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Greg Louganis receives the Spirit of Hope Award

Spirit of Hope Awards 2014
Spirit of Hope Awards 2014Louis "Kengi" Carr

Sunday, April 27, 2014 hundreds gathered at Cafe La Boheme for the 21st Annual Spirit of Hope Awards hosted by Being Alive Los Angeles honoring people in the field of HIV.

Spirit of Hope Awards 2014
Spirit of Hope Awards 2014Louis "Kengi" Carr Photography

It's been over 30 years since the first cases of HIV were originally reported and for nearly as long Being Alive Los Angeles has been on the front lines offering peer driven services to their members. "We are committed to bringing our peers out of isolation" by offering one on one support, support groups, HIV education, wellness center as well as social and recreational opportunities.

Daniel Robinson, Program Manager says "Being Alive is a safe place and what sets us apart from other agencies is the fact that our members are just as important to us as our four full time employees. When you call someone will answer the phone and when you come in you will receive assistance that day."

"Knowing that someone is there for me when I need them is comforting" says Ross Meredith and Ben says "without the mental health and acupuncture I don't know how I'd manage. Being Alive is my family"

This year awards were given to Olympic Gold Medalist and Global HIV/AIDS Ambassador, Greg Louganis who delivered a moving speech about his journey with HIV and the impact he's been making. Business owner, activist, and community leader Shawn Farnsworth who shared his personal story about HIV and community.

Final award was given to Kevin Kurth, the retiring executive director. He walked to the podium to a thunderous round of applause from adoring friends, board members and members of Being Alive. Kevin fought back tears as he spoke of the many years he has been at the helm of Being Alive, recalling the days when members just wanted a place to feel safe, to what it is today. He assured members that what he's worked so hard to build for the members would not change under new leadership

Kevin started his career with Being Alive in 1997 as a clinical supervisor, then peer support program, program manager, education manager and finally executive director. Under his leadership Being Alive Los Angeles has grown by leaps and bounds and has currently outgrown it location on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that we will miss his kindness and smiling face and how welcome he has made us all feel. How he worked so hard to make sure that all of our needs and concerns were heard and met with compassion and friendship. His style of leadership is one of inclusion which is why I believe people want to come volunteer for Being Alive. His spirit is one of love and friendship which is why people feel safe at Being Alive and is something that should always be front and center.

Living with HIV can be very difficult for some and places like Being Alive are far and few in between.