Press Release

Rothko Chapel to Commemorate World AIDS Day

November 21, 2017

Rothko Chapel to Commemorate World AIDS Day

Nonprofit will host morning of music, mediation and prayer, Friday, Dec. 1

HOUSTON – Nov. 21, 2017 – Houston is home to the largest number of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the state.

At least 24,000 are infected with the virus in the city. More than 1.2 million in the U.S. are currently living with HIV, and 36.7 million across the world carry the virus.

The Rothko Chapel is joining a worldwide effort to fight HIV/AIDS, show support for those living with the disease and to commemorate individuals who have lost their lives to the virus.

“We have to work together as a city, country and planet to put a stop to this pandemic,” public programs and community engagement director Ashley Clemmer said. “And one of the first steps is to recognize that AIDS hasn’t gone away. We have to keep showing support for those living with AIDS/HIV, as well as the friends and family members who are impacted.”

World AIDS Day is held on the first December of every year – and people across the globe unite for the cause.

The Rothko Chapel has a special event planned for the occasion –World AIDS Day Observance, slated for 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 1. The chapel is located at 3900 Yupon St. No registration is required. The suggested donation is $15. Contributions may be made online or at the door.

Seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors open around 15 minutes before the program begins.

The event begins at 8 a.m. with pastries and coffee outside at the Chapel’s Plaza.

At 8:30 a.m., attendees will head inside the Chapel for a guided mediation, music and conversation.

Venita Ray, policy manager at Legacy Health, will share some important facts on the current state of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the citywide campaign she’s running to end the virus.

Ray is an attorney with a passion for social justice, equity and advocacy. As the public policy manager for Legacy Community Health in Houston, she monitors health care policy with a focus on HIV/AIDS, manages an advocacy training program for people living with the virus and led a citywide effort to end the epidemic in Houston. 

In addition, Ray works with a number of HIV advocacy organizations such as the Positive Women’s Network-USA, the Afiya Center and Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative. She is committed to ending the raising awareness about HIV, ending the criminalization of people living with HIV and teaching others to advocate for issues that impact the community. 

A moment of silence, prayer and guided reflection will be led by Reverend Laura Mayo, senior minister of Covenant Church.

Rev. Mayo is a graduate of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee and Wake Forest University Divinity School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She completed a year-long CPE chaplaincy program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and also studied at Regent's Park College of Oxford University. 

Music will be performed throughout the experience by Michele Thibeaux on vocals, Denis Cisneros and Jason Mitchell on cajón. Born out of Houston’s Human Development Corporation, Awakenings Movement, this trio uses music to spread love and create healing. 

Thibeaux is a Houston-based, Oakland, California-born singer-songwriter and composer who has been making music for the past 20 years with a goal to inspire others. She classifies her style as “simply soul/alternative.” Cisneros is a guitarist and music educator, who seeks to heal and transform one chord at a time. Mitchell is an independent creative, percussionist, drum instructor and music therapist with over 20 years’ music experience.

Montrose Center and Legacy Community Health are partnering with the Rothko Chapel for the Wolds AIDS Day commemoration.

Established in 1978 as a safe and affirming place for lesbian and gay Houstonians to receive counseling, the Montrose Center has emerged as one of the nation’s leading full-service LGBT centers. The organization’s services have expanded to meet the changing needs of the city’s diverse community – and include substance abuse treatment, support and advocacy for LGBT survivors of violent crimes, care and assistance for individuals with HIV/AIDS, free community wellness programs and activities and programs for our community’s most vulnerable and isolated.

Legacy Community Health is the largest community health system in the region, with more than 30 clinics in Houston, Deer Park, Baytown and Beaumont. The non-profit organization, a United Way-affiliated agency, provides adult primary care, pediatrics, behavioral health services, OB/GYN and maternity, and comprehensive HIV/AIDS care to primarily low-income patients. In the 1980s, Legacy was called the Montrose Clinic, a first responder in the AIDS crisis.

“We invite the community to join us in showing your support and solidarity with the millions of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS,” Clemmer said. “It is an occasion to reflect about the more than 35 million people who have died from HIV/AIDS over the past decade -- and to consider how to better care for the 36.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS today.”

For registration, and for more information about the Rothko Chapel and the full calendar of upcoming programs, workshops and events, visit or call 713-524-9839.

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