We are privileged to share this personal reflection from Karly Taylor about her family’s section of the quilt in honor of John “Mike” Kerrins.
This year, I wanted to be part of the annual Emory Cares International Service Day. I chose to participate in The NAMES Project because the subject matter was one that I am familiar with, both on a professional and personal level. I work for Emory’s Office of Research Administration, and I have the wonderful opportunity to see the various research projects that our dedicated investigators and research staff put forward for the treatment and cure of AIDS. I feel proud of the work and commitment that is being done by our Emory colleagues in their continuous effort against this disease.
Back in 1987, a group of individuals wanted to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. This meeting of devoted friends and lovers served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Today, the Quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic. More than 48,000 individual 3’x6’ memorial panels — most commemorating the lives of people who have died of AIDS — have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members. Each year, the NAMES Project unfolds sections of the Quilt at thousands of places across the nation.
In 1996, my uncle lost his battle with AIDS. My family created a quilt in his memory, and it was donated to the Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN) organization, and then later, the quilt became part of The NAMES Project. Recently, my family wanted to locate our quilt with hopes of having the opportunity to view it again. It had been many years since any of us had seen the quilt, and all we knew was that the quilt was traveling, being displayed at various events. I contacted LAAN regarding the attempt to find the location of our quilt, and LAAN was eager to assist in the search.
In the meantime, Emory Cares Day arrived, and I was off to The Names Project to volunteer. Little did I know what was in store for me. After meeting the Director of Operations, Roddy Williams, and being assigned our various tasks, including locating specific quilts out of giant crates, I got right to work. After a few hours, I was engaged in conversation with Mr. Williams and casually mentioned that my family had also created a quilt, and we were currently searching for it. Mr. Williams said he would also look into the matter and try to find out any information about the quilt’s whereabouts. It didn’t take long. Not only did Mr. Williams find out where our family’s quilt was, but also the quilt was just a few feet away! It had actually arrived at the NAMES Project after some extensive traveling. Mr. Williams retrieved our quilt and promptly had it displayed for my viewing, as well as for my fellow volunteers. I then had the opportunity to share my personal story of our family’s quilt with our group.
Emory Cares Day was a wonderful day for me. Not only did I give my time to a wonderful organization, but I also got back so much more – a very special moment that I will always remember.
– Karly Taylor, MS, Senior Conflict of Interest Specialist, Emory University