#HCRA2019 First Joy Ride

Today was the first training ride for April’s Hill Country Ride For AIDS. I’m going to post several pictures, and tell y’all about the agencies that benefit from it. I’m not riding because I’m not recovered from my cold of 2 weeks ago. I’m going to ride a shorter, flatter route in my neighborhood this afternoon.

Here’s me and our wonderful Ride Director, Prentiss Douthat:

Prentiss has done such great work managing the Ride the past several years. This is his last year as Director, his replacement will have a lot to live up to.

The Ride benefits 9 agencies that help people with HIV & AIDS. As one speaker put it this morning they go from prevention through helping people live with AIDS to people who need hospice care.

Here’s the story of a woman helped by The Wright House: “My name is Annette Y. K. and I recently began receiving services from The Wright House Wellness Center. In a nutshell THE WRIGHT HOUSE lS CHANGING MY LIFE! I have drudged through 15 long years of medical negativity, mental anguish, and no help for my daughter’s stress level and emotions. The Wright House has addressed all of these issues and many more without once making me feel uncomfortable, out of place, judged or a burden. The Wright House helped me see I was not alone. And my beautiful l5 yr. old daughter, Jessica, is able to release years of pent up anger, hurt, rejection and pain for the first time in her life. To see her smile again, to hear her sing again, and to see the spark coming back in her eyes; these are things I was afraid I would never see again in Jessica. The Wright House is a safe place for her to talk with people who understand. That alone takes an unbelievable amount of weight off my shoulders and my heart. Once I opened the door at The Wright House I felt like the most important person in the world. A Peace came over me that I had not felt in years. I was greeted with smiles and handshakes by everyone I encountered. The staff was so kind and gentle. I was touched by their unconditional care. And when leaving I was given a hug or two. That’s very rare in my life.”

And here’s the story of someone who is getting help from the Waterloo Counseling Center: “It took me almost a year after I found out I have HIV to even tell anyone. I was only 24 at the time, and I thought my life was over. I wanted to talk to someone, but I just couldn’t deal with it. I wouldn’t even see a doctor because I thought that getting on meds would mean I was dying. I lost a lot of sleep, until I called Waterloo Counseling Center. At first, I just couldn’t talk about my HIV, even to my counselor. But he waited me out. He sure was patient! I finally opened up, and that’s when everything changed. My counselor helped me focus on “living with HIV” instead of “dying of HIV.” I felt like a burden had been lifted. I even worked up the courage to find a doctor and get on medication for my HIV. I was really surprised to notice that for the first time in a long time, I felt optimistic about taking care of myself. I know now that I have a future, and I’d better start planning for it! So I enrolled in college and am looking forward to what life brings. I can’t thank my Waterloo counselor enough.”

please help more people like them at my Hill Country Ride Page

Here’s a picture from this morning of the people getting ready for the training ride — such a gorgeous mosaic of humanity:

And here’s the story of a man who takes care of his six grandchildren with help from Community Action — this is the one that gets me every time I read it: “I have been a client of Community Action’s Rural AIDS Service Program for years. The compassion and sheer dedication of this agency continually amazes me. My spouse and I have had long term custody of six of our grandchildren. Without Community Action I know I would not still be healthy today and providing a safe, happy home for them. I believe this assistance is why my blended family has not only survived, but is now thriving. From a listening ear and assistance locating community resources to help with food, clothing, and gas for medical appointments, the existence of this agency has literally transformed my life. There aren’t many things in life you can count on so being able to count on this agency has been and remains a huge blessing in my life. I don’t know what I would have done, or where my family would be today without it.” and a story from The Care Communities: “Hello my name is Jack Foster. I was diagnosed with AIDS in June of 2010, which I got from a girlfriend. They gave me one year to live and sent me to Doug’s House to die. They didn’t know the care I would get, and here I am almost a year later, now living in my very own place! I am able to get around, but I need help from the volunteers of The Care Communities. They help me with groceries, getting to the doctor, and just someone to talk to. They helped me move from various apartments and find furniture for my current apartment. We also go out for coffee and they have taken me out to the circus and crop mazes. The volunteers I have from The Care Communities are great, I don’t know what I would do without them.”

and a story from Project Transitions that made me cry: “Jeff was a resident at Doug’s House for four separate occasions over a seven-year period. During that time, Jeff established himself as an integral part of the story of Doug’s House. Each time he came to Doug’s House he had experienced a significant decline, resulting in him no longer being able to live independently. At Doug’s House, Jeff was able to receive the critical services he needed, such as a safe place to stay and access to meals and medications. When asked how he felt about coming back to Doug’s House most recently, Jeff stated, “I feel like I’m coming home.” Jeff died peacefully at Doug’s House. Jeff’s mom stated about the staff, “They are the most loving, caring, professional group of people. I don’t know how we could have done it without them.” Jeff was always so grateful for the support he received at Doug’s House. If he were alive today, he would want to say “Thank You” to all of the supporters of the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Your support helps to continue the great work of Project Transitions.”

Here’s a story of a woman being helped by AIDS Services of Austin: “Nine years ago, I got a flu that I couldn’t shake. Months went by and I wasn’t getting any better. I had a persistent fever, cough, and aching body. Visit after visit to the doctor, I was finally tested for HIV. When the doctor spoke with me about the results, I remember he started by telling me everything was fine, that my T cell count was up, that my viral load was way down, and that for the most part I was healthy, except….I was HIV+. I immediately felt a shroud of fear, abandonment, and disbelief come over me. The doctor left my exam room for just a moment and immediately I began to think about the end of my life. I felt so alone. There is so much stigma associated with being HIV+; so much to think about when dating or creating friendships. I’m cautious about whom I reveal my status too, but I reveal it often to help people see that mine too, is the face of someone with HIV. I use it as an opportunity to educate folks, to help remove some of the stigma. I joined the Women Rising Project at AIDS Services of Austin so that I could learn from the experiences that other women with HIV and AIDS face. I joined the Women Rising Project because I needed a fellowship of people who empower, encourage, and educate me. I needed a group of people to build me up and support me in reaching my goals. When I first found out that I was positive, I felt so demoralized. But with my faith and with the Women Rising Project, I have transformed. Now I want to be a motivational speaker, and help young women and girls avoid the challenges I have faced in my life. I am so overwhelmingly willing to talk about my story, to absorb as much information as I can to maintain my health, and to reach out to others to encourage and empower them. I think my story is a story of success.

and here’s something about Allgo, a statewide organization for queer people of color: “Allgo’s story is about the numerous clients who come to allgo for information and referrals for HIV testing. This is a vital resource to their health and wellness. They have expressed that many places will only allow them to take a couple of condoms at a time, and that because they are able to get the amount of supplies they need from Allgo, this contributes to their ability to take care of themselves. They have also expressed how they feel very comfortable coming to Allgo where they don’t feel scrutinized, questioned, or interrogated for trying to protect themselves. Your commitment and dedication to the Hill Country Ride for AIDS helps us do the work we need to do to provide this safe space for some of the most marginalized people living in Austin who are at high risk.”

And another pic from this morning. This Ride is such an example of how we wish the world was, people of all ages & abilities getting together to make a difference:

This is just some of the direct help to people you give when you give to the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Please donate at my Hill Country Ride Page

And just so you know this isn’t an impostor, here’s the obligatory U2 song. I’m using Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way. Because I think that’s such an important message. Love this video with LGBTQ youth from Dublin:

For my birthday on Friday, I’d love $55 donations for the Hill Country Ride For AIDS

My birthday is Friday, I’m doing the Hill Country Ride again this year & I’d really love $55 donations, but really any donation is more than welcome. My goal is $2,000 this year. They really need it. With the cuts the Orange One’s administration wants — and when he’s gone, we’ll have President Pence who will be even worse, especially for AIDS services — they really, really need it. Please donate at my Hill Country Ride page.

All my armor comes from you (an AIDS Walk Austin diary – there’s another match Wednesday)

So, first thing, there is another $100 match Wednesday, and another chance to win South By Southwest wristbands if I raise $250. If I get to $250, and if I win the wristbands (2 big ifs) I’ll put the names of all of today’s donors in my own drawing & give someone the other wristband, since I can’t use 2.

Here is my AIDS Walk Austin page.

AIDS Walk Austin is less than a month away – update: $100 match today

Becky's Page

****the 1st 50 people to raise $100today will get that amount matched**** please share this around!

I know, I know — it’s election time & there are so many great candidates asking for donations. But you know what will still be going on on November 7? AIDS. People affected by HIV & AIDS will still need their meds, will still need specialized dental care; and people whose illness has progressed will still need the food bank &/or the home cooked meals that donations provide. Please, if you can, spare a few dollars to help people at my AIDS Walk Austin page.

This will be my 31st  AIDS Walk Austin – I’ve done every damn one of them. I love the AIDS Walk & the Ride (the spring fundraiser for the same organizations) and the people who work at AIDS Services of Austin & the other agencies. They are an example of how we should be — caring for each other, carrying each other. If you haven’t met me, I’m just a teensy bit of a U2 fan, so yeah that was a reference to a song.

One love, one blood, one life, you got to do what you should.
One life with each other: sisters, brothers.
One life, but we’re not the same.
We get to carry each other, carry each other.
One, one.

My goal is $5,000 this year. I’ve raised $645. They really need it. With the cuts the Orange One’s administration has proposed — and even if we get rid of him, we’d have President Pence who would be even worse, especially for AIDS services — they really, really need it. Please donate at my AIDS Walk page. Please pass this around, ask people I don’t know. This isn’t going to plush offices or research that should be funded by the government. This goes to literally help people — feed them, help with meds, a dental clinic, wellness activities…  Please donate, and if you can’t donate, share.

The theme for the Walk this year is “step to zero” — that every step we take gets us closer to zero new infections. Won’t that be wonderful? Please help AIDS Services of Austin & the other agencies get us there. And here’s a song for you to listen to while you go to my AIDS Walk Austin page & donate:

I don’t know about you, but I could use some warm fuzzies – an AIDS Walk diary

it’s hard to read, but it says: “love is bigger than anything in its way”

So we’ve all been hearing the awfulness brought out by the Kavanaugh hearings. Some of us are reliving/remembering some pretty awful things. I can’t deal with any more horror/disgust/sadness. I can’t go back and re-do the past, make those things not happen. What I can do is try to make now better. I’m writing a diary filled with warm fuzzies. And asking for donations for AIDS Walk Austin.

My first AIDS Walk diary for 2018

Hi. So if you look at my posting history, it’s 99% AIDS Walk & AIDS Ride diaries. Yeah, back in May I posted about going to the U2 concert in Chicago. But really — it’s about the Walk & the Ride; and heading into the fall season, it’s #AIDSWalkATX. This year, it’s in early November:

In its 31st year, AIDS Walk Austin returns to Republic Square on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Benefiting ten sharing agencies including AIDS Services of Austin, this event brings together people (and pets) from all walks of life!

AIDS Walk Austin attracts 1,000+ people annually for an afternoon of celebration and remembrance of those affected by HIV. This year, the Walk will partner with the Farmer’s Market to create an amazing festival atmosphere that will be fun for the families, friends, and pets.

Together, we can add up the steps to equal Zero new infections.

It shouldn’t need to be so f*cking hard, it’s just life on earth ($750 donation match for AIDS Ride)

Hi there. So most of my diaries are about the AIDS Walk or the AIDS Ride. And they all have U2 videos — this one will, too. But the title comes from a song from a different band. Shocking, I know. But the man who wrote it said this is the song he’s proudest of in his career, and it’s gorgeous and true and heartbreaking — and I knew I should use it for an appeal to the heart about the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Today starting at 11:30, my team, the Wheelie Nelsons, has a matching challenge, so please donate anything you can.

So back to the title. Snow Patrol released this song a few days ago, and I’m obsessed. I can’t stop listening to it. Here’s the chorus:

This is not love you’ve had before
This is something else
This is something else
This is not the same as other days
This is something else
This is something else
Shouldn’t need to be so fucking hard
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
It doesn’t need to be the end of you, or me
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth

The lyricist is writing about his own struggles, but the words are so universal — they made me think about the difficulties people have with HIV/AIDS. Here’s a link to the video (of the 389,000 views, I think I’m probably 1,000 of them)

And here are some quotes about helping, matched with heartwarming stories about how your donations have helped people:

Marie T. Freeman
If you’re too busy to give your neighbor a helping hand, then you’re just too darned busy.

Sam is 50 years old and has been living with AIDS for over 16 years, receiving assistance from AIDS Services of Austin periodically for ten years. There she has found a connection with others who have the same needs. She has an outlet to give back by exchanging her story and encouraging others to live in a positive way. The help she has received through ASA’s Food Bank and the Medical Nutrition Therapy program has truly transformed her life.Sam became a success story because of YOU who have donated.  There are thousands more who need you too, and the numbers keep rising.

and you can help by donating at
my Hill Country Ride page

Helen Keller

Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.

Maria is 27 years old.  She had been positive for several years when she discovered she was pregnant. She moved into Roosevelt Gardens, where she had a nice place to call home with rent she could afford. With the support of Project Transitions’ HIV Services and the David Powell Health Center, she had a healthy pregnancy and her baby boy was born healthy and HIV negative. Now she is back at work, and thanks to you has the resources and support she needs to care for her son.We want to keep people like Maria healthy. People with AIDS deal with so many other illnesses that exacerbate each other and the agencies we fund address the full care continuum. Staying healthy pre-empts expensive illnesses that make people miss work or lose their jobs – it keeps people going. For every $100 spent on keeping people healthy and on their health care, we save $1,000 on expensive emergency room visits. It just makes sense not just for our hearts, but also for the whole community.

Woodrow Wilson

There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.

Project TransitionsProject Transitions is dedicated to providing hospice, housing and support to people affected by HIV/AIDS in a compassionate and caring environment.  Its hospice, Doug’s House, is the only facility in central Texas dedicated to in-house medical care for patients with AIDS and AIDS-related complications.  Project Transitions also provides affordable, transitional housing with supportive services for individuals and families affected by HIV through three housing programs: Roosevelt Gardens, Highland Terrace and Community Housing. These programs are partially supported by the proceeds from its thrift store, Top Drawer, which has been open since 1993.  Project Transitions’ goal is to help transition the homeless by providing support to gain the life-skills needed to live independently, and then move into long-term, affordable housing of their own.

they are one of the beneficiary agencies, you can help them by donating at
my Hill Country Ride page

Bob Hope

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

The Wright House Wellness CenterSince 1988, The Wright House Wellness Center has offered care and compassion to Central Texans affected by or at risk of HIV and other chronic illnesses. Wright House provides resources for support, education and empowerment.  Services include: HIV/Hepatitis C testing, education and prevention programming, HIV/Hepatitis C case management, HIV food bank and nutrition services, HIV mental health services, and complementary health therapies (acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga) for persons affected by HIV and/or Hepatitis C.

my favorite quote about helping:
Anne Frank

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

and yeah, I know you’ve seem this video, but I’m gonna make you cry again:

please donate at my Hill Country Ride page

Flora Edwards

In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.

Friends of David Powell Health CenterThrough the Friends of David Powell Health Center, money raised helps support the only public clinic in Austin specializing in medical care for persons with HIV and AIDS. The Clinic provides primary care, medical case management, immunizations, nutritional counseling and health education services to uninsured and underinsured patients in all stages of HIV infection.

Dr. Loretta Scott

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

here’s a video with people talking about why they do this ride:

And the video from my boys — which also has apt lyrics: “write a world where the can belong to each other, and sing it like no other”