Friday, March 12, 2010

Ogunquit Activist Jimmy Lucibello Acknowledged for HIV/AIDS Work

MaineStreet, Five-O Shore Road to Hold Fundraisers in Lucibello’s Honor
By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
For years, Ogunquit’s Jimmy Lucibello has worked tirelessly as an advocate and educator for people that are HIV-positive or have AIDS. Most recently, he’s worked as a Men’s Health Outreach Specialist for York County for the Frannie Peabody Center. On March 27, Lucibello is being recognized for his efforts by the organization Equality Maine. They are awarding him the Cameron Duncan Award at their Annual Dinner in Portland that evening.
But that’s not the only event celebrating Lucibello that weekend. Rather, his friends in Ogunquit are staging two local events to acknowledge Lucibello’s work and to raise money for the cause he champions. On Friday, March 26 from 7 to 9 p.m., Norm Paquin, the owner of MaineStreet, where Lucibello also works, is having a cocktail party in his honor. The next morning, Five-O Shore Road is featuring Lucibello at its 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. brunch.
“A lot of people want to honor Jimmy at MaineStreet and Five-O that can’t attend the (Saturday evening) dinner,” Paquin said. “We will donate 50 percent of the bar sales to the Frannie Peabody Center.”
Jeff Porter of Five-O said the restaurant would donate a percentage of its sales from the brunch to the Peabody Center. He noted also that Five-O’s Donato Tramuto would donate $10 per brunch customer that day from his charitable foundation to the Peabody Center.
Lucibello has been working in the field since he was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1989. He moved to Ogunquit in 2000 and continued his outreach and advocacy in Southern Maine. “I became an advocate for the cause right away,” he said. “I do outreach and encourage people to use the free anonymous testing. I try to be a connection between the community and resources available for folks with HIV and AIDS. It has been my life’s mission.”
Lucibello is following the footsteps of the person for whom his award is named. “Cameron Duncan was an activist in the 1980s, who educated kids, health care professionals and others until his death at age 34,” said Dorian Cole, Equality Maine’s Communications Coordinator. “The award goes to someone that does the same kind of work. Jimmy was also a part of the No on One campaign (in the fall of 2009), on top of all the outreach he does every day.”
In addition to his work with the Peabody Center, Lucibello has also started a support group in Ogunquit, called Go Ogunquit. “It’s for men to have a safe haven place to gather outside of the bars and the Internet to discuss things and keep them safe,” he said. “The group is in its third year and has over 170 members. We meet Mondays with five to 25 people attending. It’s a great way to get the word out there.”
Paquin said it’s the body of Lucibello’s work that is being acknowledged. “They’re recognizing his work in HIV and AIDS,” Paquin said. “He also runs Go Ogunquit, a social networking group that talks about prevention. We’re thrilled he got the award.”
That sentiment is shared at the Peabody Center as well. “Jimmy is great,” said Peabody Center staff person Ed Corley. “He’s there working for us and he works 24/7.”
Lucibello said he appreciates the acknowledgement. “It’s overwhelming, pretty humbling,” he said. “I’m an average guy trying his hardest to be an advocate in the community and make people aware this virus isn’t gone. I want people to know there are places they can go. But I’m completely humbled by this. What they’re doing in Ogunquit is amazing.”
Indeed, Lucibello’s colleagues believe what he’s doing is amazing, and they’re hoping people turn out in force at MaineStreet and Five-O that weekend to let him know.
Photo caption: Ogunquit’s Jimmy Lucibello is this year’s recipient of Equality Maine’s Cameron Duncan award. (Courtesy photo)