Like many nonprofits, ASC relies upon the talents and goodwill of community volunteers and student interns, who advance our mission of "helping many, one by one" in countless ways-gift-wrapping mountains of presents for our annual Holiday Toy Drive, prepping and serving beautiful meals to hundreds of clients at holiday events, assisting with communications activities, sorting garments in our "Wonderful Wearables" Clothing Room, providing administrative support, and much more.
We spoke with three of ASC's interns and community volunteers about their experiences as part of the ASC family. Here, in their own words, are their stories. Once you hear what they have to say, we hope you'll consider becoming an ASC volunteer.
Anthony Tukai (Student - Rutgers University)
"I come from Kenya, where HIV/AIDS is a problem of great concern. With my undergraduate degree in social work, I hope to carry my skills in counseling, case management, support, prevention, and HIV education back home to Kenya to work with others infected with HIV.
"During my internship at ASC, I helped with intake assessments, escorted clients to hospital appointments, co-facilitated ASC's Health Issues Rap Group, and worked on the donor database. I learned about interviewing skills, how to successfully engage clients, and confidentiality issues. The clients taught me many things I did not know.
"I think the skills I gained during my internship at ASC will help me in my future career. I met people from different backgrounds, different countries, and different sexual orientations. ASC is such a diverse institution that I think people who volunteer at ASC learn and experience things that they'll never encounter anywhere else."
Mark McLaren (Freelance Musician/Musical Supervisor)
"After finding out about ASC during an online search for volunteer opportunities on Idealist.org, I first volunteered at ASC last December for a holiday gift-wrapping session. Soon after that I volunteered at ASC's Client Holiday Party, which had such a festive and elegant atmosphere. It's great that ASC worked so hard to make this lovely evening for families. It was spirit-sustaining and heartwarming to see how much fun the clients and their families had-and to be able to give them a bit of what everyone else gets during the holiday season.
"I've continued on as an ASC volunteer ever since, doing mostly office work (data entry and client satisfaction surveys) to learn about the 'nuts and bolts' of ASC and find out exactly what the agency does and who it does it for. I've been pleased with how much responsibility I've been able to take on. I volunteer once a week for a full day. As a musician who works mostly a night, that schedule works well for me.
"Right now I'm doing musical supervision for a tour of Cats. Volunteering at ASC echoes one of the themes that emerges in the show-that old adage about how the one who gives receives so much more than the one who receives. That's because, at ASC you're working on a great mission. You're working for an agency that's well organized and where everything you do feels very, very productive. It's great to give back and to work for a client base that really needs help."
Courtney Saunders (Marketing Supervisor - Time Warner Cable of NY and NJ; Co-Secretary - Cable Positive, NY Chapter)
Editor's Note: Cable Positive is a national nonprofit volunteer organization created as the cable industry's response to HIV/AIDS. In 2003, ASC was selected as the partner community-based AIDS organization of Cable Positive's New York Chapter. In addition to raising funds that support ASC's many programs and services, the chapter's members frequently volunteer en masse at ASC events and activities.
"At Cable Positive's New York Chapter, we really like the idea of helping local organizations. In our work with AIDS Service Center NYC, we are really connected to the people we're helping. We volunteer at ASC's holiday party and Thanksgiving dinner and that kind of involvement is not an abstract form of giving-it's very specific and personal and rewarding.
"ASC's seasonal events offer clients and peers an opportunity to simply be and to celebrate the season together. Many people do not have a family system that can support them, so they need a holiday party and a place to experience those feelings of 'family' and 'home.' For everyone who attends, these events are about making time to enjoy life. Because living with HIV/AIDS is not simply about suffering. Joy is so important in life. You have to give people that as well.
"Everyone I know who is involved with Cable Positive's New York Chapter is very devoted. What I mean by that is, we don't just want to give money-although we do that, too-we also want to give time, and ask others to give their time. Part of the reason we're so involved with ASC in a hands-on way is that we really believe that this is what we're supposed to be doing. We firmly believe in the importance of this work."
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at ASC, please click here. To become an ASC volunteer, contact Ernesta Pierre, Assistant Director of Marketing and Planning at (212) 645-0875 ext. 314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.