Editor’s Note: Throughout the Combined Fund Drive campaign, which runs through Nov. 21, University Week will feature University employees who volunteer at CFD agencies.
Name: Jennifer Mercado
UW Job: Administrative Assistant A, Human Resources, Office of the Dean, School of Medicine
Volunteer Activity: CareTeam member for Multifaith Works, an organization that provides a compassionate response through its growing AIDS CareTeam program. AIDS CareTeams involve diverse volunteers from faith communities, congregations, and others who wish to help people living with HIV/AIDS who continue to face debilitating side effects from the potent medications, compounded for some by isolation, ignorance and fear.
Organization’s mission: Multifaith Works AIDS CareTeams are groups of seven to 15 persons from one or more congregations or faith communities. Several CareTeams also include spiritual persons with no religious affiliation. Each CareTeam is assigned to one person or household living with HIV/AIDS (their “CarePartner”). Individually and together, team members offer practical support and pastoral care to an individual or household living with AIDS. Activities may include visiting, transportation, birthday parties, outings, phone calls, childcare, light housework or meal support. Even more important, teams offer a listening ear, a touch, hugs, and friendship. For more information, please visit http://www.multifaith.org.
How long a volunteer: For about 2 years.
Why this activity? A family member was diagnosed with HIV about seven years ago. He felt like life was hopeless and he didn’t have anyone to turn to. He went into a deep depression and none of us knew what to do to help. We tried to make him feel better and help him see that life was still worth living by visiting with him, talking, and just being there for him. It brought me extreme joy to see him smile or laugh about something while we were spending time together. He is my inspiration for working with others who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Memorable experiences while volunteering: At a training seminar for new volunteers, our CarePartner was chosen to be part of the panel that gives testimony about their involvement in the organization. Until that moment, I never realized just how much simple acts of kindness could impact a person’s life. Our CarePartner listed all the activities we had done as a team throughout the year and how much they were appreciated.
Satisfaction in volunteering: Knowing that I’m making a positive difference in someone else’s life.