Browsing Category: AmeriCorps

World AIDS Day for Team Tulsa

World AIDS Day for Team Tulsa began as a low-key testing event a local university in the afternoon and grew into a community gathering at night.


For the past couple of years, Team Tulsa has had the opportunity to use the Student Health Center at the University of Tulsa as a temporary testing site on World AIDS Day. This year was no different. We had a slow start, but Paige and Kacie spread the word at the campus’s activity center, and soon the clients came pouring in. We were only supposed to be there until 1:00pm, but the amount of clients waiting for testing required we stay longer. Kristin, Danielle and Carolyn ended up testing about 20 TU students in less than four hours. We also gave away condoms, male and female, and literature on HIV. In the waiting area, clients were greeted with a penis model and plastic model of the female reproductive organs, demonstrating the proper insertion of a female condom. Overall, the first part of our day went pretty well. It was a great start to World AIDS Day 2010.

After resting for a bit, the team members rejoined each other at Langston University in North Tulsa. There, Tulsa CARES, a major organization specializing in the well-being of those living with HIV/AIDS, set up a feast for the World AIDS Day commemoration event “Light for Rights.” Team Tulsa set up the candles for the lighting event later in the night. People from the community gathered and mingled while a local singer/songwriter entertained until about 6:30, when the event began. A few speakers, including our very own city supervisor, Janice Nicklas, addressed the state of HIV in the world, nation and Oklahoma. Rebecca Ungerman, a delightful and boisterous local performer (who was also at our Make a Difference Day event, DIVAS), addressed the conspicuous absence of any Tulsa and Oklahoma lawmakers at the end, which received a rousing round of applause.

A church choir sang after the speakers finished, followed by a heart wrenching story of a local Native American woman who was infected with HIV 18 years ago. The team then found our stations by the doors, and led the crowd outside, giving them candles along the way. The crowd stood in darkness while Pastor Bob Lawrence of the Community of Hope church gave a solemn speech, remembering those we have lost due to HIV and AIDS. Then, one by one, the crowd lit their candles and stood in silence in the cold.
The event was overwhelming, and required personal reflection from every participant involved. The sense of togetherness and community permeated the night, and brought Team Tulsa even closer together.

A Grand Difference!

Team Indy’s Make a Difference Day was nothing less than Grand! We were honored to be able to volunteer and attend the Damien Center’s annual Grande Masquerade, one of two major fundraisers the Damien Center holds each year, where all proceeds are given back to clients. The Damien Center is a local agency that offers vital supportive services to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS so they may live abundant and productive lives.

The morning of the event, our team was beginning to feel as if we were affected by this year’s title “The Sorcerer’s Spell” from all the work that mysteriously kept appearing. From assembling the lights to cutting colored film to be placed over lights was both exciting yet strenuous. The work only heightened when we were introduced to the dining area where we placed hundreds of chairs in their proper place while at the same time showing off our cleverly effective bow tying on the backs of those chairs.

Walking into the luxury hotel that night didn’t seem to be the same room we helped in decorating earlier! The decorations were something of a fantasy and the elaborate costumes were amazing. The night started off with a silent auction followed by dinner, entertainment, and midnight dancing. To see clients, board members, and sponsors having such a good time meant a lot to team Indianapolis. We knew our work did not go unnoticed and that it for sure made a difference. Our work benefited clients apart of the Damien Center as well as impacted the community by bringing people from all walks of life together! The Grande Masquerade was an eventful night and Team Indy was so thankful to the Circle City Coalition for allowing us the opportunity to experience it. We hope to make The Grande Masquerade a yearly tradition and look forward to continuing to make a difference everyday!

Living Positive By Design!

October 22, 2010 marked a day of  eagerness and anticipation for team Indianapolis as we took part in a meet and greet with Jack Mackenroth! Jack Mackenroth was a contestant on season 4 of the popular show “Project Runway”  hosted by Heidi Klum. During his brief appearance on the show he came out with being infected with HIV. This led to his campaign “Living Positive By Design”, an organization created to break stigmas about HIV/AIDS and for people living with the disease to think positive while keeping their health in check.

Team Indianapolis with Project Runway designer Jack Mackenroth

Team Indianapolis was honored to be invited to hear Mackenroth speak about his time on the show and his story behind the disease that he’s been living with for almost 20 years . Jack definitely doesn’t let this disease run him and motivates others to do the same.  His words not only enlightened our team but inspired us to want to do more with breaking down stereotypes tied to HIV/AIDS.

With such a personable setting, guests were elated to ask questions relating to HIV infected/affected clients, health issues, and of course autographs! The team bonded with other health agencies across the city and took away beneficial information we can all use in our placements. Team Indy  hopes to lead by example in our work as does Jack and wouldn’t mind meeting and greeting celebrities a long the way!

Team Indy explores the NAMES Quilt

On November 12th, Team Indianapolis traveled to Bloomington, IN to read names and help monitor the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.  This project allowed the team to explore and appreciate the quilt, a tribute to those affected by HIV/AIDS and the largest known piece of community folk art as of 2010.

The quilt was started in 1987 as a memorial to and celebration of the lives of early victims of the virus.  The pieces of the quilt are composed of 6’ x 3’ pieces of material decorated with anything from paint and embroidery to baby shoes and CD’s.  Currently, the quilt consists of 46,000 individual memorial panels and weighs about 54 tons.  The last time all of the pieces were displayed together was on the National Mall in 1996.  Today small collections of the quilt travel the country and are displayed at various locations.

Our visit was special because this was the largest collection of quilt pieces ever displayed in Indiana.  When we entered the hall at Indiana University housing these quilt pieces, they coated the walls and floor and hung from the ceiling.  While our teammates Ashely and Naomi read names of those honored by the quilt, we had the chance to admire some of these works of art.

Some of the pieces looked professionally done.  A piece for Freddie Mercury was made with crushed black velvet and extravagant silver detailing.  Others had a more homemade feel to them and often included personal messages from friends and family.  Regardless of  the content, the sheer size and emotion put into the display was enough to remind us all of what we are continually working for in our year of service.

The visitors at the IU display were clearly moved and fascinated by the quilt.   This kind of reception ensures that the quilt will remain a moving message for years and generations of viewers to come.

Team New Mexico Make a Difference Day in Taos, NM

On October 22, National AIDS Fund Team New Mexico traveled to Taos, NM to attend the statewide AmeriCorps member launch.  The launch is a weekend long AmeriCorps conference organized by the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC).  RMYC is based in Taos, NM and mobilizes youth in environmental service projects as well as educates youth in leadership and community responsibility.  During the weekend, team building sessions and trainings were offered including CPR/First AID, “Disaster Preparedness,” and “Community Organizing.”  RYMC also hosted team building sessions on a high ropes course to enable volunteers from around the state to meet and work together.  Over twenty programs around the state attended with almost 300 AmeriCorps volunteers participating in the launch.

On October 23, Team New Mexico, with 260 other AmeriCorps volunteers from around the state took action throughout the Taos region of New Mexico and participated in 15 different community service initiatives.  Team New Mexico partnered with the San Juan County Partnership volunteers at a local senior center to paint two rooms at the facility.  San Juan County Partnership is located in Farmington, NM and works with youth, families and individuals in substance abuse prevention, awareness and education.  Other service initiatives were removal of waste at an illegal dumping site, making fleece blankets for kids in foster care, and yard cleanup at a local church.

On Saturday night, Team New Mexico also represented the National AIDS Fund at the AmeriCorps swearing in ceremony.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, there were traditional Native American dancers from the neighboring Taos Pueblo as well as a local high school slam poetry group.  The weekend provided a great learning experience for our team as well as an opportunity to work with and learn about different AmeriCorps programs around New Mexico and some of the other great work being accomplished by AmeriCorps volunteers.

Es Mejor Saber at National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

On Friday, October 15, 2010, Team New Mexico participated in “Artists at Work: A Festival of Awareness.”  The awareness campaign was sponsored by Southwest CARE Center, a Santa Fe based clinic dedicated to providing comprehensive medical care, research, education, prevention and support services to people affected by HIV/AIDS.  One of our team members Emily Knittle works at SW Care for her volunteer service.  “Artists at Work” was part of a day of events commemorating National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The event was open to the public and featured the live painting of a mural by two local artists John Santos and Guadalupe Vargas.  The mural was painted on the outside of a café at 2nd street and Lena in Santa Fe and urges everyone that passes that “es mejor saber,” (it’s better to know) and to go get tested for HIV.  The event also featured a local DJ with live hip hop and break dancing.  Team New Mexico participated by helping to spread the word about the event and to draw people in.  We also assisted by helping to set up and clean up afterward.  Southwest CARE also provided free anonymous rapid HIV testing to the public as part of the event.

DJ 13 Pieces and Harambe Movement B Boys

DJ 13 Pieces and the Harambe Movement B Boys

The “Es Mejor Saber” campaign was a great opportunity for us to come together with several groups in the community to spread awareness about HIV.  It was great to work with so many people volunteering their time to spread awareness.  The mural stands as a lasting reminder to the community that it’s better to know your HIV status and to go get yourself tested.