World AIDS Day was observed in Ventura on Wednesday with a display of 20 hand-sewn quilts and a candlelight vigil.
The nonprofit Quilt Project Gold Coast displayed the colorful banners at Ventura City Hall. People who have lost loved ones to the disease also wrote their names on a signature panel that would later be embroidered on a quilt.
“We started the quilt project a number of years ago to raise awareness,” said Mark Lager, vice president of Quilt Project Gold Coast based in Santa Barbara. “It gives us an opportunity to keep it in the forefront of people’s minds that the AIDS crisis is still going on.”
Lager, who lives in downtown Ventura, said attendees included activists, people who wanted to remember those who died of AIDS and those living with HIV.
“It definitely draws the community together,” Lager said.
The Rev. Melissa Langdell, Rev. Dana Worsnop and Bishop Manny Edgar-Beltran, who also serves on Quilt Project’s board of directors, held a candlelight vigil in the evening to honor those lost to the disease.
Neil Coffman-Grey, a treasurer on the Quilt Project Gold Coast’s board of directors, said there were 75 attendees on Wednesday.
Coffman-Grey, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 2003 and is married to board president Keith Coffman-Grey, said the event was a “bittersweet” one.
“We’re honoring them and they should be there and it breaks my heart,” Neil Coffman-Grey said.
Organizers displayed proclamations issued by the city of Ventura and Ventura County declaring Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day.
For more information, visit quiltprojectgoldcoast.org
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