Do Something!

Poet, writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.” His wisdom resonates in this day and age, when we often become so overwhelmed by the state of the world that we freeze in our tracks. We want to do everything but end up doing nothing. Volunteering provides us a chance to take action on a small scale with big results. Across AIDS-related services, whether packing groceries in a food pantry or providing emotional support, volunteers are essential to improving the lives of individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families. As part of a team, volunteers soon learn that no one is expected to do everything. Hopefully, they also learn that doing something means everything.

Shanti Volunteers

(Left to right) Gail Hoyer, Rex Himes, Frederick Bindel, and Beda Herbison, shown here with Program Director Robert Lux

“Rosehedge/Multifaith Works considers it a blessing to have a number of dedicated, long-term Shanti volunteers who provide confidential, one-to-one emotional support to inmates at Western Washington State prisons. Fulfilling our mission to provide compassionate, confidential support to populations that are isolated and stigmatized, these four Inmate Support Project volunteers have contributed a total of sixty-two years of service to the Shanti Program.”
—Rosehedge/Multifaith Works

Rosehedge/Multifaith Works unites communities of compassionate care with people living in isolation and loneliness. The Seattle-based non-profit provides housing, healthcare, and supportive services that enhance the quality of the lives of some of its most vulnerable neighbors with HIV/AIDS. For more information log on to www.rosehedge.org.

Kamaria (Kam) Gammon

“RCP’s tremendous growth has been largely due to Kamaria (Kam) Gammon. Kam is the Chapter Coordinator for Campus RCP (a student-run division of RCP) who models everything a great volunteer should. Since joining in 2008, Kam has helped Campus RCP expand from two to ten college campuses throughout the state of Florida. Kam communicates with students and conducts weekly conference calls to mentor, listen, and encourage young advocates on a mission. Kam embodies hard work, dedication, and selflessness, spending tireless hours developing ideas, sharing information, and troubleshooting. Without her involvement, I don’t know where we would be.”—Donovan Thomas, founder of RCP

Launched in South Florida, RCP (Respect, Check, Protect Yourself) was started by a few individuals wanting to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. With campus chapters nationwide, RCP seeks to reduce the spread of HIV by promoting and encouraging safer sex, periodic screenings, and exploring the benefits of abstinence. For more information, log on to www.rcpmovement.org.

Greg Barbutti

“Greg Barbutti exemplifies the spirit of the Hill Country Ride for AIDS by not just surviving with his HIV, but thriving through service. Very sick fifteen years ago, Greg chose to volunteer instead of giving up. Greg has been at the center of planning for all thirteen years of the Hill Country Ride, and is a central factor in the great success the Ride enjoys. He is the perfect mix of practical know-how and a heart full of compassion. He is beloved by all the riders and crew, and is often called ‘the heart of the Ride.’ We are proud and honored to spotlight him for this feature. He is a true hero!”—David C. Smith, executive director, Hill Country Ride for AIDS

Over more than a decade, the Central Texas ride has raised over $4.5 million for lifesaving care and services. For more information, log on to www.hillcountryride.org.

Carolyn Leigh

“Carolyn Leigh, a licensed acupuncturist, is an exemplary volunteer who supervises three to four Interns in our Acupuncture Clinic at Being Alive in West Hollywood.

“She has developed a unique program in which members receive ten consecutive weeks of acupuncture treatment. This is generally the minimal amount of time an individual needs to address HIV-related complications. In addition, it provides the Interns the ability to track a patient’s progress and is an effective learning tool. Often, when there is either a scheduling conflict or the member needs more than one treatment per week, Carolyn will see them at her private office at no charge to the member. This goes beyond the scope of what most providers would do; however, Carolyn’s compassion and dedication is most often more important to her than the paycheck. With her additional vast knowledge of Chinese medicine, energy healing, and astrology, she makes herself available to consult with any member at any time. She also takes the time to get to know many of our Being Alive members personally.

“Carolyn shows incredible compassion and generosity of spirit in everything she does. She is without a doubt worthy of recognition in your publication’s volunteer feature.” —Daniel Robison, Programs Manager, Being Alive

Los Angeles-based Being Alive, now in its twenty-fifth year, provides support services to people newly diagnosed and living with HIV/AIDS. For more information, log on to www.beingalivela.org.

Food Pantry Staff

Michael Cox, Helen Hopkins, and Mark Dragisity. Photo by Daniel Pearce

“An intricate part of Project Response and other ASOs is not only case management but also nutrition as well. Our goal: to help keep our clients healthy and well fed by offering food bags to clients in need. Our food pantry prepares over 160 food orders per month, with an all volunteer staff. Special thanks to Helen Hopkins, our senior volunteer with over eighteen years of service, Michael Cox, who oversees food drives, pickups and stocking, along with Mark Dragisity and the rest of the staff who donated their time, because without their dedication, we could not achieve our goal!”—Daniel Pearce, vice president of Project Response

Project Response is dedicated to providing quality case management services, prevention education, and HIV testing to communities on Florida’s Space and Treasure coasts. For more information, log on to www.projectresponse.org.

Paul Groneck

Paul and Buster

“In 1987, Paul Groneck was witnessing his friends dying of AIDS. As a result, Paul began volunteering with Caracole, where he helped furnish and prepare the first house in Ohio to provide housing and supportive services for those living with HIV/AIDS. Caracole House was where homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS could get off the streets and die with dignity.

“Twenty-four years later, Paul is still an active volunteer today. Paul has helped raise over $30,000 for Caracole programs and has donated countless hours of time and energy to make the housing programs at Caracole a place that people can call home.

“When asked about his most rewarding experience at Caracole, Paul says, ‘Seeing how happy residents are at the transitional houses makes it all worthwhile. When people find a place they can call home, it allows them a peace of mind they didn’t have before.’

“Caracole is proud to acknowledge Paul as one of our greatest volunteers. Without committed volunteers like Paul, Caracole wouldn’t have been able to provide the housing and supportive services for thousands of clients over the past twenty-four years.”—David E. White, Community Investment Coordinator, Caracole, Inc.

Caracole, Inc., provides safe transitional housing and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. For more information, log on to www.caracole.org.

Jeanne DiBattisia, Ruth Sutor & Joyce Gross

The Moveable Feast kitchen helps to “Feed people. Fight disease. Foster hope.”

“Jeanne DiBattisia, Ruth Sutor, and Joyce Gross are three volunteers who have helped in the Moveable Feast kitchen for three hours once a week since 1999. The three have become lifelong friends. They not only volunteer in the kitchen but support Moveable Feast with our events, Dining Out for Life and Ride for the Feast. They are at their best when welcoming new volunteers, not only welcoming them but nurturing and mentoring them. The three are always willing to give unconditionally and always with a smile. They are the true meaning of the word, ‘volunteer.’”—Tom Patrick, Volunteer Manager, Moveable Feast

Founded in 1989, Moveable Feast provides much-needed nutritional services to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other life-threatening conditions. For more information, log on to www.mfeast.org.

December 2011