A Neighborhood Divided: Community Resistance to an AIDS Care Facility

By Jane Balin | Go to book overview

[3]

AIDS Moves into the Neighborhood

The Reverend Emery Schmidt was surprised to see so many people gathered in Harvey Gelb's living room. Recalling the phone call he had received from Harvey Gelb several days earlier, Emery Schmidt said that he had expected the meeting to be “a small informal gathering of concerned neighbors, but it was a group of more than forty people!” He also remembered that his first impulse on hearing Harvey's invitation had been to tell Harvey about the communitywide meeting sponsored by the Regional Interfaith Council (RIC) at the Jewish Center, where he and Mark Johnson intended to discuss their plans for turning Elder Homes into a forty-two-bed AIDS care facility. But, as their phone conversation continued, the Reverend Schmidt decided not to mention that meeting. He “found Harvey to be very warm and engaging and felt that no harm would be done to meet informally with a small group of neighbors.” In fact, once he and Harvey had hung up, the Reverend Schmidt concluded that a separate meeting with a small group of neighbors who lived closest to Elder Homes could be beneficial. It would give him and Mark Johnson “a better idea of the neighborhood's concerns about the opening of an AIDS facility in the community” and would help the two men “better prepare for [their] subsequent meeting with the entire community at the Jewish Center.”

Initially, Mark Johnson was not as optimistic as Emery Schmidt. When Emery told Mark about his phone conversation with Harvey, Mark's “antenna went up immediately.” But, as he had done “time and again, ” Emery convinced Mark “to look on the bright side” and reminded Mark of his “ini

-25-

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