The Late Karen Williams

As a 54 year old African American woman living with AIDS, I wish that I could say exactly when, where and how I contracted HIV. Unfortunately, those are questions very few of us infected with HIV/AIDS can answer with very much certainty. There is one indisputable fact; for many years, I lived a lifestyle that put me at risk again and again. I did not use IV drugs, but I was in a few relationships with men including my ex-husband, who were IV drug users. I think that the way I contracted the disease is not as important as how it changed my life. I like to think that I was living a normal healthy lifestyle prior to discovering my status, but I’d only be kidding myself and anyone else who knew me. 

I discovered that I was HIV when I was hospitalized in 1999 with a heart attack. The news sent me into a state of depression, denial, anger and fear, which I didn’t recover from for more than two years. Like many people, I didn’t know a thing about HIV at first and I didn’t try to learn anything. I was given a handbook about HIV/AIDS and a Resource Guide upon my first visit to the clinic. I tossed the books into the garbage as I was exiting the hospital. That has all changed now. Thanks to the Beautiful Gate Outreach Center, I have learned so much about this disease that I am now able to discuss it in an intelligent manner to anyone who ask me a question.

Beautiful Gate has afforded me the opportunity to meet some life-long good friends through the staff and our support group, “Caring Hearts.” I also attend a second support group called “We Care.” Beautiful Gate is also sponsoring me for a two-year fellowship at the African American HIV University in Los Angeles, CA. (Karen was initially rejected then called back one week later to participate. She was just a few months shy of graduating).

I can only say thanks to God, the Beautiful Gate Outreach Center, Bethel AME Church and the entire HIV/AIDS community, “ I am finally living as normal and close to a healthy lifestyle as I am physically able.”

 Sincerely, Karen W. (written 2005)

Karen passed away suddenly in 2006. In her honor, Beautiful Gate’s support group for women living with HIV was named ”Karen’s Dreamgirls!”

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Brian M.

“Beautiful Gate was my refuge. I had nowhere to go other than the shelter. During the day I would come faithfully to the center, sleep on the chairs or floor, eat (most of the time they fed me), or just talk. And although I was still using drugs, they never turned me away or lost hope in me.”


Photographed is Brian’s appearance when first arriving at Beautiful Gate along with his current photograph.

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The Late Michael Holloway

“Today my dreams are coming true. The Lord has given me my wings to soar. I always dreamt of speaking in front of a lot of people, but I didn’t know it would be because of my HIV. Living with HIV has been a blessing in disguise. I am so grateful to God for never giving up on me, restoring my faith, the love and support of my family, my church, my community, and the Beautiful Gate Outreach Center.”

Michael was tragically taken from us on August 15, 2008. In his honor and memory, Beautiful Gate’s support group for men living with HIV/AIDS was named-”Mike’s M.I.M.E. (Men Impacting Men-Empowerment!) Support Group.

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