Volunteers – The Backbone of AFTCP15

Photo of the AIDS Quilt at last year's Art for the Cash Poor.

Photo of the AIDS Quilt at last year’s Art for the Cash Poor.

At last year’s Art for the Cash Poor Preview Party, we raised $1,000 in support of AIDS Fund. But a large part of our success was due to the dedicated efforts of our volunteers, whose loyalty year after year helped InLiquid reach its fifteenth anniversary. We took a few minutes to speak with Howard Traivers, one such volunteer whose been working with organizations like AIDS Fund and InLiquid for over a decade. He offers his thoughts on what it takes to be part of a community effort.

Can you start out by telling me a bit about yourself?

I’ve regularly volunteered for the past 15 years (or more). Some of the places I’ve volunteered for include; Catholic Social Services, Manna of Philadelphia (since Jan. 0f 2010), Salvation Army, Philadelphia Aids Fund (since about 2006), Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (approx. 14 years), various churches and many other charities and organizations.

You’ve volunteered for events with AIDS Fund in the past. How did you first get involved with helping out?

I began just helping with the Aids Walk. Then one year John Hollingshead, who worked for the Aids Fund at the time, asked if I could help them with Gay Bingo. At first, I was vey hesitant and nervous, not knowing what to expect or if I would fit in. But, from the first time I helped, all the staff, the Executive Director (Robb Reichard), and the other volunteers helped make it a most fulfilling experience!

Your dedication to helping their cause is inspiring! What is it about the mission of AIDS Fund that you think makes it important for people to continue to support?

Because there are so many people who do not know their status or simply do not have access to the proper healthcare/drugs to prolong their lives. Personally, I had one friend who died from aids complications. As things went, it was ten years before I found out he had passed away. So many feel they have to hide when they become ill with this sickness instead of embracing others for support.

You worked with InLiquid on last year’s preview party for Art for the Cash Poor. What was your impression of the event?

Rain!!! [Ed. Note: Last year’s AFTCP was welcomed with a deluge that tried to crash its way into the party – literally through the back doors.] No seriously, it gave me a chance to meet and help many other people I would have never known or met. I really enjoyed the entire experience!

What is the best advice you could give someone looking to get more involved – whether with helping out AIDS Fund or volunteering in general?

If you have a true passion for helping others, do not let what some people think or say distract you from pursuing that passion! I’ve had many organizations not accept me or even give me a chance to do the thing I love; namely be a help and asset to other people. But! I just went on to the next organization and found the experience I longed to be involved in. Never lose hope! Someone will see you for who you really are and accept the many skills that you have to offer.

Join us for Art for the Cash Poor 15, June 14 – 15, noon – 6 pm at Crane Arts. Or buy tickets to the preview party benefiting AIDS Fund, June 13, 5:30 – 9 pm.

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