At an open house on World AIDS Day (December 1), AIDS Vancouver honoured three individuals for their contributions and dedication to the HIV movement.
AIDS Vancouver previously presented the first five Red Ribbon Awards to May McQueen, Gordon Price, Noah Stewart, Brian Willoughby, and the late Bob Tivey, the first executive director of AIDS Vancouver, on July 30 at the organization's 30th anniversary celebration at the Commodore Ballroom.
Dr. Peter Centre board member Irene Goldstone presented the first of three Red Ribbon awards to Ann Beaufoy, who was one of her colleagues.
Goldstone said she watched Beaufoy over the years as she became involved in many publications, became an advisor to the board of AIDS Vancouver, and received numerous awards.
"It's very fitting at this stage of Ann's life and early retirement that she be acknowledged for the great contribution that she made to HIV and the care of people," Goldstone said.
In her acceptance speech, Beaufoy said she still couldn't believe she was chosen as a honouree.
"Because I feel what I did helped everybody and it was tough doing it because we didn't know much about HIV but slowly we learned," she said.
She talked about how she remembered when they made the decision to stop using disposable food trays for HIV–positive patients at St. Paul's Hospital in the mid-1980s. The practice of serving food on Styrofoam and plastic was based upon fears about tranmission of the virus, despite research proving that such precautions were unnecessary.
May McQueen, AIDS Vancouver's longest-serving volunteer who previously received a Red Ribbon award, presented an award to Jackie Haywood of Positive Living BC.
"Thank you to the many, many people in this room who worked beside me and laughed beside me and were there for the hard years and the freedom years and the future," Haywood said. "I feel very privileged and lucky to have chosen this path and I've grown.…It's privilege, it's a pleasure, we still laugh, and there's...work ahead of us."
Dr. Brian Willoughby presented the third Red Ribbon award to Dr. John Blatherwick.
"At the beginning of HIV in this city…it was a very different world socially for gay and lesbian people, and with the arrival of HIV, it got that much worse," Willoughby said.
He recalled how in the early years of the epidemic, San Francisco had decided to close bathhouses, and Vancouver was debating what its response should be.
He talked about how they approached bathhouses and asked them to offer HIV/AIDS awareness brochures to their patrons. If they refused to do so, they said they would work with the city to shut down the bathhouses. Consequently, the bathhouses complied.
Blatherwick, as he received the award, talked about how times have changed.
"These are the guys that I used to work with, going to meetings and making sure that they didn't die.…When we were at our meetings...I would say, 'Where is…?' and they'd just go shake their heads. You don't understand that time, because that was a different time, and I'm so glad that you don't understand that time, and I'm so glad to see the young people here who are volunteering, who are taking this the next step forward, because it's never going to be won. It's always going to be there, but you guys are making such a difference."
AIDS Vancouver raised over $4,000 in groceries and blankets and almost $10,000 in cash on World AIDS Day.
On December 16, AIDS Vancouver will hold its annual Holiday Grocery during which they will offer festive groceries to up to 800 people.