July 20, 2011

July 20, 2011
Project KengiKat

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it through the middle of another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great one so far. It is another busy day for Dab the AIDS Bear and me as we get ready for our next trip.

Today, I would like to feature a blog by our Ambassador of Hope Kengi Carr from Los Angeles. Besides being an Ambassador of Hope, Kengi does many other great things in the community helping the homeless and people with HIV and AIDS. Here is his recent blog about being one of our Dab the AIDS Bear's Ambassadors of Hope:

In 2009 I received an email from someone name Dab Garner asking me if I would be interested in being an Ambassador of Hope for his Dabs the AIDS Bear. At the time I had limited knowledge of who Dab Garner was and far less about his Ambassador of Hope program through his Dab the AIDS Bear Project. That all changed in a matter of weeks and Dab quickly became one of my friends and strong supporter of my community work.

I was homeless when he asked me to take on such an honor, already dealing with huge gaps in my own HIV care and access to housing, as well as already running my two outreaches for homeless people and people with HIV or AIDS here in Los Angeles. I was concerned that I would not live up to or be able to perform like other Ambassadors, but Dab believed I could be a great Ambassador of Hope, so I said yes and later I received my very own Dabs the AIDS Bear.

Right away Dabs and I took to the town and have been seen at many private events and parties as well as HIV outreaches, city jazz festivals and even to the opera. Dabs traveled with me to Washington DC for AIDS Watch and has also been at two LA Gay Pride Parades here in Los Angeles. It has been a real pleasure and honor to be an Ambassador of Hope through the Dabs the AIDS Bear Project.

It wasnít long before I asked Dab if I could make a presentation to someone battling HIV here in Los Angeles and he said yes. Since then Iíve made several Dabs the AIDS Bear presentations to people here in Los Angeles who are either battling HIV or AIDS or on the front lines being of service to people with HIV or AIDS.

This past weekend I was once again able to make two of four Dabs the AIDS Bear presentations to people who are doing all they can to help people with HIV or AIDS live happy productive lives. One of the people just happens to be my long friend from childhood who supports my efforts to help people with HIV. It was such a pleasure to be able to present her with her own little Dabs.

The other presentation went to someone who does outstanding work for people with HIV or AIDS down on Skid Row. Her residents speak very highly of her and feel that she deeply cares and wants whatís best for them. Even though our time working together has been cut short, it was a pleasure to present her the bear and encourage her to keep doing whatís right for people battling HIV or AIDS.

I was also able to share the story of Dab Garner and Dabs the AIDS Bear with other people at the event for NAMI Urban LA at the home of the late Bebe Moore Campbell in honor of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. While attending the event I was able to speak with three city leaders and encourage them to fight the good fight for people battling HIV and AIDS right here in Los Angeles and to do all they could to protect fair housing rights of people battling HIV throughout LA County.

It was cool to be able to make the presentation at this event because mental health affects many people battling HIV or AIDS and most if not all mental health services for people with HIV or AIDS has been reduced or completely gutted because of budget cuts, leaving people with no place to turn for care and those places still offering such care having to do so with almost no budget.

While the check presented to NAMI Urban LA from Councilwoman Jan Perry was very nice, I saw this as nothing more than an election stop in her hopes to gain the office of Mayor for the City of Los Angeles. $50,000 was a great check, but doesnít even come close to to mental health services gutted under her watch. She also happens to represent a district hardest hit by HIV and AIDS as well as mental illness, which also happens to be ground zero for homelessness in this nation. Now she wants a chance to be Mayor? Please.

People at our table were more than happy to pose and take a picture with Dabs and this gave me the opportunity to share the story of Dab Garner and his Dabs the AIDS Bear Project which in turn would lend support, care and understanding to people battling HIV, AIDS and mental illness.

Later this month I will make two more Dabs the AIDS Bear presentations to people with HIV or AIDS here in Los Angeles and once again I will be honored to do so.

You can learn more about Kengi's work on his website at: http://www.dosomethingsaturday.org/

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab