Lizzie Bellamy is a native of Longs, South Carolina born February 25, 1976. She is the mother of six beautiful children, eleven grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. In 1997, Lizzy was diagnosed with HIV. In 2012, she was inducted into Positive Voices, which gave her an opportunity to better herself and educate others. During this time, Lizzy was a young, widowed mother fighting stigma in the world around her. She enjoyed having the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Later, Lizzy became a member of A Family Affair Serenity Garden program, which helped her and her children openly discuss HIV. AFA has enlightened Lizzy and other mothers that a healthy life can be given and achieved with a positive HIV diagnosis. Her life has been enriched and empowered with wonderful sisterhoods, organizations, and mentors that have truly brought dignity and joy to her life. Lizzy is grateful because they each have helped her continue living her best life.
The AIDS epidemic caused by HIV found its way to Gwendolyn's family in 1984, when her cousin raised as her brother living in Los Angeles became ill and was hospitalized. Her aunt summoned family members to visit him because he was diagnosed with pneumocystis pneumonia and was unexpected to get better. After his return home, he was diagnosed with AIDS and his life expectancy was within 18 months. October 1984 at the age of 28, her brother died.
Gwendolyn considers the trauma her and her family endured “bittersweet”. Her mission and promise to her brother was to use her time helping those coping with AIDS and HIV. She is willing to educate herself, serve as an advocate, sit, and listen, and give her support where it is needed. Gwendolyn is thirty-six-year retiree of Orangeburg Consolidated School District #5, Special Education Educator (6-12).
She is a proud Alumnus of Claflin University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English Education. After graduation, she furthered her studies at South Carolina State University, University of South Carolina at Aiken, and Aiken Technical College. She is currently enjoying participating in a “Trauma Informed Care" (TIC) course at Houston University. Gwendolyn is a firm believer that "Truly, God will order your steps." A Family Affair (AFA) landed at her feet and she stepped abroad. She has been acquainted with the organization for several years and has always admired their work. She is now proud to be a part of the AFA family. Gwendolyn's motto is,
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, compassion, some humor and some style.”
Estoria Wright is an advocate who fearlessly speaks out loud about her HIV status. She is a native of Miami, FL and relocated to Columbia, SC in 2010. While living in SC she was held against her will and taken advantage of by someone she thought she could trust at which time she was infected with HIV. After being diagnosed with an AIDS status in 2014, her journey of survival began. Her motivation is to help others to do the same, survive. Estoria attended the Women's Empowerment Academy (WEA) in 2015 where she found her voice of advocacy. The WEA was created and is spearheaded by the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council (SCHAC) and P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. Voices (PV), a Women’s Health Advocacy Network of HIV+ women who openly disclose their status, speak with legislation, and share their “story” to impact change around the world. As a successful graduate of the WEA, Estoria decided to apply to become a member of P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. Voices and was nominated and selected in 2016. As a PV member and graduate of the WEA, she has blossomed and started using the information that she learned to educate others. Her peers were so proud of her growth that she was invited to do her first speaking engagement at Benedict College at the World AIDS Day Event in 2015. She has become an active volunteer for many activities with local agencies and is also a member of several statewide organizations such as the SC HIV Task Force (SCHTF) and the Positive Advocacy Committee (PAC).Estoria is a powerful representative for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and a strong advocate in the battle to win the war against HIV and AIDS.
Amber K. Geohaghan is a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina. She is a proud graduate of South Carolina State University where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, and a Master's of Education. Amber's passion is serving her community and advocating for under privileged and marginalized individuals. Her motto is, "Aspire to Inspire Before You Expire."~ Author Unknown
David Lee Smith is a native of Union, South Carolina. He is the son of Lee Robert Smith and Dorothy Susan Smith. David is the CEO and Founder of Smith Consulting Firm. As a Consultant David provides services for physically, mentally, or emotionally ill or injured people who wish to receive care in the comforts of their own home. He is also a contracted driver for Claflin University.
David received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Benedict College in 1997, and his Master of Arts Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from South Carolina State University in 2008. He is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Certified Global Career Development Facilitator. He received certification in HIV/AIDS Community-Based HIV/STD/Hepatitis Prevention through SC DHEC and The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Clinical Training Center is located at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Infectious Disease Division, in Columbia.
He began working in the field of HIV/AIDS in 2006 with Minority AIDS Council. As an HIV/AIDS advocate, he has been advocating for people living with HIV/AIDS. David became saddened by the stories he heard from people who were living with the virus, their daily struggles were heartbreaking. Having seen their ups and downs, lack of community support, lack of family support, and intolerable medical treatment and discrimination. He saw a community ravaged by HIV/AIDS. It has destroyed many homes. He made it his personal goal to make a difference. He stepped in and demanded change. He has empowered people in his community living with HIV/AIDS to stand up and fight for their rights.
Elaine Steele was born July 11, 1955 in Orangeburg SC, and raised in Yonkers, NY. While living in New York, she drove tour & school buses for 33 years. In 1989, Elaine was diagnosed HIV+, and has been living with HIV for 32 years. In 2013, she moved back to South Carolina to care for her aging mother. Elaine has been married for 6 years, and is the proud mother of 6 daughters and 12 grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to cook, sew, make beautiful wreaths, and landscape.
In 2015, Elaine became a part of the Prestige Society of Undetectable in Orangeburg, SC where she served as Chairperson for 2 years. In 2017, she received a Motivational Award for advocating and empowering people living with HIV and others in the community. Elaine went on to join the SC Dream Team Social Justice Coalition, a group of PLWH and allies. This organization seeks to modernize South Carolina’s outdated HIV Criminalization Laws and to ensure human rights are not violated. Elaine has been a board member of A Family Affair Living Our Best Life for 3 years and she has been a part of various activities including; 50+ Raising Our Awareness and Representation Retreat, COVID-19 Self Care Virtual Sessions, and the Annual Serenity Memorial Garden.
Elaine’s motto is “Love the Skin You're In” and she lives by this motto every day.
Patricia (PAT) Kelly is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Orangeburg, SC. She is aging gracefully and gratefully. In 1985, she was diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in 1998. Pat is a mother of three, and a grandmother and great-grandmother of eight. In 2005, Pat founded A Family Affair HIV/AIDS Ministry at Victory Tabernacle in Orangeburg, South Carolina. In 2008, Pat was among the first class of P.O.S.I.T.I V. E. Voices Women’s Health Advocacy Network and the Photo Voice project. She is a founding member of Positive Women’s Network USA, and a former board member.
In 2009, Pat became a member of Common Threads, South Carolina class. She later completed the Micro Enterprising training in 2010, and is now the crafter trainer for Common Threads and Vice Chair of the steering committee. Pat has participated in all the Marketplaces of Common Threads at USCA. She is also on the steering committee of US Persons Living with HIV Caucus. She was a team member of Be The Next Generation- AID United/ AIDS Alliance (National)- where she presented biomedical workshops to her community. She has completed training under AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, and Families (National) as a Consumer Corp Trainer.
Pat was honored by 20/20 Leading Women’s Society- of SisterLove Inc-First class (Regional). She has held several leadership positions including formal board member of Vision Leadership Institute and a member of SC HIV Planning Council (local) where she chairs the Women’s Work Group. Formal board member of USC/Claflin Center of Excellent in Cancer and HIV Research (Local) where she served as Co- Chair and Chair of Membership Committee from 2006-2011. Former board member of Minority AIDS Council of Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun (MAC) Counties (Local) where she also volunteered as Co- Program Coordinator for MAC. Principal Investigator of MUSC Community Base Preparatory Research Project EX- Offenders Discussion of Unmet Services-(EXODUS), and a member of National Minority AIDS Council.
In September 2011, she received an honor from the Positive Living Conference as the first black women to receive the Martin Delaney Power of One HIV/AIDS Advocacy Award. As a Common Threader, she had the honor of being among the first US groups to make red ribbons for Levi Strauss World AIDS Day. Currently under the Micro Enterprising of Common Threads, she has exhibited at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. She is on the SC HIV Planning Council where she serves as the Chair of the Women's Work Group. She has many affiliations, local, regional and national. Pat's personal motto is “As I serve others I serve myself, I live to serve”
Bonetta Spratley 51, is a native of Hopewell, Virginia born July 19, 1969. She is the parent of two daughters Lindsey and Lauryn. Bonetta was diagnosed with HIV Nov. 1990 at the age of 19. After several years she began to get involved in many local, community events with the local Red Cross, Health Department, and other organizations in Virginia that had HIV/AIDS programs. She began sharing her personal story with HIV in 2003 at schools, women shelters, churches, and HIV functions. Mrs. Spratley also implemented HIV 101 in the local jail monthly for several years.
Bonetta moved to South Carolina in 2009 and has since then been involved in the community as a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS, worked for Wateree AIDS Task Force a local ASO in her community as assistant to the Executive Director, a Medical case manager for Sandhills Medical Foundation(FQHC) for 5 years, as well as a peer adherence coach for Tandem Health(FQHC) for 2 years. She became a part of P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. VOICES (2010), an HIV Positive Women’s Health Advocacy Network, addressing the economic and environmental impact that the HIV/AIDS epidemic poses on individuals, communities and ultimately society.
Bonetta implemented the Common Threads model, changing the beliefs, attitudes, and perspectives of participants and community members who are privileged to hear her life experiences. Also, she became a part of Positive Women’s Network-USA SC Regional Chapter (2012), where she serves as Co-Chair and has been the Administrator Assistant for the Positive Organizing Project 3-5 Grant’s working towards modernizing the HIV Criminalization laws in South Carolina and currently on the board of A Family Affair as Administrator Assistant. Her mission is to “Come against the stigma, spread awareness, and advocate for ALL that have been diagnosed and affected by the HIV epidemic!”