Speak softly and carry a big stick.
If you know me, you know that helping low-income individuals living with HIV is one of those things that is extremely close to my heart. My affiliation with Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care and Heartland Health Outreach is well-known at this point. Every year in the fight against HIV and AIDS presents new and difficult challenges.
With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the country has been plunged into a “Hunger Games”-esque battle – against each other and the administration against the people. It is a dark time in our country. Those who are affected most by the short-sighted, class-warfare of recent Congressional decisions are those already the most vulnerable in our society. This is not who Americans are as a people. Withholding health care, transforming it from a human right to an economic commodity is a disgusting way to present ourselves to the world.
The participants of programming at Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care are anyone and everyone you’ve ever known. They’re mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These individuals live with the impact of HIV and AIDS each day. Services provided by Vital Bridges and Heartland help the greater family of our community retain their dignity as our government – STATE and FEDERAL – fails them as a collective humanity.
There is a compound impact this year. Vital Bridges serves a substantial number of clients who are immigrants to the United States. Our clients are fearful of being yanked off sidewalks to be sent to federal detention centers in parts-unknown with little or no communication with their families. For this reason, we have experienced a decline in participation by some of our clients. They are simply too fearful to risk the distance between their homes and the pickup location.
I didn’t think that I would see this day come during my lifetime. I’m ashamed of my government. The past few years of budgetary gridlock in Illinois has meant that social service organizations are hanging on by threads to get by. The government is literally attempting to starve social service entities into extinction. We must raise more funds and be more vigilant as advocates for the causes that affect us most.
As I mentioned in my plea for last year’s race, the inability of the Illinois House and Governor Bruce Rauner to get on the same page is shaking down low-income Illinois residents – with HIV and without. There has been no meaningful return on his “expense reductions.” His concessions to big business to stay in Illinois benefit a handful of executives at the cost of budget dollars needed for the state budget.
Please consider a donation to my campaign for the 2017 AIDS Run/Walk Chicago … in the alternative, you may consider a direct donation to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Heartland Health Outreach, the Ruth Rothstein CORE Center, Planned Parenthood, Erie Family Health, or one of the many other excellent social service organization serving Chicagoans with HIV and AIDS.
Thank you, and much love,
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