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Giving Honors

Giving Honors

For nearly two decades New York City's Housing Works has devoted itself to lifting up the lives of homeless HIVers. Now, the organization's helping hands come baring a fistful of cash for one of their most outspoken clients as well as other fellow activists. On April 17 the service organization will hold the Keith D. Cylar AIDS Activist Awards in Manhattan. The gala evening is a benefit to support HIV activism and advocacy in the name of the organization's late cofounder, Keith Cylar, and will also recognize the valiant efforts of a few of those following in his outspoken footsteps. Diane Williams, a client-turned-employee of the organization, is to receive $5,000 for her advocacy. She has numerous civil disobedience arrests under her belt, including a nab for her involvement in the peaceful takeover of the Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters in 2004. 'It's a wonderful feeling,' Williams says of the recognition. 'I feel so grateful and honored.' Two other awardees will each receive $10,000 to support their activism. Esther Boucicault was the first HIVer in Haiti to publicly disclose her serostatus on television. Despite the public scorn that followed, she went on to create her own foundation to provide medical and psychological aid to her fellow Haitians with HIV. Gloria Gonzales is an outspoken critic of Puerto Rico's resistance to needle-exchange programs and works to organize the injection-drug users in the territory. Meanwhile, a noncash award will go to longtime AIDS activists Asia Russell and Paul Davis, directors of the Health Global Access Project, both of whom got their start in ACT UP during the 1990s. 'Keith would have been right at home hanging out with this year's Cylar Award winners,' says Housing Works executive director Charles King. 'He was already very proud of Diane before he died, and I know he would love Esther, Gloria, Asia, and Paul too. They are all fighters and pioneers, which is what he was.'

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