AIDS MEMORIAL UPDATE
A presentation by the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force was made at a recent meeting of the Metro San Diego Community Development Corporation (Metro SD CDC).
The task force — co-chaired by San Diego’s first lady Katherine Stuart Faulconer and longtime activist and San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez — has led the charge with raising awareness, fundraising and finding a permanent home for the memorial, which would honor thousands of San Diegans who lost their battle with the disease.
“[Today] families don’t have a place to go to remember their loved ones,” said Susan Jester, the representing member of the AIDS Memorial Task Force at the meeting.
Jester, along with Katherine Johnston and Jen Lebron, representatives of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office, appeared Oct. 10 before the group to give an outline of the AIDS Memorial project, planned to be located in a Bankers Hill park.
The Metro SD CDC is a nonprofit that serves the Uptown communities of Bankers Hill/Park West, Five Points/Middletown and the western slope neighborhoods of Mission Hills.
Metro SD CDC administrator Leo Wilson had invited the task force to the Oct. 10 meeting, to meet the development group in person. In a meeting last May, the Metro SD CDC had endorsed the preliminary plan to posit the memorial in Olive Park.
A small parcel of land within Maple Canyon near the corner of Third Avenue and Olive Street in Bankers Hill, Olive Park is close in proximity to Truax House, the former home of Dr. Brad Truax and the first facility to offer AIDS-related services.
A total of 8,000 people have died in San Diego of AIDS/HIV since the 1980s, Jester said at the Metro SD CDC meeting, adding that San Diego is the only large American city without an AIDS/HIV Memorial.
“The 1980s were like a holocaust situation,” Jester said. “We want to remember that time in our history so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Jester founded Walk for Life in 1984, the precursor to what is now called AIDS Walk and Run San Diego.
The memorial will come one step closer to being a reality Nov. 1, when the Uptown Planners meet at 6 p.m. at the Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center in Hillcrest listen to plans for the long-awaited park.
Katherine Stuart Faulconer and Nicole Murray Ramirez, co-chairs of the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force, were unable to attend the meeting with SD Metro CDC, but will be at the Uptown Planners meeting, which is open to the public.
The total project will cost $1.2 million and will take 25 months to build, said Johnston, a planner in the mayor’s office said, at the meeting. The memorial would open to the public by summer 2019.
For more information on the AIDS Memorial, visit tinyurl.com/hrgz8cp. To keep up with the AIDS Memorial Task Force, follow them on Facebook.com/SDAIDSMemorial.
UNEXPECTED CHANGES AT SDHDF
The San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, the longstanding philanthropic organization that has served the local LGBT community since 1996, is in the middle of a financial shake-up.
On Oct. 7, the nonprofit hired an independent certified public accountant to review its books and “conduct a thorough and careful review of the organization’s financials.”
The organization also cancelled its annual Aston-Brooks gala, which had been on the calendar and promoted for December, with Lea DeLaria of “Orange is the New Black” as the headliner.
“The Board of Directors regards its responsibility to protect the Foundation’s operating income and assets seriously,” said Joselyn Harris, board president of SDHDF in a press release announcing the audit. “Therefore, we are imposing strict cost cutting measures which include placing on hold some foundation projects to address a shortfall in fundraising income.”
The board plans complete transparency and integrity during the process, stating that they will plan to provide information whenever it is available in the coming weeks as they move forward as well as details on any actions they take.
“The Board of Directors did not make these decisions lightly or hastily,” Harris stated in the release. “We are committed to continuing the mission of the Foundation — to fund programs and projects that promote equal treatment, tolerance, wellness, well-being, and human dignity.”
Four days later, the organization made another big announcement; Roderick Reinhart, former board president, had taken over as interim executive director, replacing longtime former executive director John Brown.
A press release stated that Reinhart, who is retired, previously served on the SDHDF board from 2002-06 and as president in 2003 and 2004. He originally got involved at the behest of the late Bill Beck, one of SDHDF’s founders, soon after its launch.
“It is an honor for me to once again provide leadership services to the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation,” Reinhart stated in the press release announcing his emergency appointment. “The organization is very near and dear to my heart.”
Community leaders lauded Reinhart’s return in the release, and Harris stated the board was grateful for the community’s support “in this time of delicate transition.”
According to the press release, Reinhart’s first tasks will to “assess the Foundation’s financial strength and stability,” and renew fundraising activities.
For more information, visit sdhdf.org.