NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- A New Haven organization that's been helping AIDS patients for more than a quarter of a century is the target of thieves.
Recent crimes are making it harder than ever for the AIDS Interfaith Network to provide its much needed services.
"It was right in that center, you see the circle? It was right here," Bonnye Cofield said to News 8's Keith Kountz.
A frustrated Cofield showed Kountz the place where a gazebo once stood outside of the AIDS Interfaith Network.
A couple of weeks ago, the gazebo and two air conditioning condensers were stolen in broad daylight.
"Anything people needed, my mom broke her neck to give them, and to come back and do this kind of stuff. I can't explain it," Cofield said.
Her mom is 88-year-old Elsie Cofield, the founder of AIDS Interfaith some 26 years ago.
On Thursday, she returned to the Chapel Street facility for the first time in several months and reminisced about the importance of the gazebo.
"We would come outside, we could have private meetings with clients, we could have prayer meetings with clients," she said. "We could just have lunch or sit or whatever we wanted to do. It was really wonderful."
Since the beginning, AIDS Interfaith has provided services like meals, psychiatric services and temporary housing for AIDS patients in desperate need.
This most recent theft is just the latest in a series of problems for AIDS Interfaith. Last winter, someone broke into the building and stole copper piping, which also resulted in serious flooding.
Bonnye, who is the organization's executive director, has no doubt it was an inside job.
"It had to be because the police told me it would have taken hours to take that much copper," she said. "Somebody who worked here had keys to have come in, had to be someone who knew the layout of the building, because it was taken from a place on the third floor that nobody would know."
AIDS Interfaith continues to operate, although it can help far fewer clients now than it did in the past.
But, despite all of the setbacks, Elsie keeps the faith that better days will come again.
"It's gonna be alright mom, whatever happens its going to be alright, it's gonna have to be," Bonnye said to her mother.
AIDS Interfaith is being assisted by sister agencies that are helping some of their former clients. However, because their funding comes primarily through grants and private donations, replacing the stolen items has proved to be a challenge.
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