The summer after my sophomore year at Georgia Tech I was on the hunt for a job. Although in past college and high school summers I had resigned myself to the character building work of being a sales associate at Limited Too, I was ready for something that would stretch and challenge that way I saw the world. After an exhaustive search, I found an opportunity with an agency called Jerusalem House. Jerusalem House provides permanent supportive housing for homeless men, women, and families who are affected by HIV/AIDS. That summer was the first time that I was faced with the reality of both homelessness and the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Most of my internship was spent organizing files, writing newsletters, and other classic intern tasks, but during my last few weeks I was given a unique project. We had just acquired a new block of apartments to use for permanent supportive housing, and I was tasked with taking stock of the furniture and setting up the apartments for move in. On one occasion, I was able to be in the apartment when our client moved in for the first time.
I so vividly remember the humble joy on the mother’s face as she and her children walked through her new apartment for the first time. Just days before, she and her family had been homeless and she struggled every day with uncertainty. This move into an apartment provided so much more than shelter for her. It provided security, hope, and freedom.
That day solidified my commitment to working to help people find freedom like that. For the past three years, I have served as the Community Relations Director of the Gateway Center-an agency in downtown Atlanta that works to end homelessness for men, women and families. In the years I worked at Gateway I was able to see thousands of individuals and families move into freedom and self-sufficiency, and my passion has grown tenfold.
Today, I am incredibly honored to be the newest member of the CARE for AIDS team. This transition is so exciting for me, and I cannot wait to hear, experience, and share the stories of freedom. CARE for AIDS provides freedom from fear, freedom from isolation, and hope for a future . It is so much more than medical care and counseling…CARE for AIDS provides a spark and connection to life, and I cannot wait to expand my experiences and learn from this wonderful agency, and our incredible clients.