on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

In Kelly’s Own Words

The following blog was written by Kelly Ross-Davis, Director of Education at The 1917 Clinic.   Kelly and Malcolm have worked together for 14 of his 15 years at The 1917 Clinic.

Kelly Ross-DavisThe last week of your 15+ years at The 1917 Clinic is here. Of course, everyone at the 1917 Clinic wishes you the very best on your next journey down the street at the Hospital. We know that those who will have the opportunity to work with you in the future are fortunate more than they can know now. We know that hospital patients and community members will benefit from your compassionate approach and innovative solutions.  We know all this because we have already received the gifts from you at the 1917 Clinic.

As the first AIDS Chaplain at a university hospital, you offered emotional support initially to people who were dying and then to people who were living. To widen the reach, you taught members of the faith community how to respond with love and compassion to people with HIV disease.  During the 12 year history of volunteer Care/Support Teams, you probably taught (or trained others to teach) over 100,000 people how to deal with grief and loss.  One method you used was to cut up little pieces of paper (16 to be exact) and to experience a very personal exercise of understanding loss.

You emphasized three main points.

1. “Help a person feel what they are feeling as they feel it. Ask an extra question for clarification of that feeling. Be quiet. Listen. Don’t try to fix.” How many times have you demonstrated this to me personally as I went through marriage, childbirth, divorce, parenting and professional challenges – you have been there through the joys and the hardships, nurturing without judging.

2. “Walk at the same pace emotionally as the person you are supporting. Resist the temptation to fix or speed up the process of change. Remember to walk beside not drag a person to a different place.” Malcolm, I can remember you having to live up to this test when your father was ill. He wanted to go out to eat and took forever to get from the car to the front door of the restaurant. Your father still had much to offer and stopped to talk with everyone and needed to move slowly on his path. Getting to the dinner table was not his only objective. Learning to see life from his perspective made you an even more caring son.

3. “Take on the role of student, and allow someone else to teach you.” We work with amazingly intelligent and insightful people at the 1917 Clinic, but the lessons learned from our Care Team Friends, Heartsong participants, and all the other patients of the clinic are deep. Lessons of struggle, endurance, acceptance, hope and love.

Malcolm, I remember the day I met you at an AIDS Volunteer Training event at Cathedral Church of the Advent.  Within ten minutes, I said to myself, “I want to work with this man.” The first day I came to work as an AmeriCorps member you played a song (not on youtube but on a cassette tape) that Harry had written and performed. I cried that first day and am so thankful for all the tears and the laughter we have shared over the past 14 years.

Many training events later (and after some deep soul searching), you met and married the wonderful Mary Sullivan and gained two delightful stepchildren, Kiki and Brendan. Thankfully, you all opted to relocate from North Carolina to Alabama, and the clinic got to keep you too. More patients than ever before got connected to holistic medial care through you.

We all wish you the best. I encourage everyone to share any lessons Malcolm has taught you personally, other meaningful stories, or positive wishes for the future.  We want his blog to be full and rich, along with his future.

Kelly Ross-Davis,

1917 Clinic Colleague, Friend


  1. Mary

    Dear, dear, dear,DEAR Kelly…I know that losing you as his “across the hall” buddy is going to be pretty tough for Malcolm. You are a GREAT friend!! Love, Mary

  2. Inas Mahdi

    Oh, Malcolm the great teacher….

    I know that all that you have touched at 1917 will forever remember the kindness and empathy that you have always shared. I too like Kelly remember one of your great lessons ( walk the same emotional pace) and I still try to practice today. Learning that lesson was one of your greatest gifts to me. I’m glad to hear that you will continue to spread your loving message and blissful sprit with others. I’m certain that your many gifts will still float through the halls of 1917 and in the hearts of those you touched.

    Love and Infinite Blessings!

  3. Kerry Upton

    Malcolm, I have truly enjoyed working with you. It will not be the same without you around here, but we know you are not far away. I wish you the best of luck with your new responsibilites.

  4. Jenna White


    I am so thankful for your smiley “Good Mornings” and for your “extra hugs”!!! You’ve been such a blessing to work with. I wish you all the best on your new journey! It definitely will not be the same without you!

  5. Simon


    Needless to say, I wish you well in your new venture and I know you will offer the same great gifts you have provided to so many of us through the 1917 clinic.

    You will always be in my heart.

    Love to you, my great friend.


  6. Hala Fawal

    Dear Malcolm,

    You have certainly been there for me on many occasions and I am deeply appreciative. Don’t be surprised if I come track you down at the Hospital.

    All the Best!

  7. Stephen Hunt, RN, MSN

    It will not be the same without you here at the clinic. I know that with your love and compassion for people, patients and their loved ones, you will be tremendously successful in your new role at UAB Hospital. Every patient and staff member here at the clinic will certainly think of you often and I ask that God bless your efforts in working closely with all those fortunate to be around you!!

  8. Alan Woellhart

    Malcolm,What can I really say that would or could say that would tell you completely and express what you mean and have done for me all these years.You married Manny and me,and gave the sermon at his funeral.You have walked with us through countless Heart Songs.You have encouraged us to laugh,and dried our tears.There are many “God” moments where I felt his touch and you were in the midst of them.Friend does not decribe you,family is closer to it,but even it doesn’t give the full meaning.LOve I guess would be the closest of what you have meant to me and countless others even during the dark times.Please know that we go with you and you with us always.

  9. Donna Porter, CFAR

    Good luck and best wishes on your new position. Even though we haven’t known each other long, it has been great working with you and always being blessed by your positive outlook and pleasant demeanor. Someone will fill your post, but they will never “fill” your shoes at the clinic. You will be missed.

  10. Charles Wright

    I love you man, and i will miss you and the feelings of comfort and confidence you inspire when you are around. Good luck and God’s Blessings.

  11. Deon Powell


    I will miss you very much. It has been a pleasure working with you. You are always smiling and always have a kind word to say. Remember, I am only a phone call or an email away. Therefore,I will not say “goodbye”, but rather “talk to ya later”:)

  12. wes akins


    It has been a wonderful journey thus far…laughs,tears,ups,downs, more laughs. I am a better Social Worker and person from knowing you. Thank-you. We will continue to strive to reach the high tone of compassion( one of your trademarks) that you have set in dealing with clients, colleagues and the world.In alot of ways we have “grown up” together…..
    Children,partners,beginnings,endings…ahh life!!! Choices, thanks to God we have them. I am so proud of you for trying new things, that is how we grow…Come join us for lunch anytime you need some good laughs. You will be missed!
    Peace, love and happiness,

  13. Amy Player


    It is obvious you will be missed by so many for so many reasons. Here are mine…

    First of all, I appreciate you for your compassion and kindness to everyone. You can even hear it in your gentle voice in your overhead pages! I have always admired that and know that our patients needed it as they face so much in this life.

    Second of all, I appreciate you for your creativeness. You always are thinking of better ways to accomplish routine things. The phone tree, new patient orientations, you tackle projects with ease!

    Thirdly, I appreciate you for your tech savvy! You have helped me (and I ‘m sure others) with power point and cell phone issues! 🙂

    How gifted and blessed you are! I know God will continue to use you in your new role.

    We will feel your loss but know you won’t be far. Our prayers are with you during this transition.

    Love, Amy

  14. Jan Fuller

    Dear Malcolm….you have the sweetest, most gentle soul. Thank you for all the times you listened over the years. You have given so much to so many, what a gift! UAB Hospital has no idea the treasure they have received by getting you. I wish you the best and look forward to hearing about this new phase of life you are entering!

    Love, Jan

  15. Jeff Thomas

    I remember the first time I met you was at the Church of the Advent for a BAO volunteer training session. You seemed to have a glow, an aura around you as you spoke about the people you work with and a sincere interest in making those dealing with HIV/AIDS life a little more bearable. As I got to know you through the clinic and Heartsong I saw even more depth to your soul. Over the past couple of years when “trying out” different programs, and I would be the only one to show up I have known that it was God’s special gift that we had some one on one time. You have touched so many lives and will continue to spread the light of love everywhere you go. May God bless you, your family, and all those to whom you bring peace in their time of trial. Peace be with you my friend.


  16. Sandra Langston

    Kelly –

    Ive already written a brief note to Malcolm, but wanted you to thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding us that you and Malcolm are both very special to all of us. I, too, remember the first time I met Malcolm and must admit that I did so with skepticism regarding a Southern Baptist minister’s ability to serve as an AIDS chaplain. I know that was very judgmental of me, but it took only a few moments of listening to him, seeing his sincerity, his unconditional love and his sense of humor to erase any doubt in my mind. In the years since, I have never been disappointed – he has given all who knew him a great example of Christianity. I know that you will miss seeing him in your daily work, but he will be sharing that example with thousands more who will benefit. My best to both of you.


  17. Paige

    Change = Growth. Malcolm, take this recipe and continue to pass forward the wonderful spirit that you have touched so many individuals with. You have often been there to meet the needs of so many patients as well as staff members. The things you have done often amaze and impress me and make me wonder – how does he do it???? I wish you well in the next phase of your new career. Take what you have gained and continue to nourish the souls of those who await and need your care. And please – don’t forget all of us at 1917…….come back and visit……
    Wishing Well Always,
    Paige Ingle Pang

  18. Brenda Cummings

    Thank you so much for being a friend to the AIDS Division especially the Alabama AIDS Symposium. Throughout the history of the symposium your messages of healing, hope and love closed so many of the conferences and left the audience members feeling that “yes” all of our work in the field of AIDS was worth it, even in the beginning whent a lot of patients died within 2 years. You may not know this but you were requested year after year by the audience surveys and our staff. Thank You

    Finally, thank you for being my friend. I remember your support when I truly needed to go on a silent retreat. Thank you again for listening and a great recommendation. Love Always, Brenda

  19. Judy Collins

    Malcolm, I have only been here 7 months at the 1917 and it has always been a pleasure to see you and the smile on your face. You will be truly missed. God always has a bigger and better job for thoes of us who walk with Him. So change is good. Judy

  20. Scott Batey


    I count knowing you among one of the many blessings in my life! Working with you at the 1917 Clinic only confirmed for me how very special you are.

    You will be greatly missed, but I am thrilled for the whole new population of people who will be touched by your kindness, genuineness, and wisdom!

    Thank you for being my only Clemson friend (!) and I wish you the very best in your new endeavors.

  21. Anna


    It has been a pleasure working with you the past two years. You and everyone in the clinic made feel welcome on my first day.

    I wish you all the best in your new position and since you are just down the street, come by and say hello.


  22. Crystal


    Your presence and positive attitude will definately be missed. It has truly been a blessing to know you and I wish you the best of luck. Thanks for all you have done to make this a special place to work!

  23. Kathy

    Malcolm, You have been so much to so many. Your fingerprint at the clinic and in many lives will forever be present. Your compassion and love for people is so evident in all that you do. You have taught me many things.

    My favorite things that you have taught me: 1) Take an extra moment to connect with others, this is what really matters and makes whatever task is at hand so much more enjoyable 2) Be present in the moment. 3) You don’t have to have everything figured out before you start. Sometimes you just have to start and you will figure it out as you go. 4) Take the time to appreciate others out loud.

    Thanks so much for all of your support and encouragement! While I am sad for me, I am truly happy for you and know that there are exciting things to come. Enjoy!

  24. Jamie McKinnell

    Malcolm ….. You are a great asset to this clinic. I greatly appreciate everything you did for me in my short Alabama sojourn.

  25. Angel Henson


    I remember my first day at the clinic when you stopped by to introduce yourself. I could instantly sense that you were someone very special. You are and continue to be one of the most amazing people that I have had the privilege to know. We have shared many laughs, a few tears and some very good natured, verbal sparring. You walked with me on a painful journey so gently and compassionately when I lost someone I dearly loved. You are a wonderful mixture of strength and sensitivity. You have pursued your dreams and lived them with passion and commitment. You have inspired me to do more, to be more and I thank for that. May you find all of the happiness and fulfillment as you begin this new chapter in your life. You will be dearly missed.

  26. M Saag

    In a word, Malcolm, you are a Mensch.
    I am very grateful for all you have done for the patients, staff, and community of the 1917 CLinic for over 15 years.
    The adage goes: “everyone is replaceable”.
    In your case, it is false.
    I am very proud of you and what you have done. And I am proud of what you are about to do for University Hospital.
    All of us know what you are about to contribute to them…and I know they will be just as appreciative of your efforts as we have been.
    God’s speed!

  27. Katie Bar

    Dear Malcolm,
    It has been such a pleasure to get to know you and work with you these past few years. Thank you for all you have done and all the best on your new adventure.

  28. Karen Savage

    Dear Malcolm,
    You are one of a kind. I will truly miss seeing you at clinic but I know you will be a great addition to the hospital. Your warmth, caring and compassion for others is heartwarming and inspiring. Not only are you there for the 1917 patients, you have been there for me personally on more than one occassion (when I was worried about my family post-Katrina and with the loss of my dad). You are such a caring and selfless person. Thanks for being you. Take care and God Bless!

    See you at the Lake!!


  29. Becky Creamer

    Malcolm it has been fun working with you. I’m going to miss you on Friday lunch conference. You added a different spin by using your power point presentation. I really liked the introduction of new employees by interviewing them and sharing their history and the neat maps of where they went to school and stuff like that! Although I know you will be just down the street I want you to know that you may stop by my office anytime if you ever need you vitamin M’s, thanks so much for contributing to supply.

    Good luck with you new job!
    Becky Creamer

  30. Tamara

    Dear Malcolm,
    I have told you hundreds of times how much you will be missed. Yesterday I was having a bad day and you came in my office with your bright smile and charm and everything that was bothering me flew out the window.(Well i guess the door since I dont have any windows.)So I would just like to say thank you so much for being such a good friend and congrats on your new job. Now I am crying….thanks alot Malcolm. LOL

  31. Suneetha

    I will truly miss you (especially in the morning). It has been a pleasure working with you the past one year.
    I wish you all the best.

  32. Sonya Heath

    Malcolm…I wish you all the best on your next adventure. I will certainly see you in the hospital so I will not say good bye. I do want to say thank you. Thank you for all that you have done for the staff, the clinic, and mostly for our patients. Being able to offer your services when we didn’t have the time or the right words to help a patient has always been an amazing service. You have dedicated so much to this clinic and you will be missed…but not forgotten.

  33. Faye Howard


    Although I haven’t known you nearly as long as some others, I am equally as saddened to see you go. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with you. As my internship supervisor, you were always so patient and willing to teach and let me learn new things. The wonderful mark your spirit has left on the patients and staff of the 1917 Clinic is quite evident in the numerous comments and well wishes posted on this page. I wish you nothing but happiness and success as you venture into this new chapter of your life. Thanks for all that you do for others and have done for me. I quite literally wouldn’t be sitting here in my office right now if it were not for you. Best wishes.

  34. Craig Hoesley


    You have been a tremendous asset to our clinic and will be sorely missed. I know you will continue to serve the UAB community well in your new position. Thanks for all you have done and will continue to do. Best wishes!


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