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how can i make a difference?
Feb 28, 2012

As a person living with HIV i feel wasted, for despite being a graduate i have had to go for the last seven years without any form of employment. but i have the capacity to change people for the better using the vast knowledge i have on HIV and AIDS. Please hold my hand and show me the direction to go and fund raise to make it real.

Response from Mr. Chambers

I certainly understand your frustration. So many of us depended on our work for our sense of usefulness, our participation in society, even our identity. It's difficult to give that up, without feelings of withdrawal and depression.

I am assuming that you are collecting some form of disability, either private disability insurance or Social Security Disability or both. Almost all plans have some options to allow you to do some work without losing your benefits. Obviously, you should know the rules well before attempting such work.

However, even for my clients who want to try to return to work, I strongly recommend you consider some type of volunteer work. Just giving some of your time helping others you can not only feel helpful and increase your feelings of self-worth.

Wherever you live there are sure to be opportunities to contribute through volunteering some of your time and expertize. The best place to start is to assess your abilities and what population you would like to assist.

Next you should consider just what you could do and how much time you could reasonably spend doing it. Based on your question you may want to consider speaking to groups about HIV/AIDS, helping at anonymous test sites, help organizations with fund raising.

I do not recommend any sort of full-time volunteer work or any type of work that would be difficult for you physically and/or mentally. Start slowly and see how your body reacts.

Contact some agencies; visit them if possible. Check out the organization to see how comfortable it would be for you. Discuss with them your abilities and your limitations. You don't need to go into details about your condition, just make sure they understand you have limits. You may want to make it clear that while you want to help, there may be times that you just will not be able to show up if you're having a bad day.

If organizations don't work out for you, what can you do in your own neighborhood, on your own? Visit an elderly person living alone? Help with a political campaign? Deliver meals to HIV or elderly persons? Drive someone to a medical appointment? Stay home and visit with lonely or ill persons by phone or even stuff envelopes for a fundraiser? You are limited only by your physical limitations and your imagination and your desires.

Don't over do it and don't commit to doing too much. I suggest you start slowly and see how it goes. If it works out, you may do it more frequently. Who knows? Maybe you will discover you need to learn the work rules for your disability benefit(s) and try to do little bit of paid work. As long as you do not strain your capabilities, I assure you that you will feel better and feel more valued.

Best of luck to you, Jacques

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