From the time President Kennedy introduced the Peace Corps while I was in high school in Rhode Island I wanted to someday be a volunteer.
But first I focused on earning my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Mexico, then time in the Air National Guard, followed by earning my master's degree and teaching credentials from California State University, Los Angeles. I then enjoyed a very happy and fulfilling career as a special education teacher in California and also found my Soulmate and Life Partner. Through all these years I expected that someday I would be a Peace Corps volunteer.
Then came the death of my Soulmate in an accident, from which I will never recover but to which I have slowly adjusted and accepted as Life; and then years spent happily taking care of my parents during their final years. Now it was time for me to fulfill my Peace Corps dream but this was also when I discovered I had aids.
I came close enough to death to learn that the moment of my death would be totally serene and peaceful no matter how many earthly dreams had not come to fruition -- a gift that brings me peace every day. Wonderful doctors and their staffs, aids researchers and their medications have given me more time. I was now close to 60 years old but once again healthy, strong and ready for the Peace Corps -- but they did not want me because I was hiv positive.
Local volunteering would have to fulfill me -- but then in 2011 on Poz.com I read about an exciting, never before attempted new vision of an international volunteer organization being started by an incredible hiv-positive man named Carlton Rounds which was specifically looking for people with hiv/aids to do volunteer work with international communities affected by hiv/aids.
It is now January 2012, and at the vibrant age of 65 I am proudly serving with the inaugural Volunteer Positive endeavor in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
From Bill: I never capitalize aids or hiv; I do not want to give them any special power. What I do capitalize is Love.