Friday, September 2, 2011

J Edward Shaw Part II

Last week I introduced you to Ed Shaw. This week I am describing his activism and volunteer work. At the moment Ed serves as the second chairperson of The New York Association on HIV over Fifty (NYAHOF). Before the organization was established, it went under a different name, the “Aging Task Force on AIDS”. This name was later changed,. Why? Because during the 1980s no one thought people would live beyond the age of fifty. At first the “Aging Task Force on AIDS” was a Think Tank, where people would meet and talk about HIV/AIDS and the aging process. NYAHOF was formed in 1991; today it's members address issues related to HIV/AIDS and older adults. It's members want to ensure that the concerns of persons over the age of fifty and their support networks are addressed,. They want to generate educational, programmatic, and policy initiatives in the field of aging.

I asked Ed how all this could is done. He gave me a few examples of the projects he is working on just now. Ed has spoken at senior centers, churches, hospitals, and high schools. He described one particular project, where he talk to high school students who during the summer months work within areas of health care. Before they graduate , Ed comes to talk to about HIV and AIDS and its impact on the communities. He told me the students really appreciated this moment and the response was infatuating. This is a great example of an inter-generational program.

NYAHOF does more than educate. They assist HIV positive older adults and seniors to find basic things like housing. Housing is very important, not only for the individual, but for the whole community. If you don’t have the basic things it is hard to stay healthy and take your medicine. Ed has assisted lots of people in all five boroughs to deal with legal advice and for them to become more aware of the things they need to do in order to live healthy with HIV.

I wanted to know what Ed’s plans are for NYAHOF’s future. At the moment he is in the process of putting together a mailing list of local legislatures. Ed says it is important to know who is representing you. He encourages everyone to find out for themselves. He thinks all of us should let elected officials know that now is not the time to cut back on health budgets; we need to show them how very important programs are. If we ever want to beat-back rates of HIV and AIDS we must continue to acknowledge the importance of this cause. While Ed is supposed to be retired, he intend to keep on educating and encouraging safe sex practices across all generation, for as long as he can.

Besides NYAHOF, Ed is also involved in a number of other HIV/AIDS awareness projects. He is also on the Board of Directors of New York City Legal Action Center and has served as Community Co-Chair of the New York State HIV Prevention Planning Group and the NEW York City HIV Planning Council. He was also appointed to the first New York City Commission on HIV/AIDS.

Last, Ed and I spoke about the importance of volunteer work. He ended the interview with a quote that I really like by Martin Niemöller, the well-known German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran Pastor:

First they came for the communists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me”.

Sanna Klemetti:

If you wanna write Ed, you can do that on this address:

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