AIDS Quilt 20 years later, bringing their children home

It started out simply as a plea for help on social media. We’re bringing parts of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to town, and we’re looking for local panels. And after a few requests online, nothing.

So then, reaching out to my old friend, the newspaper in hopes that our requests would reach a different (slightly older) demographic. The day the story ran in the York Dispatch my phone was ringing before 10 a.m.

On the other end was Arlene Bubb. The 87-year-old wasn’t sure I could help her, but she really hoped I could. She saw this article in the paper and had to try. She knew her son, Brian was on a panel. But she didn’t remember which one – since she made it, boxed it up and sent it out in the mid-90s. Hasn’t seen it since. And as she’s reflecting on life and getting some of her things in order, Arlene goes on to tell me she’s just not sure if I’ll be able to find it. The quilt, you see … she said to me … was of the 35-year-old … and she remembers exactly what it was like.

“Was it a caricature of him with a tie,” I interjected. Arlene went silent as she searched for words. When she finally spoke, her voice cracked. I can’t tell you what she said since I only remember the sentiment, but the fact that someone would be able to search the quilt online and find her son … it was something she never thought would happen. Of course, she grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and asked for the number.

Turns out, Arlene was part of The Open Group – a group of mothers who came together to support their children living with HIV/AIDS. They formed initially as a support for the family members, said Mary Jane Sanders – who called a few days after Arlene asking about her son’s panel. But Mary Jane said they quickly started working on ways to turn that around, serving lunches and dinners for those suffering from the disease. And of course, those ladies got together, learned to sew and made panels.

So far, we’ve been able to identify FOUR panels with York County ties, and we’re just getting started.

And every single time I get a phone call like Arlene and Mary Jane’s, it catches me off guard. They profusely thank me for doing this – for bringing the quilt back to York. They haven’t seen the quilt in 20+ years. And none of them have seen their panels since they shipped them off – most of them in the mid-90s. As they offer thanks, over and over, I stop them.

Some 20 years later, we get to bring their loved ones home.

For me, doing just that for them – even if it’s just 4 of them – is worth it. But we also get to shine a light on a chronic disease that’s still present in our world, even though many have forgotten about it.

So stay tuned. Because we’re bringing the AIDS Quilt from June 23-25 ahead of National HIV Testing Day. And we have some great ideas in the works.

 

 

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Saving children’s teeth – a team effort

They say it takes a village to raise a child. So why not use a village to help educate parents and children to the importance of oral health?

We already know it’s a problem. Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic disease facing children in America. Nearly 1 in 4 children between the ages of 2-5 have had tooth decay. And two-thirds will have had a cavity by their teens.

And we know that there’s something you can do – by making a donation as small as $25, you’re getting toothbrushes into the hands of 10 kids. 

But what then? That’s the question that’s been plaguing experts and people invested in children’s dental care. And one that’s honestly been driving me a little bit nuts since I started seeing the work our Kids Against Cavities program does.

You’ve seen the numbers. You’ve been asked to help. But how do we break the cycle and bring about change? Continue reading

Let’s talk facts about children’s dental health

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LaJuan Mountain, our York dental director, was one of three dentists working on 93 children at VIDA Charter School in Gettysburg recently. Kids are screened for problems and notes are sent home with the goal of getting these kids into a dental home with routine, preventative care.

We’ve shown you our numbers – that out of 1,887 York County kids, our Kids Against Cavities staff found 2,351 cavities in 2015.

In our second Pre-K Counts visit of 2016, we screened 27 kids and found 87 cavities. In an hour and a half last week, we screened 93 kids at VIDA Charter School in Gettysburg.

We hope these numbers shock you. And then we ask you to help. With just the donation of $25, you can get 10 kids toothbrushes and toothpaste. 10 kids. Last week, I saw more than 10 kids who straight up told me they did not brush their teeth. Many said they didn’t have time. Maybe they just forget. One third grader told me her sister threw her toothbrush out and her parents hadn’t bought a new one.

They wouldn’t buy her a new toothbrush – something you could get at the dollar store. It’s something that just blows my mind because brushing my teeth twice a day is something my parents have always taught me. Many of the people I’ve talked to about our Kids Against Cavities program agree and are just as flabbergasted. And yet, grateful that it’s something we just grew up doing. We were taught it was important. Continue reading

Seeking AIDS Memorial Quilt panels with York-area ties

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A panel from the AIDS Memorial Quilt

In York County alone, 92 people died from HIV in 2014, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Statewide, the number stood at 4,320. While the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s is over, HIV is still ever present in our population – though the use of medication helps make it a manageable chronic disease.

This summer, Family First Health, WellSpan Health and York College will bring 12 panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt to central Pennsylvania as a reminder of the disease that’s still ever-present and a memorial to the more than 94,000 individuals lost to AIDS. The quilt will be displayed at Marketview Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia St., York, from June 23-25. It will be free to the public.

As plans are underway for events surrounding the three-day event – including National HIV Testing Day – Family First Health is seeking your input as we request which panels come to York. Have you seen the quilt before and been touched by a particular panel? Did you or someone you know work on a panel? Is there one in memory of a central Pennsylvania resident we’ve lost to HIV?

If you are aware of a panel with local ties – York, Hanover, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Harrisburg and more – please contact Kate Harmon, marketing and outreach coordinator with Family First Health. Contact her by phone, 717-801-4855 or email kharmon@familyfirsthealh.org. All requests should be made by May 1.

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WOW card winners for January

wowcardDid you know that at Family First Health we have “WOW” cards?

It’s a chance for staff to nominate other employees who they see doing something the exemplify our guiding principals.

What are our principals you may ask:

“Patient Centered” – “Respectful” – “Serves Everyone” – “Fiscally Responsible” – “ Continuous Improvement and Innovation” – “Integrity” – “Collaborative”

Not only does the employee, supervisor and CEO get to see who’s WOWing who in the office, but each month, a drawing done by HR will choose the winners of 3 $50 Giant gift cards.

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Kids Against Cavities takes oral health to Adams County

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Today, our Kids Against Cavities went somewhere it’s never been before – Adams County!

Our staff visited kids at VIDA Charter School to provide mandated school screenings. Also, the school decided to bring us kids who, according to their paperwork, did not have a dental home or hadn’t visited the dentist in more than 6 months.

Some even admitted that they’d NEVER been to a dentist. And we’re talking about kids up to 6th grade. We are working to change that.

The goal? To check on the status of their teeth AND encou20160204_084705rage follow-ups and routine care. Papers go home with the kids whose parents can indicate they already have a dentist or ask for help in getting their kid into a dental home – maybe the Family First Health Gettysburg office perhaps!? Continue reading