Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The SOMWA Foundation Hosts Annual Holiday Party for Families Affected by HIV/AIDS

On Monday, December 19, Shacazia Brown, Founder of the SOMWA (Survivors of Mothers with AIDS) Foundation hosted GMHC's Women’s Care, Prevention and Support Services (WCPSS) family holiday party for a third year.  Shacazia founded SOMWA (pronounced "someway") a few years ago in honor of her mother who died of AIDS 15 years ago. She approached GMHC in 2009 about wanting to host the holiday party for families affected by HIV/AIDS.  Her arrival at GMHC came at miraculously pivotal time when funding for some of the women's programming had been cut.  At the first party, Shacazia was able secure a venue, food, thousands of dollars worth of toys and electronics, guest DJs and much more.  She even got a weekend trip sponsored for an HIV-positive mother and her daughter to Florida. The experience was truly mesmorizing.

Three years later, Shacazia's inspiring work remains consistent.  At this holiday party, there were over 110 children and 80 parents.   There were over 60-70 volunteers who helped during the party and distributed gifts. Below are some of the highlights:
  • A couple came to the agency a couple of weeks ago for the first time. One of their needs was a new wheel chair for their six-year-old son.  This was provided for the little boy along with a Wii game.
  • One young girl’s birthday was also on the same day as the party.  A new bike and other toys were provided for her.
  • Hundreds of toys and electronics, worth tens of thousands of dollars, were provided for the children of all ages.  Teenagers were given gift cards valued at $25 to 50 dollars and MP3 players.
  • Cash and toys were given out during the dance contests.
  • Project Sunshine donated an electronic keyboard with stand which was raffled off to teenagers.  Also raffled were DVD players, a CD / AM and FM music system,  IPod clock radios, and 3-in-1 headphones.
  • Delicious dinner, dessert and snacks were donated by “Taste of Seafood” restaurant.
  • Shereé Whitfield, of Bravo TV’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” visited with the families.
  • Yandy, cast member of VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” also visited.       SpongeBob SquarePants even stopped by. 
  • DJ Lady Wells and DJ Pauze provided great dance music.
  • A quilt was made by the mothers in WCPSS that was given to Shacazia along with a beautiful poem about her being an angel in our lives.
AND….On Mother’s Day in May 2012, 70-80 mothers will again be treated to a day cruise on the Circle Line.

Our collective thanks to Shacazia (NY1’s recent “New Yorker of the Week”), her volunteers, the donors of the toys, electronics and food, the celebrities and DJs, WCPSS staff, Senior Managers and Directors, our Facilities Department and the cleaning crew, and everyone who helped and was supportive.  This party was truly a miracle on West 33rd Street.

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