A Chain of Inspiration
In 2007 artist Nancy Jacobs was diagnosed with an advanced case of chronic neurological Lyme disease. It is a condition that has severely limited her stamina, and thus her ability to paint, and has shadowed her life with pain. She credits the music of Annie Lennox with giving her strength to get through these very difficult years, so when she received an email from mothers2mothers (m2m) last winter auctioning off tickets to an Annie Lennox benefit concert in Los Angeles, she saw it as a sign. She bid on two tickets, won them, and several weeks later boarded a plane from Washington, DC to LA, with her husband, to see the woman who had inspired her to survive.
Nancy shared her experience with us:
I’d been acquainted with Annie’s blog and activism for years. Prior to that, I’d known little about the obstacles women in Africa were experiencing getting treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
As I learned more, I began to feel a kind of kinship with the women that m2m reaches every day. Even though they are miles away in Africa, they too must manage an incurable medical condition, HIV. It was a revelation to hear m2m’s Founder, Dr. Mitch Besser, explain that HIV is no longer a death sentence, but can be managed as a chronic illness. That hit home. I was so inspired by the work m2m is doing to help these mothers and their families stay healthy and thrive.
On her blog, Annie had often encouraged people to engage and act, but I would think, what can I do, especially with my own health condition to manage, and minimal energy? But more and more, I wanted to do something. Inspired by the concert, my husband and I met with m2m Co-founder Robin Smalley the next day. Asking questions and hearing Robin’s answers and her passionate commitment, I came away with the feeling that perhaps it was possible, that perhaps I could come up with an idea, some way to do a bit more.
Following the concert, Nancy returned home, inspired to find a way to do something to help m2m with what she knows best – art. Over the past six months, she has reached out to her network of artists and together they have assembled a collection of 36 art pieces donated by 32 artists who were inspired by Nancy’s own courage and commitment to help bring health and hope to HIV-positive mothers and babies. The art includes paintings, sculptures, and photography, and 100% of the proceeds will benefit m2m.
In Nancy, Robin Smalley recognised a kindred spirit. “Like our Mentor Mothers, Nancy is a woman who has turned pain and adversity into a desire to help others.” And that is something beautiful. Artwork from the 32 artists Nancy brought together was sold at the Silent Art Auction held on Thursday 24 September at Washington ArtWorks in Rockville, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C. All of the proceeds were donated to m2m. m2m Board Member John W. Franklin, Jr. spoke at the event, and presented Nancy with a certificate of appreciation and a framed photograph to thank her for dedicating so much of her time and energy to organising a wonderful evening and fundraiser.