HIV AIDS Stigma and education

Jim Geary

Born January 3, 1952 Jim grew up as an only child in the Washington DC area. While studying biology at the University of Maryland in 1970 he heard on the radio a group of Quakers reading the list of the war dead in front of the Pentagon. Jim decided that night that he needed to get involved. The next day he volunteered for Catholic Peace Fellowship in Washington DC and eventually served as its director.

Affected deeply by the passing of his maternal grandmother at 15, Jim moved to San Francisco in 1974 and began working as a nurse’s aide on an oncology floor. Because of his reputation and ability to provide compassionate interaction and a nurturing touch he was frequently assigned to patients who were in the process of dying.

During this period Jim also continued his political activism in San Francisco working with Supervisor Harvey Milk and others to defeat the anti-gay Briggs Initiative, which sought to fire all gay and lesbians teachers in the state, as well as non-gay teachers who associated with them.

Jim volunteered for the Shanti Project in 1978 as an emotional support counselor working with people and loved ones who were facing a life-threatening illness. After a few months, he became the director of volunteer/client services.

In October 1981 he formed what was to be the first support group for individuals with AIDS in the world. When the Shanti Project lost its funding in 1982, Jim volunteered to work for no money to keep the organization afloat while he sought funding for the AIDS services that were so desperately needed.

Serving as executive director for seven years he oversaw and developed this premier agency into an internationally acclaimed model of AIDS services which included: an emotional support program, practical support program, residential program, San Francisco General Hospital AIDS unit counseling program, AIDS information and referral program and the recreational activities program.

He is recognized internationally as a respected trainer on the psychosocial issues of people with AIDS, grief counselor and leader in the development of AIDS services.

Jim has been a resident of Ormond Beach since 1989 where he has continued to provide training and service to local AIDS organizations.

Jim shares his life with his lover, Jeff Allen, and their two Pomeranians Jasper and Benji. An active tennis player and current president of the Daytona Beach Metropolitan Bridge Club; Jim is active in several spiritual groups including Quaker Worship, Course in Miracles, and The Way Of Mastery. Jim has been influenced greatly by the writings of Joel Goldsmith and the Infinite Way.

Jim is the recipient of numerous awards including: Outstanding Community Service award presented by the Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights; San Francisco’s Chronicle Hall Of Fame award; AIDS Atlanta Humanitarian award and the prestigious UCSF Medal for extraordinary personal contribution to human health and well-being.