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Positive, Proud and Living Out Loud

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Thursday Nov 17, 2016

Celebration of Life Thanksgiving Tradtion Continues

Tuesday, November 22, the Victory Programs' Boston Living Center partners with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to continue a long tradition of inviting members of the HIV/AIDS community in Massachusetts to come together for a traditional Thanksgiving meal and an evening of hope, health and celebrations at the Hynes Convention Center, for the annual Celebration of Life Thanksgiving Dinner.

The Celebration of Life Dinner was born in 1988 when Peter Daniel Clark, one of the Boston Living Center's founding members, decided to bring people living with HIV/AIDS together with their families and friends around the holidays to celebrate another year of life. Clark died from AIDS-related complications in 1992, but his work lives on at the Boston Living Center and the annual Celebration of Life Thanksgiving Dinner. In 1995, the Celebration of Life moved to the Hynes Convention Center where it has been held since. The event brings together nearly 700 guests, community members living with HIV/AIDS and the friends and family who support them. Although the event is free for guests, the generous support of individual and corporate donors makes the Celebration of Life the largest fundraiser of the year for Victory Programs' Boston Living Center. Every year the theme for the event changes to reflect the current challenges and triumphs of the HIV/AIDS community. This year members of the Boston Living Center selected the theme "Positive, Proud and Living Out Loud" to represent the positive strides that have been made by the HIV/AIDS community around improved medical and health outcomes, better education and outreach services and reducing stigma.

This year instead of the traditional invocation by long time agency friend Reverend Judy Mannheim, Boston Living Center member and spoken word artist Mason will perform a piece speaking to the experience of living with HIV/AIDS.

Brenda Bellizeare was a staff member and member of the Boston Living Center and a powerful voice in the HIV/AIDS community, especially for women. She used her life experience to help shape services for others living with HIV and to provide powerful advocacy on behalf of her peers. In honor of Brenda we are introducing the Brenda Bellizeare "Better It Gets" Award to honor a Boston Living Center member who, like Brenda, has inspired others and whose journey is only going to get better. This year we are pleased to announce Jo Ann Coull as the first recipient of the "Better It Gets" Award. Jo Ann will be available to speak with members of the press about her personal journey as a member of the Boston Living Center, at the Celebration of Life.