March Volunteer Spotlight - Betty S!


March 09, 2011



This month's volunteer spotlight is Betty S! Betty has been volunteering with The Damien Center since 2007 and has been very involved is us ever since. She has trained other volunteers and has been an active part of our outreach efforts, working booths at health fairs. She consistently works both the front desk and the testing reception desk, and she has been involved with both of our annual fundraisers: Dining Out for Life and Grande Masquerade.
Here's a look at Betty:

1. Have you ever held a volunteer position before?

For years I was a volunteer at Second Presbyterian Church, where I am now employed as a Christian Educator.

2. What sparked your interest in volunteering with the Damien Center?

In 1995, I learned for the first time that my brother was HIV+. Several weeks later, he was hospitalized with late stage AIDS. A friend brought me to the Damien Center’s support group, where I learned what to expect and how to respond to my brother’s illness. I could not have handled it without their help. During my visits with David, I was able to talk about difficult subjects. He was so afraid of being turned away, but he died knowing that all of us in our family loved him and always had. I am here to repay a long overdue debt to the Center for helping us give David peace before he died.

3. How do you hope to serve the community and our clients here at the Damien Center?

One thing I hope to do is raise the consciousness of the public about HIV and remove its stigma. I do that by teaching HIV 101 to students and volunteers and by answering the phone at the testing desk once a week. I also man the table at health fairs when my schedule permits. It’s a great way to meet the public and answer questions.

4. What has been your most memorable moment while volunteering at the Damien Center?

The real payoff is the relationships I build with the staff and clients at the Damien Center. That said, one of my greatest moments was when I won the costume contest at the Grande Masquerade in 2009. I couldn’t believe it! I will never forget having hundreds of gay men applaud when I stepped up as “Starlet O’Hara” in the green curtain dress. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win against some of those amazing and complex costumes that appear every year. (Even if you don’t dress in costume, volunteering there is some of the most fun you will ever have. I highly recommend it.)

5. What are some attributes that you feel you contribute to the Damien Center and your assigned position?

A lot of people don’t realize that I am an introvert; but I am proof you don’t have to be an extrovert to volunteer. I am driven by a desire to make a change in the way people with HIV are dealt with by the public and by public officials. In my very small way, I hope to make a difference by respecting the dignity and humanity of those with HIV.

6. What are your hobbies and interests?

I work at a church and love astronomy--and thus have both a vocation and avocation that bring conversation to a complete halt. (“Look at the time!”) I’m a certified scuba diver in search of warm water. And I am a “token straight” contributor to The Bilerico Project, an online group blog for LGBT interests. I love my life and the people in it, especially my sweet and patient husband of 32 years and my two wonderful children.

Thank you so much, Betty!