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Community partners help AIDS Camp with fundraising concert

Days before World AIDS Day, singer Leona Coakley-Spring completed another concert in her years-long mission to raise funds for the All Saints AIDS Camp.

“We raised about$8,000, but we’ve also been giving out of our pockets, which adds up to a few thousand dollars,”said Spring of joint efforts with her husband to raise funds for the camp.

The couple has held fundraising concerts through TerryLee Ministries, their Seattle, Washington-based non-profit organization, for the past 11 years.

The concert held on November 24 at St. Mark’s church in Fox Hill marked the first of their local fundraising efforts for the camp. The event garnered$600, all of which Spring said would go to the organization.

“We sold a lot of CDs, people gave donations and then people bought tickets,”she said.

“There was a lady who came and dropped off a bag of clothes for the kids at the shelter and donated$80. I thought that was such a wonderful thing.”

Founded by the late Glenroy Nottage over a decade ago, the camp located off Carmichael Road has provided shelter for people living with HIV and AIDS as well as their family members. In 2004 its residents were featured in Maria Govan’s documentary on HIV and AIDS,”Where I’m From.”

During his time as director, Nottage made frequent pleas to the community to help support the camp.

The Red Ribbon Ball committee donated funds towards the purchase of a generator for the camp six years ago.

Now home to 60 residents, including 18 children, the camp continues to struggle to keep its doors open.

“We need a lot of help,”said a resident, who pointed out efforts that residents have made on their own to repair a structure they want to use as a doctor’s office.

The resident said that organizations like the Adventure Learning Center and individuals like the Springs have been helpful.

“Mrs. Spring and her husband, they’re a great help when they do their concerts in the States,”the resident said, adding that proceeds from the last concert went towards fixing the roofs of two patient cottages.

Spring’s appeal to the public for assistance with the camp comes with a message of sensitivity and awareness about HIV/AIDS.

“A lot of our Bahamian, people they’re worrying about I got to buy this for me, Christmas is coming. It’s not about them, there are people worse off than they are, and if they share…the feeling is immeasurable,”she said.

“Like I say in my AIDS song I wrote AIDS doesn’t discriminate against race or relgion.”

Spring plans to continue fundraising efforts through her ministry in hopes of gaining more attention for the camp’s plight. Concerned about security and sanitation at the largely open camp, Spring hopes to see a new facility built someday.

“I want to just tear down all those little huts and try to get enough money to build some quarters, at least, before I die,”she said.

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