Our mission to end homelessness for people living with HIV is an ambitious one. But it’s possible—especially with the help of volunteers like Cynthia. In order to guarantee our clients’ confidentiality, Cynthia is one of the few volunteers who helps directly with our programs. Her work allows Living Room to continue to provide the highest level of client care possible.
We sat down with Cynthia to learn more about what drives her desire to help Living Room as much as she does.
What made you want to be a volunteer at Living Room?
I am working on my bachelor’s degree in social work, and I wanted to find something in the field I was pursuing. I’m a doer, and, once my children were all grown up, it was only a matter of time before I put my focus and time and skills into more volunteering. I’ve been volunteering with organizations for quite some time, like Emmanuel Baptist Church in Riverdale.
My oldest son has a learning disability. In addition to learning so much about love, parenting, and patience, I also was shocked to find how few resources and advocates there were for my son and for me as his parent. From that, I’ve learned that everyone needs help. They really do. And I want to do what I can to help people.
What’s it like volunteering with Living Room’s programs?
I’ve learned so much here—things helpful to my training in social work but also things about HIV/AIDS I never knew. Working with Living Room has opened my eyes to HIV/AIDS in Atlanta and all of the things people living with HIV have to go through when struggling with homelessness. Living with HIV just adds another layer of complexity to what they’re going through. It’s been eye-opening.
When I’m here in the mornings, I’m so comfortable and learning so much. There’s so much passion in this office and in the staff. It’s an energy that you contribute to, but it also feeds you. It replenishes you in a way.
As someone who’s been volunteering for quite a while, what wisdom do you have for folks just thinking about volunteering?
Make sure you have passion. Volunteer with an organization whose mission is closest to your heart. And volunteer with an organization that is working to help a serious need. All nonprofits are doing good work, but not all serve the same level of need in their community.
And have fun. Being a volunteer is serious work, and it takes commitment. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the work that you do and the people you’re working with. That’s really what makes a difference.
Interested in becoming a volunteer at Living Room? We’re looking for volunteers right now!
Volunteer at Taste of Life 2017