Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Merry Holidays everybody, from Team Indianapolis!

Amanda, Chloe, Ebony, Katie, Kyle, and Oliver

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

midwest swing.

Dearest comrades,
Let me tell you about Team Chicago's November. A time filled with first snows and Guy Fawkes' masks. With Bears' and Bulls' losses. Oh, and Blackhawk wins. They play hockey. Or something.

Our first Fifth day was on November the sixth. We met in the morning and put together safe sex kits. Then we broke up into three teams, covering the north, south, and west sides of the city. There, we handed out our 'awesome night in a bag' kits. According to Kevin's estimate, as a team we reached out to 2,000 individuals and handed out approximately 500 safe sex kits. After this, we went to the Humboldt Park Soup Kitchen where we thought we'd just be serving the meal and chatting with the people there, but it turned out that the cooks weren't going to be coming that evening, so we made and served the entire meal for about 60 people. It was a great day for the team as we reached a huge population in Chicago.

The next week, Mallory and I planned the fifth day. We spent a few hours unloading supplies for a food pantry. In all, we unloaded about 3,000 pounds of food! Later on, we went to my agency, TPAN, and painted the entire staff area (which now looks phenomenal). We did however, sadly, lose one AmeriCorps sweatshirt to paint that day. RIP Katrece's sweatshirt.

(Katrece, happy, before the destruction of her sweatshirt)

(Davina, getting stuff done)

Next, we volunteered and attended the Chicago Youth Against AIDS conference. It was a forum that discussed HIV in the context of young adults. We discussed how kids can be comfortable in their skin, how to reach out to youth, and why we think young people are so complacent towards the disease.

The next week we ate a lot of turkey.

And then finally, for World AIDS Day, we had the honor of attending and volunteering at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's 'World of Chocolate' fundraiser. Taking place in the Hilton Chicago, this testament to AFC's prowess in the community redefined my concept of class. The Governor of Illinois, along with hundreds of others, enjoyed a huge variety of chocolate vendors as the AFC raised over $200,000 that evening.

And then Team Chicago, all dressed up, cleaned up the Hilton.

November was an exciting time for us. It seemed all of our fifth days took shape quickly and had a very real effect on the Chicago community. Our fifth days are a chance to reach out to communities we don't see Monday-Thursday. A chance to see Chicago from a new perspective and tackle problems you didn't know existed. A chance to help a larger community than you see at your agency and a time to see where your friends work everyday. Also, sometimes, you get free food.

I'll post again in January! From Team Chicago, Enjoy the holidays. And here's a holiday food tip:
Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

Monday, December 14, 2009

World AIDS Day Team Tulsa

on world aids day, lauren and i went to the university of tulsa (my alma mater) and provided testing for the students for five hours during the day. the event was well advertised and we had a great response. we did about thirty tests and even more individual counseling and risk assessment sessions. i love working at TU because i got my start in social justice work while i was attending school there. i'm so glad lauren got to share the day with me as well. i know the students appreciate the time we spend there. the night before world aids day, haley and i also did an education session to a group of TU students before they watched "and the band played on."

here's a little description of what sara and haley did:

Haley and I attended the Tulsa C.A.R.E.S. World Aids Day Symposium. It was a fantastic day; we had about 80 people show up for the event. We had pieces of the quilt and made our own poster with messages about people that we have lost to AIDS. We had vendors and speakers. Vendors from places like: HOPE testing, Red Cross, Tulsa Public Library, and Mac Cosmetics. The speakers spoke on topics such as women and sexuality, men and sexuality, legal issues, work force and job corps, and Hep C. It was a great turn out and will only grow larger each year. I was very proud to be a part of such a great event!!!

after spending the day split up, the team came together for our city's world aids day service at all souls unitarian church. the americorps team help to provide and set up refreshments for after the service. there were speakers, candle lighting, and a collection for the tulsa community aids project. it was a beautiful, touching ceremony.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update from the District!

Hello fellow Awesomes,

It's finally time for team D.C. to update y'all on what we've been up to. We've been having so much fun at national days of service that we forgot to update the blog!

In honor of make a difference day, team D.C. booked it to the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in downtown Washington. We collaborated with a former NAF Team DC AmeriCorps member to help update library collections and facilitate the upcoming move that many DC library branches are undergoing.

The team was assigned to go down to "the cage". The cage is exactly that -- a dusty, dingy metal cage in the basement of the library that houses thousands of not-quite-shelf-ready articles. We spent hours in the cage re-labeling books and chatting it up with each other and some library employees. While the work was a tad mundane, it was awesome to be able to help the library out while conversing and bonding with team members!

We thought our Make A Difference Day Service was fun... but we had no idea how much fun was in store for us on World AIDS Day! The team traveled to Fairfax, VA -- the home of George Mason University -- to assist NOVAM (Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry) with their HIV testing event.

Some of us planted signs across campus, some of us heckled embarrassed college students into grabbing a few condoms, and some of us got to test and counsel George Mason University students. It was awesome! We helped NOVAM test a record number of people in one day.

Many panels of the AIDS quilt were on display. It was hard to see the memories that victims of AIDS have left behind; especially when I noticed on one panel, the person had been born the same year as me, but her life had been cut short in 1998. Even after one full year of service, acknowledging the full impact of this virus is very difficult.

Until next time,


Team DC

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Team Indianapolis came together on World AIDS Day 2009 to take part and assist with events that were already organized around the community. A choice was made to take part in these events and help with whatever was needed instead of putting together our own event or plan something separate on our own. The team's first task of the day was to help the Indiana State Department of Health publicly launch their new HIV testing campaign entitled, "One Test, Two Lives." The statewide campaign, put together by the ISDH and other local health organizations, was launched on December 1st, in order to curb the transmission of perinatal HIV transmission. The One Test, Two Lives campaign goals are to encourage all pregnant mothers in Indiana to be tested for HIV, no matter what, in order to prevent any more children in the state from catching HIV from their mothers during pregnancy and/or childbirth.

We spent out morning assisting One Test, Two Lives campaign staff, from the ISDH, set up their presentation forum, in the North Atrium of the Indiana State House. This venue placed The One Test, Two Lives campaign, as well as World AIDS Day literally right in the center of the state's arena for policy, law, and government. We were surrounded by the offices of state house and senate representations, state supreme court judges, and the governor and lieutenant governor.

The ceremony went without a hitch. Various doctors in the pediatric HIV field spoke, as well as the presentation of awards to supporters, and the reading of a piece written by an HIV-positive mother of two HIV-negative children. Press was invited to attend the event, to further assist with getting the message out that all mothers should be tested.

The evening of World AIDS Day had many events going on around the city, so the team divided the events in order to have a broader reach throughout the community. A local church, The Church Within, in downtown Indianapolis held a ceremony to honor those living with and those affected by HIV. The team helped with parking before the event and then with the event itself, which included performances by the men's and women's choirs, panels of the AIDS Quilt on display, as well as lots of cookies and punch! One local woman played the guitar while singing an original piece. Those wanting to participate in the memorial service were encouraged to light a candle and say the name of the person who they were remembering.

A second World AIDS Day event attended by team members, going on at the same time as The Church Within's event, was hosted by the Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition. This event, titled "The Courage To Live," commemorated World AIDS Day and honored champions in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The event was held at the Skyline club, on the 36th floor of Indianapolis' One America Building, the second-tallest building in the city. The event's keynote speaker was a consumer and client from one of the team's host agencies, the LifeCare Program of Clarian Health. Key players in the HIV community (individuals and organizations) were honored for their continued commitment to the fight against HIV.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do you know your status?

On World AIDS Day the focus was on awareness and education for all within the Triangle area.

According to the CDC, HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of over 550,000 Americans. Today about 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and 1/5 of those infected are unaware of their infection. North Carolina reported 17,127 AIDS cases to the CDC in 2007. North Carolina ranked 13th among the 50 states in cumulative reported AIDS cases.

World AIDS Day started in December 1988. World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is 'Universal Access and Human Rights'. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of measurable goals for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental, degradation and discrimination against women. These are the Millennium Development Goals. One of these goals is to stop the spread of AIDS around the world by 2015. Our leaders made this promise. It is now up to them and us to keep it.

Team North Carolina spent this WAD on Decemeber 1st, at the Durham Hyati Heritage Center where 100+ Durham community members, local CBOs, friends, and family came together to remember those lost, those living and those preventing HIV/AIDS. Many of our team's agency's helped to sponsor the event. Before the event officially started there was testing offered upstairs at the Center where many locals were tested. Our team assisted with the ushering of people to their seats, anwsering of questions and passing out ribbons, information and light up AIDS ribbons for the remembrance ceremony. There were many different community groups that participated in the entertainment for the night highlights included a mime, youth chorus, solo vocalist and a dance troop. It was a memorable event for all.

New Years Resolution for Team NC: blog on time and all the time! :) Hope you all enjoyed your holidays!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gay Rodeo - Team NM

The New Mexico team was split up between two agencies, South West Cares (Trey's host site) and Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless (my host site) to do HIV testing, so Trey and I decided to both write a portion of the blog.

The day started out kind of slow for the first few hours, but somewhat entertaining what with the transexual women (many of whom had sashes indicating awards formally won), the many gay men who were working for other agencies, Alex the nurse who often works with Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless there doing Hepatitis vaccines, and last but not least my wonderful co-worker David and AmeriCorps team member Arika. There was also a very nice woman from Whole Foods there who was providing free organic fruit and health bars to people.

The day started to pick up about an hour and a half in, and I'm happy to say out of the 16 test we were trying to get done, we got twelve and spoke to many people about Health Care for the Homeless and general healthy sexual preferences.

Once our time was over, I had to take off and sadly didn't get to explore Gay Rodeo to much, but I had a wonderful time while there and left feeling quite accomplished, hough a little disappointed we didn't get to do any condom demonstrations despite our brand new wood dildos (I don't even know where the jokes begin and end with that) and my frequent offerings to show them off.