When Walter was diagnosed with HIV in 1985, little was known about the disease. “They basically gave me AZT, said ‘good luck’ and sent me away,” he recalls.
As his disease progressed, Walter was fortunate to be living with his grandfather, who raised him and had earned the title, “Dad.” His grandfather prepared meals and took him to appointments, often waiting in doctors’ offices for hours. His grandfather’s kindness and support comforted Walter as he battled HIV and the resulting complications.
When his grandfather passed away about eight years ago, Walter was devastated. “I missed him tremendously. It was a difficult time — I felt that there was no one left in the universe who cared about me.”
He tried to stay in his home, but could get nursing care only on a limited basis. Needing more regular care, Walter moved to Hope Care Center, a facility in south Kansas City that provides skilled nursing for HIV-positive residents.
At first, Walter believed he was going there to die — with no support system, he had given up on life. But while at Hope Care Center, Walter received the physical and psychological care he greatly needed. He also made good friends who helped him realize that he deserved to have people who cared for him. His emotional and physical health was renewed.
After five years at Hope Care Center and feeling healthier and more hopeful, Walter felt it was time to move on. He says he was grateful to get a voucher through SAVE, Inc., and has now been in his home for three years. “I gained my freedoms back when I moved here,” he says.
Today, Walter is taking life one day at a time. “I’ll probably live here until I leave this earth,” he says. And now he can rest easy knowing that a compassionate staff and caring friends will be with him for the rest of his journey.