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State funding moves forward for renovations at AIDS Remembrance Garden in Rochester

The AIDS Remembrance Garden at Highland Park is getting an infusion of $250,000 in state funds for renovation and restoration efforts.
Office of Assemblymember Harry Bronson
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The AIDS Remembrance Garden at Highland Park is getting an infusion of $250,000 in state funds for renovation and restoration efforts.

State and Monroe County officials gathered in Highland Park on Tuesday at the site of the AIDS Remembrance Garden.

Local Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-138) was there to talk about the $250,000 in state funding allocated to help renovate that garden, that broke ground in 1993 at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

He said the garden was designed to help mark the effect of that epidemic on so many lives.

“So we want that to continue, not only for those of us, like me, older folks who lost far too many people to AIDS and HIV, but for younger people so that they have a better awareness, and hopefully it will lead them to taking steps to end the epidemic, getting tested,” said Bronson.

Bronson said there is still work that needs to be completed at that site.

“We’re going to restore the AIDS Remembrance Garden to what it was 30 years ago when it was first installed. But it was never completed,” said Bronson. “There are specifications about additional benches and foliage and things of that nature. So this funding will be for restoration. But then to complete the project from 30 years ago.”

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Bronson is hopeful the renovations to the AIDS Remembrance Garden can be completed within the next couple of years

WXXI News reported last December about the effort to get funding for the garden renovations.

At that time, 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.”

The restoration of the AIDS Remembrance Garden also involves a partnership with Monroe County as well as volunteer help from The Victory Alliance and South East Area Coalition (SEAC).

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.