By Greg Hernandez
The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Derald Hunter used the words “super dope” to sum up his feelings about being recognized by the City of West Hollywood on World AIDS Day for his HIV outreach work.
“It’s a privilege to be able to do the work we do and to be able to say we are dedicating our lives to helping in a way that serves more than just us as individuals,” Hunter said while accepting the 21st annual Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Award during a virtual ceremony on December 1.
Hunter is a Health Services program coordinator for the Center’s WeHo Life program which provides safer sex kits and HIV prevention information to West Hollywood community members and businesses.
West Hollywood Human Resources Commission Chair Barbara Meltzer cited Hunter’s “devotion and dedication to educating and helping others” while presenting him with the award.
“His dedication to HIV prevention is evidenced by the safe and empowering environment he creates for clients to open up and discuss their concerns,” Meltzer said.
Hunter was one of seven recipients this year to receive the Warrior Award, which are given annually to outstanding employees and volunteers of organizations that provide HIV prevention and care services to the community.
“All of you are incredibly deserving of this recognition,” City of West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister told the honorees. “Your dedication is inspiring and your impact cannot be underestimated. We know you are often unsung heroes and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to publicly recognize your contributions.”
The other 2021 honorees were Darrin Aiken of APLA Health, Jamie Baker of Being Alive, Triana Maldonado of Friends Community Center, Anil Patel of Alliance for Housing and Healing, William Alexis Rogel of The C.I.T.Y. x1 Youth Group, and Desiree Jade Sol of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“I’m honored to stand beside so many amazing human beings who are here tonight,” Hunter said. “We are all special, the work that we do is very special and it means so much. I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Hunter paid tribute to award namesake Starke “who left a great legacy behind.” Starke died in 2001 and was a former member of the West Hollywood HIV and Substance Use Services Providers Consortium and an employee of the HIV/AIDS organization Being Alive.
The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at www.youtube.com/wehotv