MODESTO “TICO” VALLE

INDIVIDUAL | Inducted 1998

He founded the Chicago NAMES Project in 1989. While on the NAMES national board, he helped to take the 1996 display of the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt to Washington, D.C., and to create a national high school Quilt curriculum. He has volunteered and led in other AIDS groups, was Open Hand Chicago’s first Volunteer Services Director, and served on the Horizons Community Services board.

In 1989, Modesto Valle helped to rally a group of activist volunteers to bring the first Midwest display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Navy Pier. In that display and out of it, the private mourning of individuals and a community found public voice in the silent, eloquent testimony of the Quilt, saying to Chicago, “AIDS is a plague at the heart of all people in this city, state, and nation. Never forget to care.”

Chicagoans—young and old, gay and non-gay, of all ethnicities—came and saw, many for the first time, that the face of AIDS is every man, every woman.

Valle, known throughout the community as Tico, founded the Chicago NAMES Project, which over the 10 years of his leadership has grown into one of the largest and most active contributors of Quilt panels in the United States. Through grief counseling and Quilt panel sewing bees, the chapter has assured friends, families, and lovers that they are not alone in grief or memories. Mercurial, organized, able, and often bossy, with his whole person Valle met the AIDS epidemic and became involved in service to persons living with AIDS and their families.

At the national level and as a board member of the NAMES Project Foundation, Valle helped to organize the 1996 display of the entire Quilt in Washington, D.C., and he contributed to development of a National High School Quilt Curriculum now in use in youth prevention programs in Chicago and across the United States. Through his efforts to mobilize volunteers and constantly to expand the circle of caring and remembrance among all sectors of Chicago, Valle has kept the Quilt in schools, public spaces, and the hearts of Chicagoans and other Americans.

This autumn, for World AIDS Day on December 1, Valle and over 5,000 NAMES Project volunteers, with the support of a broad consortium of corporate funders, will install the Quilt for a second time on Navy Pier for the largest indoor Quilt display ever.

Broad vision, compassion, activism, stubborn determination, service, logistical acumen, and love of friends, family, and community define Modesto Valle.

He has volunteered for Chicago House, Test Positive Aware Network, and Open Hand Chicago from the earliest days of the epidemic. He has served as Open Hand Chicago’s first Volunteer Services Director, connecting food for people living with AIDS and the willing hands to deliver it.

His commitment to youth empowerment is exemplified through professional work to establish scholarship subsidies for minority youth at Holy Trinity High School, where he is currently associate director of development. He serves on several boards and recently was nominated to the AIDS Living Remembrance Project’s advisory board.

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