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Archive for Sunday, December 3, 2006

Working with patients motivate AIDS project volunteer

December 3, 2006

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World AIDS Day events come to a close with this evening's Douglas County AIDS Project's Red Ribbon Art Auction at Maceli's, 1031 N.H.

One volunteer with the Douglas County AIDS Project, or DCAP, had motivation for this year's events from working with HIV and AIDS patients a few years ago during an alternative spring break through Kansas University at Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center in New York.

"Just the life experience in general. It makes your life richer because I can relate to many more different issues since we did that first program," said Katie Black, who helped DCAP staff organize World AIDS Day with intern Emily Collins.

A 2001 graduate of Lansing High School who will earn a bachelor's degree in political science from KU later this month, Black helped spread the red "Ribbons of Life" throughout Lawrence the past two weeks. On the ribbons, anyone could leave a message in honor of friends and family members or to make a statement about treating HIV and AIDS.

DCAP served about 60 clients, and health organizations estimate that as of the end of last year more than 1,216 Kansans are living with HIV or AIDS.

What is your position at DCAP? How did you get involved?

I'm the assistant coordinator of volunteers. We're trying to come up with a volunteer recognition program. A lot has been going on right now. We have World AIDS Day, and then the art auction. A lot of my time has been going to the Ribbons of Life project.

We came up with that and went around to businesses and made the boxes and cut ribbons.

(Volunteering in New York) got me interested in (HIV and AIDS education) more, seeing how those people live.

It also ties in with politics in a way because of the different free-trade agreements with third-world countries, who buy brand-name drugs instead of generic drugs. There's the whole social justice aspect of that work too, so I was attracted to that.

Why do you believe volunteering is important?

For me volunteering has helped me in a lot of ways because when I was younger I was really timid and shy. And after high school I did an AmeriCorps program, and I had to volunteer in a lot of different places and talk to a lot of different people.

You learn a lot more about the world volunteering than you would in a classroom. You learn what real people go through, and you can make a connection with them. You are challenged to do different things.

You are enthusiastic about helping HIV and AIDS patients. What is the best way to help?

I realized how much more it affects people than we normally think because AIDS is kind of like cancer was 50 years ago where people don't like to talk about it. There are a lot more people affected than you would think, and they need public support that I don't think happens even in a place like Lawrence.

I think a good step would just be talking about it more. Things like World AIDS Day are good for that because it's getting together and showing support.

What are some volunteer needs DCAP has?

They want people who can do Internet design and education planning. If you don't have that much time, you can even just do downtown outreach one night. I think it's good because it's flexible. It's probably one of the most comfortable environments.

- If you know someone who should be featured in the Sunday "Do You Know?" column, contact staff writer George Diepenbrock at 832-7144.

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