If you're ready, willing and able, you might consider donating your time to help others with HIV and/or help out organizations that help others with HIV. Most organizations are strapped for cash and aren't able pay staff because most of the money they take in, goes right out the door to support others. They are usually in desperate need of volunteer staff at every level and skill set. Don't sell your experience living with HIV short either (both the good and the bad) chances are very good there is someone out there looking for the guidance and advice you might be able to give.
To be successful, and happy in a volunteer position, you should treat it like a job search. Make sure you have a list of your past experiences and qualifications. That will help match you with a position that suits you and that you are suited for.
To get started, here are a few ideas:
- First, look to your local AIDS Service Organization (ASO). In larger cities, some ASOs might be well staffed but if they don't have a current position that fits, they can probably refer you to another ASO that may be in need.
- If you are religious or spiritual (or would like to be) looking into helping out at Faith-Based or Church-Based Organization might be a good route to take. Many of these organizations have both in-house and outreach programs that need staff.
- Many ethnic communities, especially in larger cities, have Community Based Organizations that operate like ASOs and Faith-Based Organizations. If you feel more comfortable with members of your own ethnicity, or feel that the need is greater serving people of your own ethnicity, a Community Based Organization like that might be what you're looking for.
- There are usually always volunteer positions available for HIV/AIDS benefits, fund raising and walks or runs. Depending on the size of the event, the positions can be lengthy however, many are fairly short-term.
- If you really want to go for it, you can find a unique need in your community or city and start your own volunteer organization. Come up with an idea and if you need funding - look for it! There are really quite a few funding options for good, helpful ideas through private, governmental and even corporate charities and funding.
Becoming A Volunteer Can Help You Too
Many of the people featured as Positive Profiles in HIV Positive! magazine probably would have never become volunteers or activists if it hadn’t been for their HIV positive diagnosis. While they began volunteering for different reasons, they found that it actually helped them in a lot of different ways.
Here are some ways becoming a volunteer can benefit you personally:
Boost Your Self-Esteem
Volunteering can increase your self-confidence, self-esteem and help with a more positive outlook on life. Because you are doing something good for others with HIV, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and take pride in what you’ve done. This boost in confidence and self-esteem will enable you to face life more positively. And the more you feel good about yourself, the more positive your perspective will be on your dreams, goals, and even life in general.
For those who are suffering from depression, volunteering can help fight it.
Helps With Feelings Of Isolation
For many people with HIV, the feeling of being alone with nobody to talk to is one of the worst aspects. Being a volunteer puts you in contact with people who share a common thread.
Since you are constantly working with others, you are never alone and you are also gaining a broader and more solid support group. This can help you to manage and get through any of your tough times.
Change your Attitude by Changing Your Surroundings
If you’ve been depressed and alone or if your peer group has put you in a downward spiral, most people that volunteer are positive and energetic. These are the types of people that you can benefit from associating with - especially if you are trying to get a new set of friends in an effort to get clean or sober or just want to start a more positive lifestyle.
Improve Your Physical Health
Studies have shown that volunteering and keeping busy can help prevent poor health. This is especially beneficial when you are HIV positive. Even for otherwise healthy individuals, volunteers who start early are said to develop greater functional ability and better health in their older years. Volunteers were also shown to have lower mortality rates. This means that people who volunteer often live longer than those who don’t, even when factors such as gender, physical health, and socioeconomic status are taken into account.
Increase Your Knowledge
Another thing that nearly 100% of our Positive Profile people have told us is to “Get educated.” Whether you’re mentoring, involved in peer-to-peer counseling or involved with support groups, when you’re involved with others who are HIV positive, you can’t help but learn more about HIV and learn from their experiences.
So Get Started!
The opportunities are out there and keep volunteering until you find a good fit for you. The benefits for others and yourself can be immeasurable!
Copyright 2016, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
This magazine is intended to enhance your relationship with your doctor - not replace it! Medical treatments and products should always be discussed with a licensed physician who has experience treating HIV and AIDS!