Until last semester, the only University-sponsored community outreach service program dealing with AIDS and HIV issues began and ended in August, at the First-Year Student Outreach Project, where incoming freshmen spend a week volunteering with community groups in the Boston area. But since September, Project Hope — a new program at the University’s Community Service Center — has offered BU students the opportunity to volunteer year-round.
Founded by Anni Baker (CAS’06) and Loryn Heath (COM’07), Project Hope serves HIV and AIDS service centers around Boston and holds educational events on campus. Baker and Heath were impressed with last semester’s volunteer response, and this term they’re hoping to expand the program to several new service sites.
“I felt it was a need that a lot of people wanted to get involved with,” says Baker. “We were so excited to have such a good response. Now we’re hoping to increase awareness on campus, and we hope people will come to events and find new ways to volunteer.”
Project Hope volunteers are currently assigned to one of six sites: Boomerang’s, a resale store run through the AIDS Action Committee, whose proceeds all go to HIV/AIDS services; the Boston Living Center, a community resource center that provides job training and meals; Children’s AIDS Program, a day-care and after-school program for children affected by HIV or AIDS run through Boston Medical Center; Community Servings, which prepares and delivers meals to people homebound because of AIDS and other illnesses; the MALE Center, an AIDS Action resource for gay, bisexual, and questioning men; and Nutrition Works, a food pantry and nutrition center for those infected with HIV.
The volunteer work can range from sorting merchandise to mentoring HIV-positive children.
Project Hope has also organized several educational events on campus, most recently several film screenings and safe-sex discussion groups in conjunction with World AIDS Day in December.
Students do not need any experience to get involved, Baker says; they will work with peer leaders to discuss the different needs and issues that arise at each site.
Project Hope will be recruiting new volunteers at Community Service Center information sessions on Wednesday, January 25, and Thursday, January 26, at 7 p.m. in the Sargent Activities Center. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.