My name is Tim Chaffee. I grew up in Binghamton and I’m now a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. My mother, Dr. Barbara Chaffee, whose life work, spanning over two decades, centered around helping HIV/AIDS patients in and around the Binghamton area, passed away in March 2013 after a long battle with breast cancer. She is greatly missed by her family, friends, co-workers and patients, but her legacy lives on in the many HIV/AIDS resources and programs she started in our community to help her patients have access to quality care, without fear of judgment.
It was one of her (many) goals to write a book chronicling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our area, as she felt it could be part of a larger political, sociological and philosophical conversation about healthcare in our country. She was committed to giving a voice to her patients, and providing them with the opportunity to achieve a quality of life that would enable them to live and love fully, as she herself did. And so to tell her story is to tell the story of the lives she touched through her work, and the patients for whom she cared, many over the span of decades. I would like to pick up where my mother left off, and tell the story in my medium: documentary film.
This documentary is about my mother and her tireless pursuit for justice for her patients, but as I’ve begun the arduous task of gathering interviews and as I’ve heard the stories of the people whose lives she fought so hard for, I’ve realized this documentary is part of a larger conversation about the people and the town she helped. The story of HIV/AIDS has been told largely in the context of New York and San Francisco, and other major urban areas. But I’m seeing through the work we’ve done so far, that HIV/AIDS in a small town paints a starkly different picture. It’s a story I think Binghamton and the rest of the world needs to hear.
I’m proud to say that Binghamton Family Care (now Binghamton Primary Care), my Mom’s former practice where she worked for over 20 years, continues to give care to HIV/AIDS patients even now after she’s gone. And The Southen Tier AIDS Program (STAP), a resource group for HIV/AIDS patients, just celebrated 30 years of social work and AIDS education in upstate NY and those two groups are just a couple of the many ways Binghamton has rallied around this epidemic, due in large part to the pioneering efforts of my Mom and her colleagues.
Please look through our website, to see how you can help make this documentary in progress a reality, and to learn more about the brave work of my Mom, Dr. Barbara Chaffee, and her cohorts, who all stepped up at a time when these patients needed them most.