ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Damien Center in Albany, which provides critical housing and services to thousands of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, unveiled a new garden project to provide lasting access to healthy produce for their members.

The new space is a part of Capital Roots Community Garden, and was made possible by a partnership with Leadership Tech Valley. The Damien Center Expressed gratitude to the Capital Region Chamber’s LTV class of 2021 at a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday for choosing them as their project, especially during a year that marks a significant turning point in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Dan O’Connell, a member of the Damien Center Board of Directors said, “a month from now we are going to be commemorating the 40th anniversary of what turned out to be the identification of the very first cases of HIV and AIDS in the United States. 40 years. So, we’re dealing with one pandemic in terms of COVID, but the HIV epidemic has been going on now for four decades, and that’s why the Damien Center is here.”

In addition to the produce garden, the project also includes a reflection area and flower garden for members to mourn loved ones lost to HIV/AIDS.