State to provide $250,000 to renovate and restore the AIDS Remembrance Garden in Highland Park
A $250,000 state grant is coming to Rochester to help renovate an AIDS Remembrance Garden at Highland Park.
The grant announced on Friday — also World AIDS Day — by state Assemblymember Harry Bronson.
The money will help with renovations at the garden, which was established in 1993.
Bronson, a Rochester-area Democratic lawmaker, said it’s important to complete work on the garden and spruce it up. He said it’s not only an important remembrance of those who died of HIV/AIDS, but also a way to teach younger people about the risk of HIV infection.
“As we observe World AIDS Day, we remember those loved ones, community members, friends and family whom we have lost to HIV/AIDS, and we also recognize that the fight against this disease is not over," Bronson said.
Kevin Indovino, the former chair of the garden, noted that when the garden was created 30 years ago, there was more of a stigma to a disease which is more manageable now with medication.
Indovino, who is a producer, director and editor at WXXI, said the garden was originally conceived by two people, Jane Howe and William Callahan, who had lost someone to AIDS.
“What they found, like so many people who had lost loved ones to AIDS, they didn't really have a place to go to come to terms with their grief,” Indovino said. “They couldn't often talk to family or friends, because of the stigma. They couldn't talk to coworkers. Oftentimes they couldn't find a place in their own church, because a lot of pastors wouldn't want to talk about it.”
Indovino said the AIDS Remembrance Garden is a place where people can reflect on loved ones they have lost, but he said it’s also important for that space to be there for future generations, to remind them how the community came together to fight HIV/AIDS.
“I think the significance of getting this funding and restoring this garden and maybe completing it to its original design, is the historical importance that it's here for future generations, to remind us how this community came together to combat this disease,” Indovino said.
Bronson said that through a partnership with the Monroe County Parks Department, and volunteer help from the Victory Alliance and South East Area Coalition, “this garden will continue to preserve the memories of those cherished lives.”