st -- World AIDS Day -- will bring together 10 HIV-positive artists who have designed a new Body Positive logo. From those 10 artists, we will choose the new logo to represent BP in the years ahead. I hope that all of you will join us for this special event at the Wessel + O'Connor Gallery in Chelsea, while supporting artists and all those living with HIV/AIDS. However, with such growth, special events, and new services, it is essential that BP remember its roots.

Therefore, training for Helpline volunteers, group facilitators and agency staff will continue. Socials, such as our successful Boat Rides and Dances will continue. In essence -- we will continue to do what we do best, be a support to all those affected by AIDS, be a visible presence in all communities, and provide peer-based services unparalleled by other agencies in New York. It is my goal to make BP the premier provider of AIDS services in New York City, so that anyone coming through our door will never feel alone or without someone by their side.

In closing, thank you so very much for your ongoing support of BP! I must tell you how I look forward to the months that lie ahead. If the past three months at the helm of BP are indicative of the future, I certainly have a lot of work on my plate. But that work is enhanced by many rewarding and enjoyable experiences as well, such as this evening.

Back to the November 2000 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.
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