Community Service and Volunteerism
As the number of persons infected with HIV continues to increase, businesses, labor organizations, and communities can assume a critically important role in preventing cases of HIV, and can prepare to accommodate those living with HIV by offering and supporting HIV/AIDS programs in the workplace and in the community. Since every community is impacted, community efforts are key in the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the workforce.
HIV/AIDS continues to devastate individuals, families, and communities at the local, national and global level. Every business, labor union, and every community will be directly affected by this disease. Growing concern about increasing HIV incidence in some communities requires new strategies to control the spread of HIV in the United States. Since the needs of different communities vary widely, establishing and sustaining strong prevention collaborations among communities heavily affected by HIV presents a challenge.
- Philanthropic efforts: When a corporate leader publicly supports a philanthropic cause, he or she often makes it easier for others within the company, industry, and community to do the same. As more people get involved, there are greater resources to be directed at a wide range of social problems. Identify and support community efforts to prevent and treat HIV.
- Community impact with policy decisions: A community’s ability to work to offset the problems of HIV/AIDS is also affected by policy decisions made at the local, State, or national level. HIV/AIDS service organizations (and their clients) can be helped or hindered by community action or inaction. Learn more about policies and laws related to HIV that affect your community.
- International Business Impact: Companies with a strong international presence are in a position to transfer much of what has been learned in this country to other places. By supporting comprehensive workplace and community education programs, companies can have a major impact on how HIV and AIDS is perceived and prevented and the treatment of people living with it in the US and in the countries where they operate.
Individual employees (or groups of employees) can be a powerful tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Some of the most common approaches that individuals or groups of employees can employ to strengthen and involve the workplace in preventing HIV include:
- Volunteering: The types of work done by volunteers are as varied as the volunteers themselves. Individuals can make an impact by doing the following:
- Post fliers or brochures about agencies requesting volunteers in break rooms and common areas. This can be done with the agreement or buy-in of organizational management or your Human Resources Department representative.
- Invite organizations doing HIV prevention to present at your workplace and attend lunch and learn sessions for organizations that would like to send ambassadors into the workplace to talk about their programs and volunteer opportunities.
- Participate in corporate volunteer activities that not only provide needed resources to organizations, but also strengthen team building skills, boost morale and strengthen the organizations brand value (i.e., local AIDS walks and Meals on Wheels for those who are ill).
- Partnering has the important benefit of pooling resources of expertise, finances, manpower, infrastructure and several other resources, thereby expanding outreach and impact. Businesses can enter into public (State or local health departments and community health centers) or private partnerships (other businesses, non-profit organizations) to pursue any combination of the five components of the BRTA/LRTA program.
There are different types of partnering efforts that business and labor leaders can engage in to address and prevent HIV/AIDS:
- Public/private Partnerships (with State and local Health Departments; Community Health Centers and other public entities). The educational and training resources of State and Local government can be resources for the Education and Training components of the program.
- Private Partnerships (with other businesses, Non-Profit Organizations). Non-profit organizations have experience in advocacy and have credibility around social issues - this type of partnering can be useful for getting guidance to craft and establish policies and programs. Partnering with other businesses that are committed to addressing HIV will enable synergies for philanthropic activity like sponsoring events in the community where employees reside.
For more specific ideas about how you can identify needs, activities and organizations in your community, contact your local or state health department, AIDS service organizations, or other community-based organizations.