TASHA HOLLAND-KORNEGAY: When I first thought about selling cotton candy to raise money for HIV awareness, I didn't think it would work. You take something so simple, sugar. A teaspoon of sugar, that's all we needed. It made a social impact.
I am a mental health therapist. And I'm also an HIV-STD community activist. When I started my HIV project, I was just trying to get local money from local community members. And all my grants were denied, denied, denied. I guess the stigma that's associated with it, people just really don't like to talk about it. I don't care how close you are with them, they just don't want you to know.
What stood out about Walden was Walden's mission's social change. I wanted to be part of that movement. At that point, I received another denial letter. So it became very frustrating. I didn't know that I needed to do something on my own. But my 14-year-old son saw it.
MALE SPEAKER: I hate seeing my mom struggle because I love her very much. I actually was like, how about you make your own money? How about you try to make cotton candy but, like, put a spin on it?
TASHA HOLLAND-KORNEGAY: And I said, cotton candy? He said, trust me. They're going to buy it. Being enrolled in a program at Walden, it gave me the strength to know all things are possible. This is possible! So I took a deep breath. And I said, here we go.
We booked our first event, and we sold out within hours. Right now, we've been up for about three years. And it's made such a big impact. People are talking about HIV, and they're not scared because we took a fun product and the sad epidemic. We put it together, and people were comfortable-- something just that simple.
And, to me, that's what social change is. You could just impact one person. And that one person that you impact, they're going to impact somebody. And it's just like a domino effect. Without my community members, without Walden, I wouldn't be who I am today. And I wouldn't be where I am today.