Speeking At The HCA Rally
Sorry but I'm writing this posting being very tired from a long day. Tuesday morning I spoke at the Human Coalition Association (HCA) rally against the county budget cuts on behalf of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project. I was shaking so bad that I had to put my speech down on the amplifier. Shaking in my shoes, I still manage to pull off the speech with hardly any screw ups. I'm so proud of myself and can't wait to see it on our local community television station.
Most of you know I want to public speak what it's like find out and living with HIV/AIDS. The executive director of SCAP came up to me and told me how proud she was of my speech. She also informed me that I would do more public speaking on SCAP's behalf and no one ever spoke that passionately for Scap. So here are two pictures from the rally and the speech I gave that day. I hope you enjoy them.
Now here's the speech I gave that hit a home run.
Hello Santa Cruz HCA supporters, Santa Cruz tax payers, and the Board of Supervisors. My name is Mikey and I’m a client of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project speaking against the proposed budget cuts. My story is one of many in this county of someone living with HIV/AIDS.
I would like to share a little of my story and how the Santa Cruz AIDS Project has helped save my life and helped me have a better quality of life.
Back in the summer of 2004 my weight was quickly dropping and I developed an opportunistic infection known as thrush. I wanted to see a doctor but being as sick as I was, I was unable to work, had no income, and the county’s co-pay was too expensive so I was unable to get medical attention.
At the end of the summer of 2004 when I was only 110 pounds and had thrush so bad it was growing on the outside of my mouth, my roommate suggested that I get tested for HIV. On September 30, 2004 I went the Santa Cruz AIDS Project and tested HIV positive.
Devastated and not knowing where to turn, I went to SCAP for help. SCAP was able to help me get the benefits and medical attention I so dearly needed at the time. On October 20, 2004 Not only did I find out I was HIV positive, but that I had full-blown AIDS-- today I am still someone living with AIDS.
As I said, at this time period I was extremely sick and couldn’t work. My roommate and I were served an eviction notice. I would have been homeless at that time if it wasn’t for SCAP. SCAP was able to help me stay at a hotel for a week, and then they placed me in a HIV/AIDS support house.
During my first year of trying to get healthy, SCAP provided me food from their food box program. They helped pay for medications not covered under the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program. They also helped me cover a portion of my rent. After my state benefits ran out and no one would employ me, SCAP placed me in a transitional house where I still need to live today.
Over the past 3 ½ years I have seen many programs cut from SCAP. Such as their Give-a Ride-program that helped clients get to and from their medical appointments. I have seen their Food Box program dwindle over the last several years from lack of funding and donations.
Now other programs are in jeopardy because of the upcoming budget cuts such as SCAP’s Education and Prevention program. 4,500 HIV prevention contacts shouldn’t be sacrificed because of these budget cuts. Will SCAP be able to help these clients like they were able to help me?
I believe that everyone who is in my predicament should be able to have the same services given to them that I was offered by the Santa Cruz AIDS Project. So I say to the Board of Supervisors: you may think that this budget cut is best for everyone but it’s not. You may think you are just dealing with money but you’re not-- You are dealing with peoples’ lives and their quality of life.
footnote: The speech was tweeked a little bit from someone at SCAP for time