Written By: Julie Lewis, Founder of The 30/30 Project
Every World AIDS Day since 1988 has had a theme. This year’s theme is MY HEALTH, MY RIGHT, focusing on every person’s right to health and the challenges that many HIV+ people have in accessing healthcare. One of the organizations that has had an impact in my life as an HIV positive woman is the Seattle-based BABES Network.
The BABES Network has been helping HIV+ women access health care for the last 28 years and is now part of the YWCA’s health services. BABES YWCA supports, educates, and empowers HIV-positive women and serves as a healthcare advocate for women and their families. In the 1990’s, I was only one of a handful of HIV+ women living in Spokane. By the end of the decade, several of those women had died. It was at a time when I felt so incredibly isolated that I discover the BABES Network. I was very grateful to be able to attend the BABES Network retreat in Port Townsend 18 years ago where I met many women who were navigating this disease. Learning about medication and treatment options with this community of women allowed us to feel empowered and enforced the fact that we are not alone in this. I made the wreath in the photo above at this retreat nearly two decades ago and it hangs on my wall each holiday season to remind me of this community.
BABES is still offering that yearly retreat today! Here are some comments from the retreat last August:
“I always felt so alone until I went”
“My fatigue is a constant battle”
“I never feel as if I have to go about this challenge alone or without hope”
These are quotes I could have said myself 18 years ago. Thank you BABES Network for continuing to do this very important work.
The 30/30 Project and Construction for Change are excited to announce this World AIDS Day that we will be partnering with the BABES Network YWCA to renovate their client spaces and health wing of the downtown YWCA!
This renovation is slated to start in summer 2018 and will be our second local project. It will also be an opportunity for the whole community to get involved as Construction for Change partners with construction companies and other volunteers on our local projects. We will not only be making aesthetic updates, but also improving the lighting, heating, and maximizing the client spaces in the 100 plus year old YWCA building.
The 30/30 Project believes that healthcare is a human right and that the women who come for health services at the YWCA deserve to say… MY RIGHT, MY HEALTH this World AIDS Day!