New Jersey lost a hero recently.

Dr. Terry Zealand, of Howell, NJ, along with his wife Faye, made a huge impact assisting children and families affected by AIDS.

It all started in 1985 when Terry and Faye formed The AIDS Resource Foundation, which was started as a result of the couple learning about the plight of a 2-year-old orphan with HIV/AIDS living in the hospital.

After the caring couple made some serious inquiries and gathered information from pediatric doctors and professionals familiar with pediatric AIDS, it was determined that a transitional care facility would help those children and families who were in nearby Newark hospitals.

Terry and Faye Zealand, with the help of an advisory board and some donations, were able to secure a one-family brick home in Elizabeth. The new home, named St. Clare’s Home for Children, opened its doors in 1987. Faye and Terry welcomed a 2-month-old with HIV as their first admittance. Soon after more children arrived and this marked the first transitional care facility in the United States that catered to HIV/AIDS.

The need for bigger space and more programs put Faye and Terry on a mission and expand they did: a bigger home in Newark, a satellite home in Neptune, a firehouse in Newark for after-school activities and events providing a safe place for kids to go after school.

They implemented many programs, opened their doors to hundreds of children and families that were affected by HIV/AIDS. Zealand’s experience and knowledge reached global attention when in 1988 Dr. Terry was asked to address a special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the topic of worldwide implications of AIDS.

I met Dr. Terry and Faye in the early '90s when my friend and musician Pat Guadagno introduced me to the couple. I was blown away by the work that they had accomplished, the need for more resources and the direction that they wanted to take to help those in need. My initial meeting was emotional as I was astounded by the compassion and complete devotion they have made to their mission. We would do a charity concert or event for them, purchase toys at Christmas and tried to give them what we could.

The AIDS Resource Foundation continues with Faye overseeing a wonderful Board of Trustees and the many directors and volunteers that believe in the same goal.

If we all just took a page out of Faye and Dr. Terry’s book this would be such a better place to live.

I will miss Terry and his smile and great attitude but mostly his compassion and devotion to the children and families with AIDS. RIP Dr. Terry Zealand, a man who made a big difference here in New Jersey and beyond.

You can help the AIDS Resource Foundation by clicking this link: aidsresource.org

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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