Hidden Voices: Reflections from an Affected Community
Piedmont Care partnered with the Hub City Writers Project to publish Hidden Voices. The purpose of the project is to amplify the voices of hope and support that sometimes go unnoticed in the Spartanburg community. Thanks to a grant from the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, Kris Neely was hired as the Writer-in-Residence and Editor of the project. Kris, a poet, essayist and former English teacher, worked one-on-one with participants to develop their creative work.
Hidden Voices is funded in part by The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, its donors, the County and City of Spartanburg and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.
Piedmont Care Executive Director Tracey Jackson coordinated the publication of the book and authored the book's Preface.
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Preface to Hidden Voices by Tracey Jackson
Hidden Voices is a collection of creative writing and graphic art recognizing a decade of service by Piedmont Care. The book is a collaboration between Piedmont Care, the Hub City Writers Project, and the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg. There are many people to thank: Tom Barnet for leadership; Betsy Teter with the Hub City Writers Project for creativity; and the Arts Partnership for vision. Financial contributions were made by the Arts Partnership, the Episcopal Church Women at the Church of the Advent, Tom and Joan Barnet, board members, and community partners. Their gifts make it possible for you to hear these voices for free because the message is universal.
Since 1994 Piedmont Care has served people living with HIV/AIDS and their families in our community. The mission of Piedmont Care has often been carried out in silence and obscurity. The mission of Piedmont Care has often been carried out in silence and obscurity. The stigma, fear, and discrimination that surround HIV/AIDS have left people living with HIV/AIDS stranded and the community uneducated. At Piedmont Care we believe clients deserve quality, compassionate, and affordable services delivered in a nonjudgmental and nondiscriminatory manner. We believe in education and empowerment so people can make informed decisions about their lives and their care. Today Piedmont Care continues to provide an array of services geared toward care, prevention, and education.
To recognize our ten years of service, the Piedmont Care board of directors wanted a unique project that reflected our values and mission while illuminating the impact of HIV/AIDS on us all. We have been blessed to have Kris Neely as our writer-in-residence for this project. He worked with clients at our office, via email, over the telephone, at their homes, and even held a creative writing workshop for us. In some cases it was Kris' gentle demeanor and kind heart that kept clients interested. He teaches, encourages, leads, and inspires.
We are 25 years into this epidemic. In the beginning having HIV was a death sentence. Today having HIV is a life sentence. Improved knowledge about this infectious disease has lead to improved care, so that now HIV/AIDS is a chronic condition. We no longer speak of dying of aids, we speak of living with HIV. For ten years, Piedmont Care has been helping to bring this life-saving and life-enhancing care to people living with HIV in our community.
I challenge you to do what we do daily at Piedmont Care: attack HIV/AIDS and the fear and ignorance surrounding it one person at a time on a personal level. Focus your resources. Focus on the needs - how can you respond? On behalf of the community of the affected, I thank you in advance for the role you will play in providing a future of hope for a world without AIDS.
Tracey Jackson has been the executive director of Piedmont Care, Inc. since March 1998 when she became the first person to hold that position. She was the recipient of the 2004 Outstanding Business Leader Award from the Spartanburg Jaycees and the 1999 Alma and T.R. Garrison Health Professional of the Year Award.