BSU’s AIDS quilt raises $471 for Dooley House

A small but dedicated group of students stayed on campus after most had cleared out for Easter weekend to see the Black Student Union (BSU) display patches from its AIDS Quilt fundraiser last Friday. The quilt raised money for AIDS awareness and its display marked the end of BSU’s first AIDS Awareness Week, which spanned from March 21-25.

According to Paul Harris, BSU trustee, the patches went on sale two weeks ago. The 12-by-12 cloth squares were sold for $5 each to individuals and $7 to groups or departments. Harris said the quilt raised $471 and the club sold about 51 patches.

Combined with the drag show that it hosted with the Gay Union of Trenton State at TCNJ (GUTS) and Residence Life, BSU raised $775 for Dooley House of Camden, a nonprofit organization that cares for people with HIV.

Buyers had a week to return the squares to BSU for inclusion on the quilt, though not all were returned by Friday. Many that were made came from groups, including one set of four patches from the entire floor of Wolfe 3. Others came from the Panhellenic organization, the Order of the Golden Lion and the track and field teams.

“Fight for a cure, AIDS no more,” read a patch from TCNJ Cheerleading.

“RIP Dad,” read another patch, unsigned.

Others emphasized the importance of AIDS awareness.

“Knowing is beautiful,” read one patch with the AIDS ribbon on it.

Students were both impressed and optimistic about the quilt’s potential.

“I think (the quilt) is a wonderful idea and I hope to see it grow as the years go on,” Felicia Chestnut, junior elementary education psychology major, said.

“Even though the quilt isn’t put together yet, I can tell it will be great,” Tamaria Green, freshman sociology major, said, prior to the display.

Pamela Sellers, executive director of Dooley House, which received the proceeds from the quilt, said that the organization first started in 1988 to care for HIV-positive children, but it has since expanded to care for all people with HIV.

The Dooley House transports clients to medical appointments and support groups, provides housing for individuals with HIV and AIDS and offers a peer mentoring group to help HIV-positive clients obtain needed services.

According to Sellers, thanks to current drugs, 85 percent of the children that the Dooley House takes in tests HIV-negative, despite birth to HIV-positive parents. But, she said this is only true if it is the first or second child. Later children have a much higher risk of receiving the disease.

“It’s an ongoing saga,” Sellers said. “It’s getting a lot, lot better but the struggle is still not over.”

Though GUTS also hosts an AIDS awareness week, Harris said it was important that BSU hold one as well.

“It’s valuable that both (have weeks) because it’s so important to both communities,” he said. “It’s important we raise the consciousness through our programming.”

To help with that, at the quilt presentation BSU had a table stocked with pamphlets and fact sheets about HIV and AIDS, explaining ways to prevent getting the virus. Condoms were also available as a way to promote safe sex.

For BSU, the week full of events was hard work but also worthwhile.

“For the most part, things went really well,” Brittany Horne, vice president of student affairs for BSU and organizer of the week, said. “I was proud.”