By Arielle Johnson
Nicky was devastated by the totally unexpected news when her sister told her she was H.I.V. positive. Everything was going great for Sonya. She was an early childhood teacher who never abused drugs. When Nicky found the courage in the same conversation, to ask how her sister contracted the disease, she was shocked and hurt to find out who the man was that infected her. The sister who she thought shared everything with her, had somehow managed to keep the intimacy of her relationship with this man, who she said she had no interest in, away from her.
Sonya battled the disease for 11 years and went through a rollercoaster range of emotions and sometimes had to be coaxed into taking the medicine capable of extending her life. When she left this earth, she left her sister with a wealth of knowledge she otherwise may not have gotten if she was not touched personally by the intrusion of H.I.V./AIDS in her sister’s life. If she was not there to support her sister, Sonya may have given up the fight against the disease a lot earlier.
Nefrintina “Nicky” Hawkins had a great career going before she decided to devote the majority of her time to providing transitional housing for women who are H.I.V. positive at a home she developed called, Sonya’s House. Prior to Sonya’s House, Nicky was a jet-setting medical field professional who was living her life to the fullest. But with the passing of her sister and occasional memories which popped up of her sister’s embarrassment and depression from having the disease, she had to heed the call of God and offer support to women who were experiencing the same. No matter how busy she was, she always found a way to get involved with events designed to support women with the disease, but a home meant more hands on, direct involvement.
Nicky’s sister passed away 14 years ago when people viewed a positive H.I.V. status as a death sentence. Sonya’s House has been a non-profit for the past year and a half, but did not open its doors until July 27, 2017.
Because Sonya’s House is a transitional home for homeless women who are H.I.V. positive, housing is only provided for 6 months. As of today, there are only 2 residents living in the home, but it has the capacity to house up to 6 women in the 3 bedroom, single family house. In addition to receiving 3 nutritious meals per day, the women also get education about their medications, encouragement to remain compliant with their medical regimen and education about how to manage their finances and obtain gainful employment to support themselves. Sonya’s House has a full support staff to make sure these women meet their goals and a number of volunteers who help as well. And like any happy home, there must be some fun scheduled in the mix of things, so Fridays have become game night/fun night.
When we asked Nicky to tell us her biggest Sonya’s House story, she reminded us they have only been open since July, but they can already claim success with keeping these women off of the streets and in a safe, nurturing environment.
Nicky Hawkins is the author of the recently release book entitled, “My Sister’s Story: Once is More Than Enough,” which is her personal story about how she found the courage to support her sister physically and spiritually, when she was losing the will to do for herself. In caring for her sister, Nicky realized there were women here in the Dallas, Texas area who could benefit from the support system she was able to provide to her sister.
For more information about Sonya’s House and to become a volunteer, just visit their website at sonyashouseinc.org. Also, you may reach them by phone at 682-777-5643.