Rites of Passage

*This is a partial record of the work I did for nearly 30 years. At this time I am sill offering the workshops and all of our films continue to be available.

cp  January 26, 2017

I founded RITES OF PASSAGE [which was originally called AIDS Care and Assistance] in January of 1988. Since then we have produced 20 documentary films, many of them award winners; 3 traveling photo/oral history exhibits; provided home care for numerous terminally ill patients and given presentations throughout the US and Canada.

*Some of our work is represented in the excerpt below. . You can read more at RITES OF PASSAGE JOURNEY or THE 8TH FIRE.


“They were the worst of times, they were the best of times”

-Charles Dickens

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118699933&#8243;

aids article:mary

File_01 mimi quilt

The AIDS Quilt

We never really tried to be a home heath agency though we had a license. Rather we provided friendship, cooking, cleaning, and transportation to the doctor, the hospital etc. Most of our patients then were young, male and gay and many were professional people who suddenly found themselves with nothing….dying.. alone. The movie, Philidelphia pretty much exactly expresses what those times were like.

File_01 joe:aids

We were providing home care for several of these patients and then one day something happened which would dramatically change our mission.

We were asked to provide care for a family with AIDS and were once again reminded that the greatest teachers and the angels often come in the most unexpected forms.

angel picture reborn:border

File_01 jason's wings copy

The last photo of Jason Briggs taken the night before he died of AIDS. His parents did not see this photo until after his funeral and were immensely comforted when they saw the small wings which had appeared on his back.


“………For if I were on Earth no more, and happened up on Heaven’s door, I’d see an angel dressed in white, my son to greet me..a beautiful sight…”

File_01 gerriFile_01 jason light

Fi angel poem sah

Jim and Gerri Briggs were 24 and 22 years old and their son Jason was six months. A poster book family, Gerri was Hispanic, dark haired and beautiful, Jim was blond, friendly and outgoing. Both had been honor students in high school. Their baby Jason was also beautiful: chubby and wise beyond his years. Never able to really speak, he communicated everything with his large, brown eyes. An old wise soul.

File jason aids amb

The Briggs family had no money-AIDS took everything they had. We had no money either but somehow, with the help of devoted and dedicated caregivers we provided care for Jason until his death at the age of 2.

Jim and Gerri wanted to make a short film about their experience, something that would help others. My son, Andy was then majoring in Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas and so we were able to make the film they wanted.

Jason-the way they live today simply put, is a short film about living with AIDS, about being 22 and 24 years old, watching your baby die and knowing that you also are destined to die…of AIDS. More than that however, it is a story about courage, about appreciation and making the most of each day.

File_01 jim and jason

Jim and Jason Briggs “Making the most of every day”

At that time, I had a small grant to educate community and church groups about AIDS as there was a lot of ignorance, judgment and prejudice. I remember showing ‘Jason’ to an adult Sunday school class at an Episcopal church in Austin. This group was made up of well off, people from the upper class who would likely never have to encounter AIDS in any form. I remember watching the audience change as they watched the film: from standoffish and judging to compassion and understanding, to actually [some of them] wanting to helpFile_01 bw jason loking

Because of Jason-the way they live today , I discovered the tremendous power of film to reach an audience on a very deep level, the power to create change, to inspire, to bring people together.

ahhpm audience


File_01 army chaplains

Presentation for Army Chaplain Ft Sam Houston San Antonio, TX

File_ article grand rap

Presentation for Hospices Grand Rapids, Michigan

And from that time on, our mission became education-we could reach a much larger audience through the visual arts and to date, we, my son Andy Pickard and I  have produced about 20 documentary films, many of them award winning, as well as 3 photo/oral history exhibits: on AIDS, on Aging and on Loss and Grief.




Presentation at Our Lady of Lourdes West Islip, NY

Between Now and Forever 041

Presentation for Hospice Association Little Rock, Arkansas

File_02 memorials madis

Memorial table Grand Rapids Michigan

File_01 madison:exhibit

Presentation for University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing

baby f memorial

Memorial made by participant at ADEC presentation San Antonio, TX

File_01 memorial-daddy

File_01 matthew:parish

MATTHEW ROGAN, age 10 ….His father, Matt Rogan was one of the firemen who died on 9/11 “We would go clamming together and it was just like a bond of our hands grabbing each other and staying together and every time we’d go clamming, we’d talk about everything, everything in the world and we’d take my dog, Sam for a walk- he was my boy and every day he waits for my dad to come home..

matthew for sah copy 2


File_01 matt's quotelourdes-memorial

Our current project is a documentary on the US Prison System which is desperately in need of reform..here’s the preview of THE LIGHT IN THE SHADOW


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