My name is Shawnet Sweets. I work for the Los Angeles Opera. I am a huge opera fan. I’ve been listening to opera since I was six years old. On my days off from work, I travel all over the country to see opera and fly back home just in time to make it to work that next day. I am also a renaissance chalk artist. In case you are wondering what that is… artist use chalk to recreate or create their own giant paintings on the sidewalk or pavement. I like to do recreations of old renaissance masters. Although recreating a scene from the Sistine Chapel is difficult, ALC7 is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life so far.
I’m not sure what sent me to the ALC office way back in Sept. Just the day before I had found an old address book that I’ve had since the early 80’s. I noticed that of the 73 names in my book 63 of them were crossed out by old fading pen lines. The each name represented a friend I lost to AIDS. I just sat there looking at the names and picturing each face and the carefree life experiences we all shared before the AIDS virus surfaced. I remembered watching each of them die and not knowing what I could say to comfort them. Most of the time, I just sat there holding their hands or sitting by the bed silently with other close friends. We all felt so helpless at that time.
Maybe it was some kind of divine wind that pushed me up the steps to the ALC7 meeting. Maybe it was my guilt of not being able to help. Or maybe it was the spirits of my good friends who lead me to the ALC7 office that night. I’ll never truly know but I went to the meeting and signed up. It was the best decision I had ever made. I have been training and fundraising since September and now I have the power to make a difference. One day when I meet up with my friends who have gone before me, I can tell them that in honor of them and the millions of people living with AIDS/HIV, I became part of the education, care and the search for a cure.