HCAT Volunteers: From and For The Community

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Seghel Yohannes, Volunteer

Volunteers have been at the heart of AHP’s HIV counseling and testing services since 1992. Our volunteers encompass and reflect the diversity of our clients: LGBTQ and allies, young and older, therapists, nurses, medical students, and AHP interns, for starters. These invaluable members of our team create a culture of “from the community, for the community” and have been instrumental in helping us remain a welcoming, vibrant, informed, and youthful counseling program. Volunteers go through extensive preparation training and, for many, their experience enhances the course of their lives as they go on to become physicians, counselors, psychiatrists, and public health practitioners. Since its inception, the HIV Counseling and Testing (HCAT) program has trained more than 700 volunteers, who have provided thousands of hours of HIV counseling and testing in service to AHP and to the community. They have become an integral part of the fabric of our organization and are embedded in the gestalt of our organization.

We asked a few of our volunteers to tell us how they feel about volunteering for AHP and here are their responses:

Fabrizio:
Interacting with such a diverse population of clients has been very enriching to me, I have learned so much from my clients I couldn’t be more thankful to them. And of course I cherish the friendships with staff members and other peer volunteers, I feel so lucky to have met such a great group of people! Thanks!

Seghel:
I have been deeply inspired by the unwavering goal of AHP leadership to provide high-quality care through an iterative process of evaluation and improvement.  It has also been truly moving to work with leaders who are people of color and demonstrate, on a daily basis, their commitment to the communities they serve, as well as providing examples of career goals that I, a person of color, also aspire to achieve.

Hannah:
I volunteer because I wanted to learn and to work with the LGBTQ community. Since volunteering in May I already feel more in tune with our community. I particularly enjoy the downtime spent with staff and volunteers. It’s a safe space to talk about what is going on in the world and laugh at the vibrant personalities that this HIV clinic draws.  I love the nourishing environment that the staff members have created. Thank you so much for this opportunity. AHP truly is a special place.

Christiana:
The training Devin provided over the course of eight weeks, combined with the opportunity to shadow during that time, was a really solid foundation for the counseling that we do at AHP HCAT. I feel really lucky to work on a team of staff and volunteers where I can feel supported in the work that we do, and there are always opportunities to learn and grow from each other. 

Thanks to each of you and to all our AHP volunteers!