A Response of Love, Support and Determination from Sheri Wood, NAFC Board Member and Past Board President...
On Saturday night, I spent the evening at the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Heartland Men's Chorus concert "I Rise." It was a time to remember the fear felt at the time of their founding with the devastation of HIV/AIDS on the gay community; the anger and hatred shown to the gay community; and the discrimination and shame foisted on their community by so many. I remembered many friends lost to the ravages of the disease and many that struggled with the hatred and alienation from their families of origin and community.
That night, however, was also a celebration of how far we have come since that time with the LGBT community now welcomed and embraced, with men referring to their loved ones openly as their husbands or women to their wives. Many are now embraced by their family of origin as well as their families of choice. It was a time to celebrate the wisdom, determination and courage of those that risked so much to take a stand and make change.
And then Sunday morning, I awoke to the stark reality that, although we have come so far, there is still so far to go. Through the senseless act of one man, today there are hundreds of people mourning the loss of brothers, sisters, husbands and wives, friends, and children. Hundreds, whose lives will be forever changed as a result of an act of terror and hatred. It is a devastating blow to this community.
As the day progressed, we witnessed an outpouring of love and concern for the LGBT community in Orlando and across the country. The response was of love, support and determination and not of hatred. Once more, from the depths of destruction, the best of humanity emerged -- people helping people and refusing to be destroyed.
Since our founding, at the Clinic we have reached out to all communities. The eight core values to support our mission begin with "Respecting the Dignity of Each Individual" and "Serving a Diverse Community." These two values intentionally lead the others as they are at the center and core of all that we do and have done since our founding 45 years ago.
We will continue to serve the LGBT community with determination and care as we serve all who come to our doors, many of whom are marginalized by their sexual orientation or identity, economic conditions, education, age, race or ethnicity.
In the days ahead, as we reflect on what we can do, I urge you to continue as we always do: reach out to those in need, extend your hand, continue to assist them on their journey and show care. Remind them all that the Kansas City CARE Clinic continues to be a welcoming place for all, especially the LGBT community. And, whatever your faith, extend a prayer or thought for those struggling in Orlando as they begin their journey of healing.
With hope for a better future.
President and CEO of Kansas City CARE Clinic