We Can Be Heroes

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David Bowie sang that we can be heroes “just for one day,” but if he were writing about the volunteers profiled here he’d surely change the lyric to 365 days. From Rochester, New York, to Los Angeles, California, organizations depend on volunteers like these to keep services flowing from staff members to individual clients and the community at large. What strikes us about these profiles is that each one touches on the positive attitude of the organization’s volunteer—eagerness, compassion, gratitude, empathy, enthusiasm—as part of his or her contribution. Meals prepared can be counted, raffle tickets sold can be added up, hours to prepare for a fundraiser can be logged, but this emotional support is incalculable. We hope that A&U’s second annual tribute to the volunteers that the AIDS community depend on day in and day out is a gentle reminder of the spirit they keep alive, around the world, generation to generation.

Carmen Chic

In a word, Carmen Chic is busy.

Photo by Adam Bouska

The twenty-one-year-old AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) volunteer donates her time to the agency each weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.—the equivalent of a forty-hour work schedule—and then heads to her other full-time job, as a student at Los Angeles City College. Most days, she doesn’t turn in for the night until nearly 3:00 a.m.—but she’s always eager to begin her APLA shift the next morning.

Chic considers volunteering at APLA to be an integral part of her life. The experience offers both important professional and personal fulfillment. Chic says, “I’m really here for the clients—because I know the time I offer ultimately benefits those who depend on APLA.”

“Carmen’s dedication and commitment to APLA is exceptional,” says APLA volunteer resources program manager Jim Williams. “One day, she’s bagging groceries in our food pantries, and the next, she’s greeting guests at one of APLA’s signature special events. We simply couldn’t provide the level of care that APLA clients depend on without the support of volunteers like Carmen.”

In Carmen’s own words, “I am very grateful to have met APLA’s wonderful clients and staff, and it’s gratifying to see that people of all backgrounds can come together to fight AIDS and make an impact.”

Sam Brett

Photo by Kevin Einbinder

Sam Brett is one of the many volunteers at AIDS Care, the leading provider of HIV/AIDS services in Rochester and the Finger Lakes, who finds time in his busy schedule to give of himself. Sam has been an active volunteer since 2004 and has become a very important part of our team. To begin with, he is very active with our HIV testing program, where he assists with testing. Sam also volunteers weekly in our nutrition program, where he prepares and serves nutritionally balanced meals to many of our clients. His ability to speak three languages (Spanish, English, and American Sign Language) makes him an asset for providing culturally inclusive services to participants. Sam also serves on our board of directors, helping to steer the agency with the best interest of the community and clients in mind. This represents a small sampling of how much Sam gives to the clients at AIDS Care.”—Kevin Einbinder, marketing manager, AIDS Care

Team Red Pump

Photo by ChuckStr Photography

The ladies of Team Red Pump are an awesome group of women with diverse skills and interests. However, we all come together to do work around an issue we’re passionate about. As a relatively new organization (born in March 2009), we’re still lacking the funds to pay ourselves and do the work we want to do. So we choose the latter and work to raise awareness without monetary compensation. It exemplifies the ethos of The Red Pump Project because our passion comes first before all else. Team Red Pump is a dedicated group of women who believe that when HIV affects one of us, it affects us all. Team Red Pump includes Karyn Watkins, Luvvie Ajayi, Brittany Watkins, Renisha James, Aramide Esubi, Jenna Marie Christian, Denise Gilmore-McPherson, Tasasha Henderson, and Kenya Wafford.”—Luvvie Ajayi and Karyn Watkins, cofounders, The Red Pump Project

Carmine Martorilli

Although there are many wonderful caring people who volunteer their time, talents and love for SMART Ride (Southern Most AIDS/HIV Ride Twenty-Ten), there is one name that stands out. Recently we awarded Carmine Martorilli the SMART Ride Founders Award. Back in 1997 Carmine was involved in the Clear Channel Bike Rides and when approached about an idea to start a bike ride from Miami to Key West where 100 percent of the funds would be donated back to HIV/AIDS agencies, he jumped at the chance. Since then, he sits on the ride committee, can be found all over Fort Lauderdale telling people about SMART Ride, sells raffle tickets to win bikes to raise money, and much more.

Carmine’s involvement in supporting the HIV community is steadfast because at the age of seventy-five he has witnessed so much loss due to the disease. No matter what Carmine is involved in, he gives 100 percent of everything he has in order to make a difference in our world. His enthusiasm, courage, spirit and selfless nature are what so many of us aspire to have. He is truly a hero for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. And for all of those who say they don’t have time, can’t get involved, don’t know what they would do, just ask Carmine, because this seventy-five-year-old man makes all the difference in the community!”—David W. Spacht, Ride director, SMART Ride

Teresa Reed-Bowers, Erin Hart, Della Haugen & Greg Milward

Gratitude is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

Erin Hart (Photo Courtesy HIVictorious)

HIVictorious extends a wealth of gratitude to Teresa Reed-Bowers, Erin Hart, Della Haugen and Greg Milward, some of our awe-inspiring volunteers.

Thanks to their unwavering love and support, we are able to tackle our mission with a profound sense of confidence and pride.

Beyond the love and support they have bestowed upon HIVictorious, these heroes inspire others in their personal lives.

Left to right: Della Haugen, Teresa Reed-Bowers, Bob Bowers, Greg Milward, and Greg's partner Bruce (Photo Courtesy HIVictorious)

Each has carved a unique and personal niche in the fight against AIDS and walk the talk on a daily basis.

They epitomize courage, commitment, and compassion!”—Bob Bowers, founder and president, HIVictorious

Alice Wegley

Alice Wegley has been an incredible example of community service in the Tulsa area. For the past ten years, she has been an integral part of Tulsa CARES’ largest fundraiser: The Red Ribbon Gala. Organized and efficient, Alice requires no instruction or guidance and is quick to point out new and better ways of performing tasks.

D. Bruce Lewis (Tulsa CARES staff) and Alice Wegley take a break from working at Tulsa CARES’ Feast with Friends last July. (Photo by Ally McGinnis)
A former board member, Alice is always eager to volunteer for any of Tulsa CARES special events. Last year, she participated in the first Feast with Friends, where she created her own system in her subcommittee. She sets the bar high and always meets her goal: to keep everyone in check and busy!

Alice is an asset to Tulsa CARES, and when it comes to special events the staff can rest easy knowing she will make the event a huge success by lending her past experience coupled with her passion for the cause.”—Ally McGinnis, resource development coordinator, Tulsa CARES

December 2010