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Marjorie J. Hill

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GMHC: Moving Forward in the Fight to End the Epidemic

Posted: 05/10/11 03:42 PM ET

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) the oldest HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organization in the nation, is moving forward! On Friday April 29, 2011 over 150 of our friends volunteers, city officials, community leaders, and donors came together to celebrate GMHC's move to 446 W. 33rd Street.

We cut the ribbon on GMHC's new and expanded home into 165,000 square feet of redesigned and renovated space. The ceremony took place in the new dining room where hot, nutritious meals will continue to be served to clients in the coming years. The welcoming and spacious dining room with 94-feet length of windows, has magenta Keith Haring artwork adorning the walls, thanks to our friends at the Keith Haring Foundation. A baby grand piano that belonged to Stephen Sondheim is also in the dining room and is played by professional pianists who volunteer during lunch and dinner service. And who cut the ribbon you ask? A Tisch family member of course! Jonathan Tisch, cut the ribbon as his mother Joan Tisch had done before him for GMHC's new home in 1996.

For close to 30 years, what makes GMHC a home, is not the house, but the people -- the people who come for services, the staff who meet client needs, the volunteers who give of their time and donors who ensure that these services can occur year in and year out. GMHC's family is about the heart and soul of all people who come here.

Our new home will enable us to extend the best services possible to the nearly 11,000 New Yorkers affected by HIV/AIDS who rely on GMHC for access to meals and nutrition counseling, an expanded food pantry, health education, access to benefits and housing, legal and social services, workforce development and so much more. The offices, meeting rooms, state-of-the-art kitchen and dining room are spread generously over two floors. We were fortunate to receive from the departing tenant, WNET, an over $4 million gift of furnishings and fixtures.

Over the 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, science has given people living with HIV and AIDS hope and longer lives and for that, we are all grateful. Yet science has not given people the tools to lead longer, more productive lives, the tools to talk about HIV to family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors, nor sufficient tools to help prevent the rate of new infections and reduce stigma attached to HIV. This new home gives us, the GMHC family, the potential and promise to provide greater opportunities for all New Yorkers affected by HIV to lead more productive lives. We will make that potential a reality today and every day.

Now, as we make this house a home, we begin a new conversation about HIV/AIDS -- an ongoing conversation that looks to current and upcoming needs. Let's keep our eye on the future of all who are affected by HIV and AIDS, on prevention and education, testing and treatment, research and practice. Together let's utilize this new home to support the GMHC family on a path forward through action to end the epidemic.

Begin by walking with me in the AIDS WALK NY on Sunday May 15. For more information and to register go to www.AIDSWalkNY.com