In June 1987, a group of strangers in California gathered to remember the names and lives of their loved ones they feared history would forget. It was this group that first set the sewing machines at The NAMES Project Foundation in motion. Those first few memorials – sewn 25 years ago, were voices crying out the suffering of one community.
Hope Center, a community resource of Covenant Health, has been awarded a two year grant from the Arts Fund of the East Tennessee Foundation for its program Art to Remember. Financial support from the grant will help the Hope Center promote and facilitate the making of quilt panels by people in the community. The panels will be in memory of those lost locally to HIV/AIDS.
“The East Tennessee Foundation funds many projects that relate specifically to this region. Quilt making and storytelling are part of East Tennessee’s heritage, so a project that supports making quilt panels to tell individual stories creates a unique partnership between the Hope Center and East Tennessee Foundation,” said Gary Young, director of Covenant Health’s Center for Community Health.
“We anticipate that many people who will want to make panels will be family members or Hope members,” Young said. “The panels are a way to memorialize a loved one, and a way to heal after loss.” The power of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and each of the panels contained within is that it raises awareness of the loss of humanity and it replaces those numbers and statistics with faces and names. The panels illustrate the lives, potential and contributions of those lost, and demonstrate how we are all interconnected.
The Hope Center has participated in the NAMES Project in the past, and Young said the grant provides new opportunities to create quilt panels and a chance to reach out to minority communities, which have become more affected by HIV/AIDS in recent years.
Panel making workshops will provide training, materials, and support to anyone interested in making a panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Hope Center Volunteers will be recruited to make panels for those where friends and family members are not available.
On World AIDS Day 2014, Hope Center will sponsor a homecoming to have many of the Knoxville area's panels brought back to Knoxville. At the homecoming, there will also be a ceremony to dedicate the panels that have been newly created. Our “old friends” will join their “new friends” on their journey to the NAMES Project national office in Atlanta to be incorporated into the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
For more information, call (865) 541-3767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.