By Lionel H.
“I was living in Dallas when I was diagnosed with HIV in 1989. When I was later diagnosed with histoplasmosis (a type of lung infection) in 2000, the weight of both diseases weighed heavily on me. I couldn’t get the care I needed and so eventually I went home to New Orleans. It was only after Hurricane Katrina that I returned to Dallas.
When I came back to DFW not only was I sick, I was homeless and I had lost everything. I was living in a shelter in McKinney when someone connected me with Resource Center, and I’m so glad they did. At first, I just went to the hot meals program to feed myself, but I continued to come back because I knew I wouldn’t be judged, and the people there knew what I was going through. It became one of my only outlets for communication. Soon, I moved into an apartment that the Center helped me fill with food, clothing, and toiletries. Then, I could finally manage my disease because they helped me find treatment, and I had a place to stay. They helped me navigate the complexities that come with living with HIV.
Resource Center was there to share my joy when I stepped on the scale and FINALLY had a healthy weight. Every step of the way they were there for me, whether it was assisting me filling out insurance paperwork or giving me a hot meal to ensure my medication works optimally, they were there.
Years later, Resource Center is still here for me. I can still get what I need at the food pantry, and I am a dedicated volunteer and one of their biggest advocates. I am also the chair of the Ryan White Planning Council. Now I can help those who were once in my position because Resource Center taught me to navigate the system and understand the needs and variables of HIV/AIDS. Without the Center, I would be lost.”