Reneé is a 58 year old African American woman who now serves on the board of Amethyst Women’s Project.
Presently, I am a peer outreach educator; I do street outreach, I do presentations on health related topics and since January of this year I have been a Board Member of Amethyst Women’s Project.Being part of the Board I advocate on behalf of the peers and volunteers.
I am a recovering addict. I have used over thirty years. I have been clean and sober going on twelve years and I am HIV positive. I have an AIDS diagnosis, and I have Hepatitis C. When I first was diagnosed in ’94, that diagnosis kept me out there, using drugs, because I felt that I didn’t have a life. I felt no one would want me, who would love me, what could I do with my life that would be meaningful.
This is why I decided to come to Amethyst; I wanted to do something to make the difference because God has spared my life. Amethyst is about empowering women who want to do something for themselves and they encourage us to challenge ourselves to achieve our goals. Amethyst has an intensive ten-week workshop series where you get to learn all about substance use, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and the importance of confidentiality.
Like a lotus flower… they grow in a swamp, in the mud. But you know, when it blossoms, it comes up beautiful, pretty; a beautiful flower. I look at that you know, and I think, I’ve been in the mud, but today I’m not, I’ve blossomed.
After completing the workshop series I saw that my process was one of continuous growth. Coming here made me feel like I was doing something very positive by helping others. It is always a great feeling to refer people to Amethyst for treatment then see them clean and sober. In remembrance of my mom, who died from liver cancer, I became interested in learning all there was to learn about Hepatitis-C and I became certified to conduct Hep-C presentations throughout the community.
My goal, first and foremost, is to stay healthy and to take care of my medical issues. I’m currently attending Brooklyn College where I’m taking a computer class to become proficient in computers. At Amethyst we are now conducting all our presentations on PowerPoint and I want to learn all I can in this area, as well as Microsoft Word.
I sometimes think back and I look at myself now, and… I feel a little bit overwhelmed, ‘Wow, Reneé, you finally got it together’. Like a lotus flower… they grow in a swamp, in the mud. But you know, when it blossoms, it comes up beautiful, pretty; a beautiful flower. I look at that you know, and I think, I’ve been in the mud, but today I’m not, I’ve blossomed.