AIDS Memorial Quilt Committee gives $3,000 to Berakhah House

AIDS Memorial Quilt Committee gives $3,000 to Berakhah House Every minute, five young people are infected with HIV, the precursor virus to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It is estimated that 33.6 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.

With these figures in mind, the Vermillion AIDS Memorial Quilt Display Committee last fall began work to increase understanding and awareness in South Dakota of both the disease and those whom it has afflicted.

The efforts of the committee resulted in a $3,000 check presented in Sioux Falls on Aug. 15, to Sister Esther of the Berakhah House. Committee members Sarah Fidler, Carmen Johnson, Matthew Mims, Camilla Slagle and Wendy Stubbs made the presentation. The check represented the balance of donations above and beyond the cost of bringing the quilt to Vermillion.

The Berakhah House is a home for those living with AIDS. The house can accommodate up to eight people and currently houses six full-time residents.

The idea for a residential center for those living with HIV/AIDS began to grow in the early 1980s. The Catholic Diocese, the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, and the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton worked together to raise the funds necessary to build the home. Lewis and Dorothy Hurwitz of Sioux Falls donated the property upon which the home is situated.

The Berakhah House opened its doors on March 1, 1995. Two full time attendants, Sister Esther, a registered nurse and Benedictine nun, and Sister Mary Anthony Menting, the director, staff the home. The house is wholly supported by donations.

"Berakhah House stands for 'blessing house,'" said Menting. "It is truly a blessing to have such a gift. We are very grateful for the help of the Vermillion AIDS Memorial Quilt Display Committee."

Vermillion area students, staff and community members wanted to create further awareness and education about the AIDS virus to South Dakota residents and formed the Vermillion AIDS Memorial Quilt Display Committee. The committee's initial objective was to bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt Display to Vermillion. This effort was successful and the quilt was displayed at USD's Slagle Auditorium March 25-27.

"The work that was done by this committee was amazing," said Fidler. "Every person involved in bringing the display to Vermillion was a volunteer, and without the work of each of those volunteers, this never could have been so successful. The warmth, compassion and generosity of the people of South Dakota and those working on this project were overwhelming."

Those interested in making a tax-exempt donation to the Berakhah House may mail one to: Berakhah House, 400 North Western Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104.

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