Every November, for the past 23 years, the Boston Living Center (BLC) has gathered people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones together to celebrate the joy of life. Almost two years after merging with Victory Programs, the BLC and its most heartfelt tradition live on.
On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, at 5:30pm Victory Programs’ Boston Living Center will host the Celebration of Life Thanksgiving Dinner at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. When the BLC was founded in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, those gathered never knew if they would be around for their next holiday. Today, guests celebrate the advances in HIV/AIDS medicine and healthcare that allow them the opportunity to live long, healthy lives.
As many as 700 people, those living with HIV/AIDS—and their loved ones, will gather for a full Thanksgiving meal. All of the food, including 500 pounds of turkey and 120 pies, decorations and technology has been generously donated by local businesses and nonprofits, making the event free and open to anyone living with HIV/AIDS in the Commonwealth.
“The Boston Living Center’s annual joyous Celebration of Life dinner is one of the most beautiful, spirited and important events in our city of Boston,” says Victory Programs’ President and CEO Jonathan Scott. “Of the near 1,000 attendees—guests and volunteers—each has in some way endured loss in the history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and each participates in giving comfort and support. In the true spirit of celebration, this dinner gathering creates a sparkling room of hope and community. There is no better place to be as we begin the holiday season.”
The event will feature entertainment by Lakia Mondale, Michael O’Connor and Woza Moya, and One Love, a chorus of HIV positive teens. Liz Walker, former WBZ newscaster and current minister at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. Other local celebrities and community leaders on hand to serve the Thanksgiving meal include Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, AIDS Action Committee Executive Director Rebecca Haag, Doug Berman and Ray Magliozzi of NPR’s Car Talk, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett and State Representatives Gloria Fox, Liz Malia and Jay Livingstone.
The evening will include special recognition of Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his commitment to HIV/AIDS services throughout his 20-year career. The winners of the 2013 Peter Daniel Clark Award, co-owners of Boston’s Club Café Jim Morgrage and Frank Ribaudo, will also be recognized for their commitment to the HIV/AIDS community.
The Celebration of Life is Victory Programs’ largest fundraiser, raising more than $100,000 to ensure vital HIV/AIDS programming is preserved.
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