At first I was a little disappointed that right after graduating from THE Ohio State University I would be starting work the following day in Columbus, Ohio. So many of my friends had weeks or months off before starting the next step in a different city, state, or country even. However, this week was amazing and I couldn’t imagine a better, more uplifting way to start my summer as an alumna beginning to find my career path.
I work for the AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio), specifically in the development office. ARC Ohio is a wonderful organization in terms of mission, beliefs, and programs. The office is comprised of a development, prevention, treatment, and financial office in a broad sense. Overall, we aim to provide our clients with comprehensive assistance, from anonymous, free HIV testing to determine status to treatment options with prescription drugs to assisting with rent, utility, and food bills. There can be a downward spiral with a positive HIV diagnosis that begins with increasing medical bills and leads to making difficult choices between upholding prescription regimes or eating and sleeping with a roof over your head. I’m so proud to be working for an organization that truly saves lives in every sense imaginable.
This week I hit the ground running. This summer I am responsible for devising my own outreach plan to recruit volunteers for a Street Team to raise interested in our AIDS Walk in September and to also form partnerships that lead to financial sponsorship or advertisement. On the agenda this week was tabling at (614) Day and Pride.
(614) Day was put on by the Harmony Project, a choir that bases its membership on volunteering–so. cool. It was also co-hosted by (614) Magazine. I had a great time at Park Patio and Grille, talking to people interested in volunteering and also normal bar patrons that were curious to see what all the tables were about! Overall, it was a successful event for ARC Ohio. I event landed a video spot on the CW Columbus’s Columbus Bicentennial Blog! We had so many people interested in our events and organization. I’m sure the free stickers, condoms, and suckers helped though 🙂
I also got to table at our Pride Parade and Festival this weekend, which was an event I always missed because I have never been in Columbus for the summer. It was a great day, though. Pride made me remember how lucky I am to live in such a progressive, inclusive, metropolitan community that makes great efforts to value people of all walks of life. I certainly met some characters as they came by our booth. Some were completely decked out in rainbow boas, glitter, heels, fishnets, body paint, flags, posters; you name it, I probably saw it! It was so much fun to see people wear their pride, whether it was an outward declaration about themselves or support for a friend or family member.
The moment that impacted me the most though was when people came up to our booth and said “You guys literally saved my life,” “Without you, I would have died years ago,” and “If it hadn’t been for your organization, I would have watched some of my family members and friends die.” It moved me and made me proud to be working for ARC Ohio. My boss had told me that our CEO always asks, “Have you saved a life today?” when he comes in from Dayton, but being at Pride and hearing the stories of some of our clients while having the freedom to be themselves (gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, etc.) drove that fundamental idea home to me. I am part of a grassroots nonprofit in Columbus, Ohio, a city that has given me some much in addition to my education, that saves people from a disease that has no cure.
As I packed up our table yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that it was more than serendipity that led me to this position. It reaffirmed for me the importance of any position I have to be for a great cause with a nonprofit organization. It also gave me the fuel to power through this next week with only one day off and sparked so many ideas for my outreach campaign. I am excited for what this summer will bring!