An Evening to Remember

In 1986, I was diagnosed HIV positive. It basically went like this: “Your HIV test came back positive, Mr. Vigo. Next please.” Needless to say, I felt as if I had just been given a death sentence considering that in my community there was little or no support for persons diagnosed with HIV.

I became heavily addicted to drugs, and with that came homelessness.

I was an addict living on the streets of New York with little hope that things would get better.

While living in a shelter, I was told that there was a facility called the Glass Factory available for those living with AIDS. My first thought was that it would be just another vermin-infested flophouse like I usually encountered when being housed by HASA.

Well, I’ve been here since October 12, 1999. My willingness to change along with the support of the staff of the Glass Factory has brought positive changes into my life. I am celebrating a year clean and sober in April, 2003, and for me that is an accomplishment.

Several months ago I was approached by a case manager at the Glass Factory, and informed that I was being nominated for Tenant of the Year by the staff at my facility. This award is given to tenants of supportive housing that have made positive changes in their lives, and have inspired others in their community to do the same.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call congratulating me on the nomination and inviting me to attend the benefit dinner hosted by the Supportive Housing Network at the Prince George Hotel.

I have to admit that initially I saw no point in attending the benefit considering that I did not win. But then I decided that just being nominated was an honor in itself. If I did not attend, it would have been unfair not only to myself, but to those who believed in me so much that they felt a nomination was in order. I decided to go, and it was a decision I did not regret.

Just being surrounded by so many people that are striving every day to provide affordable housing in order to end homelessness was somewhat overwhelming. The speeches given by the winners of the Tenant of the Year Award were inspirational and I was proud and honored to be part of this event.