Illinois: Northwestern University Students Volunteer for Those Affected by HIV/AIDS
January 24, 2006
Each Saturday morning, a group of Northwestern University students volunteers for Vital Bridges, a nonprofit organization that provides free food, housing and counseling services to area residents affected by HIV/AIDS. Vital Bridges has five food pantries in the Chicago area. The students who volunteer at the West Side location each week work as part of the HIV/AIDS Literacy Organization (HALO), Northwestern's student HIV prevention and education group.
"It's a really small group, so everyone there is important," said senior Larisa Burke, a HALO executive board member who coordinates volunteering for Vital Bridges. At Vital Bridges, HALO members may bag groceries, serve as the receptionist or sort through food and household items.
"[Northwestern students] are vital in helping us to provide the services we give to our clients," said Bertha Gonzalez, food program coordinator for Vital Bridges' West Chicago location. More than 420 volunteers work for Vital Bridges, she said, donating $750,000 of time and effort to the organization each year.
Since HALO's food pantry effort began in September, freshman Alex Pictor has helped out at Vital Bridges each Saturday. "I thought it would be a really interesting experience," he said. Since more still needs to be done about HIV/AIDS, Pictor said he thought he should help do whatever he could to assist. "I wanted to do something useful with my time." Burke said the students hope to interest others in joining their effort.
Daily Northwestern (Northwestern University, Chicago)
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.