Health & Family

What the AIDS crisis taught me about love

Deborah Warren,60. is founder, President & CEO of the Regional Aids Interfaith Network (RAIN).
Deborah Warren,60. is founder, President & CEO of the Regional Aids Interfaith Network (RAIN). Courtesy of Deborah Warren

Deborah Warren, 60, is founder, president & CEO of the Regional Aids Interfaith Network (RAIN).

When the AIDS crisis evolved in the early ’90s, I didn’t know anything about how to start a nonprofit organization. We were in the midst of such pain and urgency as a community and as a country around AIDS.

The first volunteer care teams that I was involved with were started in Charlotte in the fall of 1992. My generation was not equipped to lose so many of our peers in such a short period of time.

I learned so much about the generosity of people. People’s willingness to offer care and friendship and support because they found meaning in doing so was inspiring. People have enormous capacity to love – complete strangers and people who were entirely different from themselves.

For so much of my early life, I doubted myself. I doubted my capabilities and competence. I learned through this period I could set aside these doubts because I couldn’t do anything else. I simply had to act.

I love to learn. I love learning from other people. In the middle of this, after we had grown, there were times when I felt pushed too far from my comfort zone. In retrospect, after coming through the experience, I’ve come to learn how much personal growth this provided me.

Our thoughts aren’t always accurate; the haphazard thoughts that enter all our minds aren’t who we are.

Real wisdom comes for me when I take quiet time for reflection and real guidance. I love stillness and peace – it’s restorative, the way I replenish myself and open myself up to grace and guidance.

As told to Michael J. Solender

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