Pictured Valerie Lewis and Darrell Gordon. Photos by Andrew Davis
On Dec. 10 at Akainyah Gallery, 357 W. Erie, the Pathfinders Prevention Education Fund ( PPEF ) held a program to honor HIV/AIDS advocates and unsung heroes. Brenetta Howell Barrett, president and CEO of the PPEF, hosted the program, which included award presentations, remarks from local dignitaries, and a silent auction.
Although the causes that the honorees champion are similar, the award recipients were varied, reflecting how HIV/AIDS-related concerns have spread across several demographics. Individuals and institutions who were honored included radio producer Keisha Chavers; West Side newspaper The Austin Voice; activist Darrell Gordon; Third Unitarian Church; advocate Valerie Lewis; and Reverend Juan Y. Reed, vicar of St. Martin's Episcopal Church.
Gordon told Windy City Times that he was surprised when he found out that he was receiving an award, but quickly added that 'the work is not over. We need direct activism, especially in communities of color.' He also said that there is a need to confront 'the denial over the issue of sexuality.' When asked what action he thought needed to be done immediately, Gordon responded that 'mobilization against the faith-based initiatives pushed by the Bush administration' was the most crucial.
PPEF was founded in 1998 as a non-profit, community-based group to provide HIV/AIDS prevention education and training principally for African Americans on Chicago's West Side and the western suburbs. The fund targets LGBTQ youths and young adults. The organization is located at 3333 W. Arlthington and its phone number is ( 773 ) 533-5755.