Central Florida Overheard: Quilt of memories

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The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a massive quilt started in the 1980s by LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones to bring awareness to how bad the AIDS pandemic really was. Each panel was personalized for someone who lost their battle with the disease. It is meant to honor the dead and bring healing to the person’s loved ones.

This year, the Orlando VA Medical Center is raising awareness for HIV/AIDS and letting the community know the fight is still not over by creating a local quilt to be displayed later this year. “We are going to unveil the quilt on Worlds AIDS Day,” says Freda Johnson, a social worker with the VA’s Infectious Disease Team. “Then it will be displayed at the various VA locations around Central Florida.”

Anyone is free to contribute a panel to the quilt; you do not need to be a veteran. You can obtain a cloth panel to take home by contacting the Quilt Project Information Line at 407-631-2267 or attend one of the group decorating sessions. The VA will be holding group decorating sessions on the fourth Thursday of each month this summer at the VA Medical Center in Lake Nona from 10-11 a.m.

Panels completed on your own can be dropped off at the VA Medical Center or by calling the information line to arrange pick-up. Panels must be returned by August 31 and the completed quilt will be unveiled at the VA’s World AIDS Day event Dec. 1. For more information call Freda Johnson at 407-631-2267.

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