Hearing an unexpected and/or unwanted medical diagnosis can bring on worries and fears. In the 80s and 90s, tens of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) were left with much uncertainty and, thus, “the AIDS movement” was born.
Our film shows how a group of PHAs from southern Ontario, Canada, who were diagnosed with HIV between 1987 and 2013, stayed meaningfully engaged. At first, the news was life-limiting, but they turned the news around by choosing to support one another, help others and make the world a better place.
The film begins by showing where people were in their lives when first diagnosed, and the unrest this news caused for them and their loved ones. It gives a glimpse of the journeys of seven persons living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) in the film (in order of appearance): Greg Scratch, Joanne Schingh, Mark McCallum, Don Turner, Jack Haight, Eli Martin and Steve Pratt. These stories represent millions of others around the world.
Michael Brennan, Executive Director, Pozitive Pathways, formerly the AIDS Committee of Windsor, and Sean Rourke, PhD, a renowned HIV/AIDS researcher from Windsor who is now with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto back up these statements and add new information. Kenny Gbadebo, Executive Director, Youth Connection Association, comments on behalf of new Canadians.
The film looks at the obstacles and set-backs experienced by long-term survivors – isolation, poverty, PTSD, unemployment, and more. The participants talk about a 'system” that is not set up to take care of aging PHAs. The film shows how they take care of one another, which is an important part of what Jack is referring to when he says "HIV put me on a spiritual quest."
Recovering from the earth-shattering news, long-term survivors in part made it because they found new purpose in life by helping others. The PHAs discuss moments that shaped their lives, and the relationships they built along the way. Their resiliency is our inspiration!
Aging and HIV: A Story of Resiliency is available for FREE viewings only, and educational purposes. We hope that it serves to combat the isolation of long-term survivors, many of whom were determined advocates when the movement needed them most.
We also hope that our film inspires anyone who has been diagnosed, or has a family member or friend who has been diagnosed, with HIV/AIDS or any life-threatening or serious illness. The message is universal, regardless of illness, ethnicity, age or gender.
Amanda Gellman, in the 90s, served as the Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Windsor as well as a Founding Board Member of AIDS Walk Canada. During this time she worked with numerous AIDS Service Organizations across Canada, as a speaker and mentor on fundraising and community development.
Amanda has since maintained many relationships with those living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs), many of whom are in this film. They remain life-long friends and were the inspiration for this film. "Aging & HIV: A Story of Resiliency" is meant to be a community and educational project, available FREE to the public.
Following her work at the AIDS Committee, Amanda served as Special Assistant to the President at the University of Windsor, and later as Vice-President, University Advancement. Since 2012, Amanda has been working to build the successful Film Camp for Kids & Youth in Windsor, Ontario, which hires post-secondary film students to instruct 8 to 18 year olds in the art of filmmaking. She founded and funded the first camp in 2013.
Amanda also serves and president of the Windsor Centre for Film, Digital Media & the Creative Arts and the Media Arts Community Centre & Museum.Amanda has coordinated a South Africa AIDS Project through her Anglican parish since 1997, and helped to raise funds to take eight university and college students on a three-week mission to South Africa in May 2013. Through the OSMTH Canada, Amanda was one of two women appointed from 2008-2012 as a representative to the annual NGO parallel sessions at the United Nations Status of Women Conferences in New York where human rights issues are a major focus. (This group is the motivator for her next film!)
A native of Newfoundland, Amanda Gellman is today President of MANAN Strategy Consultants (manan is a Gaelic term for new beginning and opportunities) and a Partner with The Funding Envelope. For her past work on behalf of diverse causes, Amanda has received the 40 under 40 in St. Louis Recognition, the McDonnell Douglas Feed America Award, the University of Windsor’s Charles Clark Award, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Windsor’s Women of the Year 2002 recognition, the Windsor University Friend of Retirees’ Award, Honorary Membership in the International Golden Key Honour Society (nominated by UWindsor students), the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Canada South Association of Fundraising Professionals' Crystal Lifetime Achievement Award.
Amanda has served on many Boards and committees over the years. As examples, she currently holds a seat of the Boards of Canterbury College at the University of Windsor and the Essex Regional Conservation Foundation. In the past, she served on the Boards of: the Great Lakes Manufacturing Council (Treasurer), the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator (Chair), the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation (Chair), Windsor Family Credit Union, Leadership Windsor Essex (Founding Committee), the University of Windsor, the Multicultural Council of Windsor Essex, the St. Louis Hunger Coalition, the St. Louis Southside Employment Coalition (Chair), the Rural Urban Agri Linkage Project (Founder), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Canadian Government Relations Chair to the International External Relations Committee of AFP International and Founding Chair of AFP’s Canada South Chapter), and many others.