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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Healing Hands of Jeffrey Grabelle

Jeffrey and Mr. P Jeffrey and Mr. P

Did you know that Jeffrey Grabelle’s gentle hands can heal your mind, body and spirit? This Chicago native resides in Mount Vernon just a few doors down from AIDS Action Baltimore (AAB), where he has worked as their office manager since 1989.

At ten, Jeffrey began his musical career studying the clarinet and cello. By 17, he discovered his passion for the viola da gamba, a bowed, fretted and stringed instrument, popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Surprisingly, Jeffrey did not receive his B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University in music, but in psychology.

In 1977, Jeffrey moved from Chicago to Washington, D.C., and then to Baltimore in 1978, enrolling in a two-year master’s program in counseling psychology at Loyola University. However from 1981 to 1983, Jeffrey studied early music at Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatorium. This time frame also marked the onset of the AIDS epidemic that compelled Jeffrey to return. “Back then,” Jeffrey recounted for Baltimore OUTloud, “They called AIDS the gay cancer.” He emphasized that “guides” or “spirits” led him to return. “I was meant to be here.”

Upon his return, Jeffrey wanted to do something to help people with HIV/AIDS and decided to participate in the Study to Help the AIDS Research Effort (SHARE) in 1984. Fortunately for him, he tested negative for HIV. “I have many memories,” Jeffrey acknowledged, “and we can’t forget the people who are not here.” Both AAB and Jeffrey will not forget Scott Stamford, who died from AIDS in the 1980s. The Scott Stamford Memorial Fund is one of the mainstays of AAB’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program, a fund that pays for emergency rent, utilities, and medical bills.

Before Lynda Dee incorporated AAB in 1987, Jeffrey reflected that she, Garey Lambert, and Pat Moran were at the forefront of Baltimore AIDS activism, raising funds for the now defunct Health Education Resource Organization (HERO). During the ensuing 29 years, Jeffrey has witnessed AAB’s evolution from a one-man office where he made clippings of AIDS resources for dissemination, to the empowering advocacy it is today.

Now Jeffrey’s healing hands are busily helping prepare life-saving grant proposals, working with men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals through PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) UP and Transpeople Empowerment in Action (Project TEA Time), and coordinating with other AIDS-related agencies and health organizations, such as the Center for Black Equality-Baltimore, the GLCCB, Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research, University of Maryland’s Star Track Adolescent Health Program, and Chase Brexton Health Care. Over the years, Jeffrey pointed out that AAB’s focus has remained steadfast: “AAB still provides services for people with HIV, and it helps prevent people from getting HIV.” He credits this faithfulness to founding board member and Executive Director Lynda Dee. “There is no one like Lynda Dee. She is a tireless advocate-activist for HIV treatment today. I admire her commitment.”

Unbeknown to many people, Jeffrey is a Reiki Master, practicing a Japanese form of alternative medicine. “Reiki is a form of non-invasive energy work,” he explained, “basically directing energy, like the laying on of hands without the religious affiliation. Touch is healing.” Additionally, for the past 13 years Jeffrey has worked as a licensed massage therapist, having attended the Holistic Massage Training Institute in Baltimore.

Jeffrey is a Renaissance man: intelligent, knowledgeable, and compassionate, appearing frequently as a guest artist with the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble and the Peabody Consort. Regardless of location, wherever Jeffrey’s gentle hands perform, he is focusing his positive energy in a holistic approach that heals body, mind, and spirit.

For more information about AAB’s services, contact Jeffrey at 410-837-2437 or Aidsactionbaltimore.org.

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