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Positive Influence (PI)
By: Kim S


There was a line waiting out the door of the Cultural Arts Center, this past Saturday night.  If you are like me, you were probably wondering why?  So, I went up to a nice looking guy, who was dressed in complete 1970's style clothing.  I was surprised to find out that there was a benefit show going on for the local non profit, Positive Influence (PI).  PI is has a goal that no one living with HIV/AIDS in our area has to go alone. 

According to their web site, http://www.positiveinfluence.org, they serve Central and Western Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.  They have a mission statement that says "It is the mission of Positive Influence, Inc to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS in Western Maryland.  To promote de stigmatization of HIV and AIDS and to promote HIV prevention. Services are provided without discrimination and, whenever possible, in collaboration with other service agencies." They also sponsor weekly support group meetings and occasional social gatherings giving those living with HIV/AIDS a chance to meet, share, and make new friends.  I was completely surprised when I was told that they sponsored a free HIV test this past summer up at Deer Park Lodge. 

This benefit was to raise money for PI, but as soon as I got in the door, I knew that there was so much more.  There was a picture of this young man all over the place, and there were people who had a shirt on that said "This one is for Joe".  So, I asked a girl named April who Joe was.  She told me that Joe was a guy who helped found PI, and he died this year from his battle with AIDS.  This show was dedicated to him.  I found a seat at a table in the middle. 

They had food that was delicious.  The bar was cheap, and I even won the item I wanted from the silent auction that was going on.  The music started and the show began.  Nicole James was the hostess and she did a wonderful job explaining what the show was for and it went without a hitch.  They had live singers, dancers, and drag queens.  They even auctioned off homemade cakes.  I was amazed at how much money people donated.  I don't know how much money PI brought in that night, but I can tell you that I as I sat at my table, trying to take in as much as I could, it took everything I could to not get emotional and then Nicole James did a number that brought everyone to tears.  She did the Reba song, "What do you say".  During her number all the performers came out holding candles.  It was so moving.  I looked to the front of the room, and saw Joe's mother.  She is an older woman, that was holding herself together better then I was.  You could tell she is a strong woman. 

I may not have been planning on going to what I thought was going to be a "drag show", but I am so happy that I went inside.  It definitely was so worth my time and my money.  It wasn't a "typical 'drag show", it was a variety show.  It was amazing, and moving, and so much more.  The last number had Sara Holsinger, singing "Anyways" by Martina McBride.  The whole room was so quiet except for the sobbing you could hear.  That song, we were told, was Joe's favorite song before he had passed.  In the background there was a slide show of pictures of Joe, from when he was a baby all the way through his life, playing. 

I have never been one, to appreciate all the little things, but now, I am taking an extra moment or two to appreciate the little things.  I hope all of you reading this, take a moment to look at your lives, and take a moment to enjoy life, as you never know when the day will come, when you don't have a tomorrow.

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Positive Influence (PI)
By: Kim S
   
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