World AIDS Day for Team Tulsa

By Paige on December 14, 2010 in AmeriCorps

World AIDS Day for Team Tulsa began as a low-key testing event a local university in the afternoon and grew into a community gathering at night.

Testing

For the past couple of years, Team Tulsa has had the opportunity to use the Student Health Center at the University of Tulsa as a temporary testing site on World AIDS Day. This year was no different. We had a slow start, but Paige and Kacie spread the word at the campus’s activity center, and soon the clients came pouring in. We were only supposed to be there until 1:00pm, but the amount of clients waiting for testing required we stay longer. Kristin, Danielle and Carolyn ended up testing about 20 TU students in less than four hours. We also gave away condoms, male and female, and literature on HIV. In the waiting area, clients were greeted with a penis model and plastic model of the female reproductive organs, demonstrating the proper insertion of a female condom. Overall, the first part of our day went pretty well. It was a great start to World AIDS Day 2010.

After resting for a bit, the team members rejoined each other at Langston University in North Tulsa. There, Tulsa CARES, a major organization specializing in the well-being of those living with HIV/AIDS, set up a feast for the World AIDS Day commemoration event “Light for Rights.” Team Tulsa set up the candles for the lighting event later in the night. People from the community gathered and mingled while a local singer/songwriter entertained until about 6:30, when the event began. A few speakers, including our very own city supervisor, Janice Nicklas, addressed the state of HIV in the world, nation and Oklahoma. Rebecca Ungerman, a delightful and boisterous local performer (who was also at our Make a Difference Day event, DIVAS), addressed the conspicuous absence of any Tulsa and Oklahoma lawmakers at the end, which received a rousing round of applause.

A church choir sang after the speakers finished, followed by a heart wrenching story of a local Native American woman who was infected with HIV 18 years ago. The team then found our stations by the doors, and led the crowd outside, giving them candles along the way. The crowd stood in darkness while Pastor Bob Lawrence of the Community of Hope church gave a solemn speech, remembering those we have lost due to HIV and AIDS. Then, one by one, the crowd lit their candles and stood in silence in the cold.
The event was overwhelming, and required personal reflection from every participant involved. The sense of togetherness and community permeated the night, and brought Team Tulsa even closer together.

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