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Join me this holiday season in making a gift to Casey House.  I still give because I continue to be inspired to see Casey House serve the HIV community with innovative, inclusive approaches to care; to see clients feel included as part of a movie night, a healthy cooking activity, or a roundtable discussion.

Richard Silver, Casey House volunteer, donor and former chair of the board of directors

richard-silverprincessdianajunecallwoodrichardsilverYou may remember the abject fear experienced by so many in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.  To be young and gay at that time was to be afraid of rejection by family, friends, and society.  We were a community in crisis; injured by stigma and loss.  Those of us still left standing felt vulnerable and exposed, yet inspired to fight for change.

I was one of many who saw the desperate need for a compassionate hand; to embrace AIDS patients with love and kindness.  Amidst the fear and stigma, Casey House was established as a place where a person would no longer feel isolated, and would be treated with dignity.  It still took Princess Diana’s monumental visit to Casey House 25 years ago to shine a light on HIV internationally, with her moving gesture of gloveless, maskless embraces.

Today, HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, although it continues to be a serious health threat, and Casey House has evolved to address the tremendously complex needs facing its clients.

Sadly, what hasn’t changed in 28 years is the discrimination and marginalization felt by men and women living with HIV.  Stigma leads to isolation and many Casey House clients feel alone, rejected from family and society, just as our community felt in the 80s.

As a member of the Casey House community you understand the need for programs that reduce isolation and break the cycle of pain affecting the most vulnerable clients. As we approach the holiday season, this feeling of isolation is magnified.

Please join me in giving a gift that will ensure clients like Rodney, who describes the stigma he’s faced for being HIV+ as “devastating”, can experience a sense of belonging at Casey House.

Rodney has lived with HIV for more than 35 years and has multiple health challenges, but it wasn’t until he had a stroke that he needed Casey House. 

Rodney’s health was in decline, and he was isolated and very lonely; Rodney has no family or friends in Toronto. When his health deteriorated many people assumed it was HIV related.  Since having his stroke people gawk, “even within the [gay] community people stare and judge”, says Rodney.

For Rodney, the best way to overcome his isolation has been to take advantage of the recreation programs at Casey House.  In addition to receiving care and monitoring from a community nurse, connecting with others through the healthy cooking program and the cognitive memory group give him a lift.  The massage therapy he receives gives him added mobility for a few days at a time.

Rodney is one of hundreds of clients for whom stigma is a barrier to improving health, “isolation can be a horrible thing”, he says.  Feelings of isolation are magnified during holidays that centre around family, and the Christmas season can be especially lonely.  For Rodney, Casey House offers a home environment in the absence of any other.  Casey House’s recreation therapy program brings clients together in fellowship, offering opportunities to come together and celebrate the joy of the season.  Without judgement, clients experience a sense of normalcy, and become energized, even motivated.

Join me this holiday season in making a gift to Casey House.  I still give because I continue to be inspired to see Casey House serve the HIV community with innovative, inclusive approaches to care; to see clients feel included as part of a movie night, a healthy cooking activity, or a roundtable discussion.

Together, our gifts will ensure the sustainability of programs that embrace clients and let them know they are not alone. 

Every gift makes a difference. Whether you give one gift today or make a longer term commitment as a monthly donor, your contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Richard Silver