MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -Drive on Ingleside Drive, glance behind the Econo Lodge and what you'll see is just another building that looks identical to a hotel. But what you are looking at, is anything but ordinary, and isn't a hotel at all.
What happens behind these walls, is nothing short of remarkable. This is the home for the Diversity House Project. A mission, to raise awareness and give support to those suffering from AIDS and HIV.
"The alternative for some of the folks here...is to live out on the streets," Executive Director Michael Leon explained.
The Diversity House Project is offering refuge, resources to get back on your feet, and a support network from others in the same type of situation in life.
With single occupancy rooms available through government funding, residents like Carol Cosgrove has been living in her room, for about a month.
"I just feel blessed that I have another chance. And these people have given me so much support to let me know that I'm not alone," Cosgrove said.
Cosgrove came here after spending a life using heroin to try to chase away and erase the thought that she is HIV positive. Although still in recovery, Cosgrove has been clean the entire time she has been staying here, has been attending her A.A. meetings, and has been an active member of daily and monthly chores around the complex.
The Diversity House Project also helps by rebuilding self-worth and dignity. Just ask Willie Norwood. He spent two years of his life here in recovery.
"I gained trust in people again, I gained trust in myself, belief in myself. They help you, they're genuinely concerned," Norwood said.
And it isn't something that has to be faced alone. Michael Leon, the executive director, is also HIV positive.
"It's not like they're dealing with somebody who doesn't know where they're coming from. I'm right there in the trenches with them," Leon said.
Leon added that a lack of education is likely the biggest concern he has about AIDS and HIV. It's his mission to raise awareness, and teach people that those with the disease, are no different from anyone else. He also noted that the scariest thing about AIDS and HIV, is most people who have either one, don't realize it.
For more information, go to rainbowcenter.us