2015-08-13 / Around Town

Memorial Quilt Shows Compassion


Melinda Reis, of Middletown, reads the personal background corresponding to a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at the Newport Library. Melinda Reis, of Middletown, reads the personal background corresponding to a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at the Newport Library. An eight-panel AIDS Memorial Quilt is currently being shown at the Newport Public Library in the lower lobby. The display, provided by AIDS Quilt RI, will be in residence for the month of August. The panels, all with Newport connections, were made through the organization's HIV/AIDS prevention education program, Anna's Workshop.

Each panel is connected to Newport in at least one of three ways. Most are in memory of people from the Newport area, some were requested by Newport residents, and all were made by groups on Aquidneck Island.

Four of the panels were created by members of Salve Regina University's Social Work Club and The Alliance. The club has had a relationship with the Quilt for more than 20 years, displaying the Quilt on campus and making panels every year. The Alliance has joined in the panel-making effort for the last five years.

Four of the memory panels for Carolyn Carreiro, Evan Davies, Dennis F., and Lola M. were created by members of Salve Regina University's Social Work Club and The Alliance.

St. George's School volunteers created the panel for Joseph Brown and helped complete the panel for Dennis F.

A panel in memory of Albert Frechette was made by the youth group at Channing Memorial Church.

The panel for Alan Kuperinsky was made by the youth group at Temple Shalom, and Gary Poser's panel was created by Interweave, the LGBTQ group at Channing Memorial Church.

The Anna's Workshop program is named for the late Ann Antoni, of Portsmouth, who was a tireless advocate for people living with AIDS, a devoted volunteer for the Quilt, and one of the founders of the educational program. Since 2000, the program has been teaching young people from elementary school through college about HIV/AIDS, in school, community and religious settings. Groups of young people are matched with families, friends, lovers and caregivers who have suffered losses to AIDS. The young people create panels in memory of the deceased, using information provided by those making the request, thus "putting a face on AIDS" for the young people and providing comfort to those who have experienced a devastating loss.

AIDS Quilt RI was chartered as The NAMES Project-RI Chapter in 1992 and has been based in Newport since 1994. It has been an independent organization since 2002. It is dedicated to the mission of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is "to preserve, care for, and use the AIDS Memorial Quilt to promote healing, heighten awareness and inspire action in the struggle against AIDS." Although the group is no longer affiliated with The NAMES Project Foundation, it still sends its completed panels to the national organization for inclusion in the Quilt archives.

Information on AIDS Quilt RI and Anna's Workshop may be found on the organization's website, aidsquiltri.org.

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