Biographical / Historical
The AIDS Working Group of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was first established in 1992, a result of the discussion of AIDS at a number of monthly meetings and two threshing sessions of PYM. The convener of the AIDS working group, Kenneth Sutton (Central Philadelphia MM), stated that the group wished "to discover what it is that God is calling Friends to do about the AIDS epidemic." The group soon discovered its purpose with a proposal from Carolyn Schodt, a nurse and former professor of nursing at the Temple University School of Allied Health. After witnessing a program of visitation to AIDS patients at the San Francisco Zen Hospice, Schodt approached the AIDS working group and proposed a similar program, called "A Quaker Ministry to Persons With AIDS." Volunteers in this program visited those most chronically afflicted by the disease. They sought to provide solace, friendship, and spirituality to these patients in the last days and weeks before they passed away.
Though the AIDS working group organized a series of retreats for persons with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers, taught classes on AIDS prevention and care, and organized a Quaker Presence at the Philadelphia AIDS walk, the majority of its budget and services were devoted to the "Quaker Ministry to Persons With AIDS". On September 11,1999 at a Board retreat, the Board of Trustees of the Quaker Ministry to Persons With AIDS, and its director, Schodt, made an announcement to lay down its program of direct services to AIDS clients. This responsibility was taken over by the AIDS working group, though no longer under the name of "A Quaker Ministry to Persons With AIDS". On June 30, 2000, the AIDS working group was also laid down, as the only service it had come to provide was the visitation of those infected with the disease. Many of the volunteers continued their visits, however, either independently or under the auspices of Shilaom, a sister spiritual ministry to people with AIDS.