Ruth Coker Burks AIDS Memorial
Ruth Coker Burks was there when no one else was. She was a friend and supporter of gay men who had AIDS at a time when everyone else turned them away. Selflessly giving time, compassion and unconditional love to those who so desperately needed it.
Please read her full story here:
You can also hear her story at StoryCorps here:
And now Ruth needs our help! She has had significant health setbacks, was discriminated against by an employer that did not want to have his business associated with AIDS activism, and she was blackballed. She lost her health insurance, then, without health insurance, she suffered a stroke and clots in her lungs. She needs assistance to build the memorial as well as a modest amount to take care of her health bills and expenses. She helped so many when no one else would, please help her now!
Hi Everyone. I just received an email from Ruth. :)
She is very excited and grateful that we are working towarr dream! She said:
It was always my hope that a monument would someday be placed there with the names of those brave men whose families didn't want them to bury them. I have also buried a few whose families didn't have the money to bury them..It is a peaceful place and my guys knew that if nothing else they were loved by me. It gave them such peace to know that they had a final resting place.
Let's make this happen! Please share it on your social media and directly with friends and family. Thanks for your support!
We reached our $50,000 goal and can't thank you all enough. We raised our stretch goal to $65,000 to help set up a long term fund to keep the memorial and cemetery maintained. More updates to come soon. Thank you all so much!
I don't know if this request will be noticed elsewhere (I commented on the newspaper article, like so many). I totally respect that the monument will contain everything planned beforehand, including the names of those good men that Ruth directly supported. I also request that a coda be added, similar to this wording: THIS MEMORIAL IS ALSO DEDICATED TO ALL OF THE OTHER PEOPLE WHO DIED ALONE, AFRAID, UNLOVED AND UNREMEMBERED. They deserve to be included, too. There were so many!
When I discovered this about an hour ago, it was at $19k. It has now exceeded $20k. I am an unemployed military veteran and going to school full time, so I can't personally donate at the moment but I'll definitely get my parents and family to. I'll donate by spreading the word. At least before I have to stop procrastinating on reddit (which lead me to this heartbreaking yet heartwarming story) and go back to my nursing homework and studies. BTW, I have dried up tears all over my face. Never forget.
I donate in honor of my mother Shirley Reynolds. She loved me unconditionally, fiercely, unapologeticly, abundantly and lavishly. She gave me the ability to breathe and the capibility to love. These amazing creatures are rare. My mother was one and Ruth is one. I was placed in my mothers arms by the universe and will forever be thankful. Love has made all the difference....
I lost so many friends and coworkers to AIDS in the late 80's/early 90's. Reading this article brought me to tears remembering the horrors all too well. Ruth, you have my respect and gratitude for all your kindness. Thank you for all you've done and continue to do. You have surely left a loving legacy. I will be donating the gofundme and wish you nothing but the best!
I have donated to honor the memory of my very dear friend, Bill Bamford, who died from AIDS complications in 1995. His Dixieland Jazz funeral was the first (and the last) that I was ever a part of ... I keep that memory close in my heart. I still miss my best buddy. Thank you for what you did, and continue to do, for those who were abandoned. ♥
I'm in tears here. I literally have $5.13 to my name right now and I'd give it to Ruth if I didn't have to eat. It's my fervent prayer to Goddess that this can grow beyond the memorial and Ruth's medical bills to so much more! What a wonderful loving legacy you are giving everyone you helped.
Just wanted to say. I have over 300,000 fans on my DJ page. I have put the word out there about this wonderful lady, and I hope it will drive enough donations to get this goal reached! Travis if there is anything I can do for you, please contact me. I am so inspired by this lady. Gives me hope in humanity again. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to the very worthy cause!
Thank you Ruth for following your heart and doing what is right. These men deserve to be remembered. It would be wonderful if there was an online memorial list of the unmarked graves, even before a physical memorial is made. Perhaps the Melting Pot Genealogical Society would add them to this grave marker list for Files Cemetery http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~armpgs/files-cemetery.html An online list could include details which might not fit on a memorial plaque: names, dates of birth and death, place of death and their grave plot location. Visiting friends, genealogists and future historians will greatly appreciate it!
I found this page only because I recently read an article about Ruth, her work and the precious people who've been touched by her. In all honesty, upon reading her story published in a newspaper article in July of last year, I was attempting to contact her to see if I could be of any assistance in making this happen. I am happy to see it is well underway. Thank you Ruth, thank you donors.
This story struck a powerful chord with me, and I am very happy to donate in honor of my uncle Bill. These individuals buried in the Files Cemetery in Hot Springs, Arkansas, especially the ones who were abandoned by their loved ones, deserve a monument that shines as bright as their beautiful souls. As a gay man living in 2017, I'm certain they would be smiling at the progress we have made in breaking down the dreadful stigmas which surround this community. Love will always win! I am a student of Landscape Architecture who has studied monuments and memorials, and I am very curious to hear about the design progress. Has a landscape architect/designer been selected? If not, I think this could be a phenomenal design competition in which talented designers & supporters of the LGBT community across the country could participate in. It would help evolve this conversation into something greater. I certainly would be incredibly honored to contribute design ideas to this cause!
If $25,000 was the original goal and it was achieved 7 months ago, where is the monument? What progress has been made on it? Are there drawings or some sort of rendering of what it would be. And, if $25,000 was needed originally why was that changed to $50,000 then to $65,000 and then to $75,000. This sends up red flags. The original project was a worthwhile project and I have promoted it, but now I'm wondering why the only progress shown has been to keep increasing the fundraising demands.
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When I saw the devastation that AIDS did to the gay community of London and how the public reacted it made me so sad. People like Ruth were a beacon of hope, I remember when Princess Diana made a public point of shaking an HIV patients hand on a hospital visit it really started to turn things around.
Such a hero. An angel on this earth. I wish everyone knew this story. God bless you Ruth.
to many friends lost to this terrible disease glad there was also some very loving folks to ease the pain, thank you Ruth and so many others
If you need additional PR support in promoting this, please contact me. I have some connections with the press.