By Emily Foxxx, Lifestyles Editor
A beautiful human menagerie descended upon the Blackthorn Pizza and Pub on Saturday. The pub provided their downtown Joplin, Missouri home as a gift for the evening to the Aids Project of the Ozarks.
Music, great food and drinks, silent auction items, including autographed items provided by celebrities and professional athletes all the way to a fake personalized Colorado vehicle license plate bearing “GET HAZED” as the official “number,” all played major roles in this event.
An event that’s mission was to help some people move through their triumphs and struggles a little more peacefully.
As it has been with the APO since day one.
In 1983, a couple thousand miles away from the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic, a group of concerned citizens began meeting in a local church in Springfield, Missouri. At the heart of these gatherings, they discussed ways to assist affected people who were returning home to Springfield.
Indeed, all across the U.S., people with AIDS were returning to their home towns to die as peaceably as possible. The stigma surrounding the disease, accompanied by rampant paranoia, caused the people suffering from the virus to become outcasts. Ignorance as to how one might acquire the illness bordered on hysteria.
Meanwhile, the AIDS Project of Springfield was addressing the matter head on. By giving emotional, as well as practical support to the increasing numbers of those affected, the AIDS Project soon found the task almost overwhelming. Seeing how wide-spread the need was becoming in the area, the group eventually changed their name to AIDS Project of the Ozarks (APO), and incorporated in 1985. Since that time, APO has been providing HIV care and prevention services to 29 counties in Southwest Missouri.
Today, APO serves approximately 600 HIV positive clients per year, provides HIV testing to over 700 individuals, and provides prevention materials to 10,000 people yearly. APO provides a variety of services, including but not limited to, HIV Counseling and Testing, Case Management and Medical Care/Clinic Services.
Since those early days of AIDS, science has come along ways in treating individuals living with the virus. Advancements in treatments are allowing people to live full and productive lives. However, due to the nature of the illness and the expense associated with treatment, many of these people suffer from lack of the bare necessities of life. Items that many of us take for granted, like shampoo, bath soap and toilet paper, are things that often times do not fit into the AIDS patient’s budget.
APO has stepped up to offer assistance in that area as well with their Client Pantry. It is APO’s goal to have these pantries stocked with personal care items, as well as house cleaning items. Many APO clients receive food stamps, but the above mentioned items are obviously not available with an EBT card. In order to keep the pantry stocked, APO is dependent upon donations. This keeps the supplies very limited and the availability varies.
The Joplin pantry has been bare for awhile.
FUN AND LOVING AT THE BLACKTHORN
The benefit tonight helped turn this around for the Joplin pantry. Over 1,000 dollars in cash was raised, while hundreds of dollars worth of hygiene and household cleaning items were donated at the door to make life a little easier for others. And the music provided the perfect soundtrack on the journey
Opening up the live music portion of the event was a nice performance by John Thomas and his 13 year old daughter Lexi. Classic rock selections mixed with other popular tunes gave the evening a comfortable start.
Following the father-daughter duo was “Zero 2 Panic”. They immediately had a grip on the audience as their badass horn section blew our minds.
Again, the music was setting the pace of the evening.
“Into The Storm”, a three piece band from New Zealand took time out from their U.S. tour to play a great acoustic set for a very receptive audience.
“Molotov Latte”, “Jokers 2 Jesters”, “Sounds of Quincy” and Alex Scimeca from Conway Jackson all gave their talent as a gift to the people served by APO.
The benefit was the third one this year to be presented by “Musicians for Miracles” which has been presenting benefits since 2010. Last year “Musicians for Miracles”, a 501 (c) (3) charity raised right at $50,000.00 to benefit area people in need. The organization stages benefits to assist individuals with a variety of health issues and other related expenses. Unlike many charitable organizations, 100% of all money raised goes directly to the person or organization needing help.
Great music, excellent food, one of a kind auction items; including an autographed pair of Billy Ray Cyrus’ boxers and a building full of people congregated together to bless others made it an evening well spent by everyone who walked through the doors.