The Living AIDS Memorial Garden, Inc. was organized in April 1998. The organization is a membership organization. The IRS has determined that we are a nonprofit charitable organization according to § 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The mission of our organization is to establish and maintain a garden in memory of those who have died of AIDS, to provide a place of reflection for those who are living with AIDS and for those who are survivors.
The Garden is located in Charleston’s East End at the corner of Washington Street East and Sidney Avenue, a block or so from the Capitol. The Garden is a unique volunteer project that has been a cooperative effort among our organization, the State, the City of Charleston, and the East End community. The City leases the land from the State and helps our organization maintain the property by providing liability insurance and other services.
The Verizon Foundation, Central Distributing, Covenant House and Mountaineer Expedite have sponsored the Dance in the past. Additional supporters of the Garden include the Bernice Pickens Parsons Foundation, Nature’s Window, Food Among the Flowers, Forren Soil, Chapman Technical Group, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, and the Pyles & Turner Foundation, Inc.
We have established the maintenance fund with the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. We anticipate that the fund will require at least $100,000.00 to generate sufficient interest to properly maintain the Garden.
The West Virginia Legislature has been instrumental in the construction of the Garden. Grants were allocated to help install the Walkway and the irrigation system. Special requests on behalf of the Garden were made by Senator Brooks McCabe, Senator Dan Foster, Senator Vic Sprouse, Senator Larry Rowe, Senator Corey Palumbo, Judge Carrie Webster, Delegate Bonnie Brown, Delegate Sharon Spencer, and Delegate Bobbie Hatfield.
In 2008, the Legislature gave the Garden a grant to improve the property directly in the back of the Garden into a green parking space for the Garden. The City donated the labor and the space was built in October.
The Garden has achieved the regional recognition that we intended when we began this project. In the summer edition of People Places and Plants, a regional gardening magazine that serves the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic states the Garden was chosen as the public garden to represent West Virginia. The article, Public Gardens of the Mid-Atlantic, featured public gardens in the Mid-Atlantic States.
We have now completed the major elements of the Garden and have begun our capital campaign to raise money for the maintenance fund to ensure that the Garden is professionally maintained now and in the future.
Based on the support we have received we feel that the Garden is a worthwhile project which has broad social appeal. AIDS is not just an illness. It is a powerful force that has torn the fabric of our society–and forever changed it. There are few people who have not been affected in one way or another.
The Garden is not only an important community beautification project for the East End of Charleston, it is also a unique and very visible AIDS awareness project.