San Francisco’s Congresswoman, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was honored on July 20, 2013 by the National AIDS Memorial Grove with the installation of a unique architectural feature, “The Nancy Pelosi Leadership Walkway”, which pays tribute to her years of leadership in the fight against AIDS. The Nancy Pelosi Leadership Walkway is located at the entrance of the Nation’s AIDS Memorial and serves as a permanent symbol of the path Leader Pelosi has walked as a leader throughout her career and personal life on issues she has cared deeply about. Made of the same stone used in the Grove’s current hardscape, the Walkway features a bordering wall, which serves as an invitation for future generations to follow their own path in advancing their own causes and passions.
More than one hundred volunteers, family and friends joined the Congresswoman at the dedication ceremony, which was preceded by The National AIDS Memorial Grove’s monthly community volunteer workday. There, Pelosi, as she has done so many times during her career, planted trees, flowers and shrubs, helping to maintain the grounds of the National Memorial she helped establish.
“We are honored to dedicate this walkway in honor of our Congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi for her years of friendship, unwavering passion and leadership in shining a light on one of the world’s most devastating epidemics, HIV and AIDS,” said John Cunningham, executive director of the National AIDS Memorial Grove. “She has always been there, standing in our corner, leading the way. Today, we honor her with this walkway in hopes that it will serve as a reminder of not only her courage, but inspire future generations to follow their own dreams, causes and passions.”
Since her first day in Congress, combating HIV and AIDS has been a priority for Congresswoman Pelosi. Her many accomplishments includes the accelerated development of an HIV vaccine, expansion of access to Medicaid for people living with HIV, and increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative and other research, care, treatment and prevention initiatives vital to people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. During the last five years alone, she fought to prevent drastic cuts in care and treatment funds for San Francisco – restoring nearly $21 million from cuts to San Francisco’s systems of care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
In 1996, at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Congresswoman Pelosi wrote the National AIDS Memorial Grove Act, elevating The Grove as a National Memorial. Later that year, President Clinton signed the legislation into law, creating The National AIDS Memorial Grove as a dedicated space in the national landscape where millions of Americans touched directly or indirectly by AIDS can gather to heal, hope, and remember.
“I am touched and humbled by this honor,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “We all need a place to go where we can remember those loved ones we have lost to AIDS/HIV and where we can find the strength to pick up the pieces and continue to persevere. That is why I continue to come back to The Grove because it reminds me of loved ones lost, but more importantly it strengthens my commitment to do whatever it takes to find a cure and stop this senseless loss of life.”
Community Volunteer Workdays are a volunteer opportunity that takes place at the Grove on the third Saturday of every month from March through October, where individuals and groups help with the work of creating and gardening activities: clearing weeds and debris, mulching and hauling topsoil, planting new trees and shrubs, and other related activities within the Grove. Congresswoman Pelosi has faithfully commemorated her milestone years in Congress by volunteering at the Grove. On her 10th, 20th and 25th anniversary years in Congress, she planted commemorative trees. She has volunteered on many other occasions over the years, often bringing her family and grandchildren to be a regular part of the Grove’s mission.