Sonya’s Open House Party

Texas

Southwest / Texas 25 Views

Sonya’s Open House Party

By Arielle Johnson

Several months ago, we brought you news about a woman named, Nefrintina “Nicky” Hawkins who decided to turn one of the darkest moments in her life into a big, bright pitcher of lemonade.

Ms. Hawkins lost her big sister, Sonya to AIDS in 2003, but that was after her sister and best friend fought against the disease for 11 long years. It could have been the most devastating thing to happen to her in her lifetime, but eventually  she came to the realization that she had to get on with life, as well as educate and nurture others.

Nurturing others, not only meant dealing with women who were struggling with their lives being stigmatized by becoming members of a population of women who are HIV positive, but also being nurturers of family members who are facing all sorts of complex situations in attempting to be a support system to the family members of the victims. In so many words, being HIV positive, does not have to be a death sentence.

On a sunny day in June 2017, Nicky Hawkins opened up the doors to Sonya’s House, which is a Boarding House facility for women who are HIV positive. The home houses up to six women, and in addition to them have a clean and safe space to live in, they receive a number of other very important services in-house.

Sonya’s House Inc. provides meals, a laundry facility, financial literacy education, nutrition planning, counseling and medication compliance education. The idea behind the home is to provide up to six months of temporary housing, for the women to manage the responsibility of creating a stable home environment for themselves.

Stable and safe shelter is one of the most basic necessities in life, but also in many cases, the first thing women who are HIV positive lose, once they reveal to their status to family and friends.

Last month, Sonya’s House had an open house/house party. With the facility being very close to celebrating one-year of brightening the lives of the residents, and connecting them with people and resources which play a major role in keeping their lives healthy, the facility’s founder, Nicky Hawkins, decided to open its doors for one day.

This rare opportunity, which was months in the making, allowed members of the community and abroad to come by to get a feel for the space the women live in. To protect the privacy of the residents, prior arrangements were made for them to enjoy their Saturday away from the facility until the party ended and the space was cleared.

Ms. Hawkins definitely pulled out all the stops and covered all her bases to create the “House Party” feel during the early afternoon. As soon as you walked into the house, you could hear the base pumping from the sounds of an 11-year old DJ who goes by the name of DJ RGII (Roderick Green, II), in fact, when AANI arrived, the floor was packed with visitors who were shuffling across the room to the sounds of the must have house party jam, “The Cupid Shuffle.”

Those who were not engaged in the shuffle were either, holding heavy plates filled with dollops of all your favorite soul food dishes, courtesy of Mary Thompson. Ms. Thompson is the Sonya’s House personal cook who also doubles as Ms. Hawkins’ mom.

There was even a real blackjack dealer named Solomon, with a real Casino table and chips, who set up his table on the side of the room near the entrance with a warm smile that never faded.

The festive mood within Sonya’s House literally lasted for hours; however, just a few feet beyond the main living area, and directly outside of the kitchen area, there was a more somber mood.

This is where Nicky set up a special table and over to the right of it, was a door, which was the gateway to a moment of truth for anyone in attendance with the desire to know their status.

The table held a basket of condoms, informative brochures about HIV, red elastic bands with the red ribbon logo, symbolizing the need for awareness and prevention, in the fight against the disease and a book penned by Nicky which outlines her personal journey, during the final years of her sister’s life.

The room next to it provided free testing. Michael Patterson, a representative of Prism Health, was able to provide on the spot results by using the Insti HIV Test method.

Before leaving the Sonya’s House Party, AANI was able to pull Nicky Hawkins aside to ask her to give us the inside tea on future plans for the home and creating a more permanent bright spot in the lives of the women who have been fortunate to find housing in their transitional home setting.

“I want to start doing a gala every year for Christmas for Sonya’s House,” Nicky said. “I want to give individuals an opportunity to put on some clothes and be beautified, so they can mix and mingle with people from all walks of life.  Another one of my goals is to open up a multi-family unit.”

We are happy to say that just a few days after attending the House Party and interviewing Ms. Hawkins, she is a step closer to her goal of wanting to provide housing to families, as she is now able to provide housing to men, as well as women.

Many came and left that day, and some of it was even captured on a Facebook live post Nicky made at the beginning of the Open House.

Some of those in attendance were Councilman Tennell Atkins, Joseph Kemp, the first owner of a Sav-a-Lot store in Dallas, Mykeisha Bolin, a Banker with Legacy Texas, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Howell of the Chris Howell Foundation, Johnny Lewis of Legacy and many others.

Everyone has heard of the term, “It takes a village…” however, most of the time it is associated with children. Well…in the case of the Sonya’s House Open House/House Party, the phrase, at least the beginning of it, was appropriate for this setting. Visitors stopped by with monetary donations and suggested house supplies.

If you visit Youtube and type in “Sonya’s House Inc. House Party Teaser,” it should bring you to a brief video, which captures most of the highlights of the event. The video also provides details about how you may donate to the organization. The website address for the Sonya’s House is sonyashouseinc.org.

&

Reviews