Just like many of you, my love for pit bulls and my desire to spread pit bull awareness, is just one of my passions in life. I’d like to use today’s post to talk about something a little different, and the doggies will take part, too. But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to dedicate today’s post in honor of World AIDS Day, which happens to be today.
Nearly 16 years ago, I began volunteering for a not for profit organization in New York City called Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I worked my way up through the ranks of the organization, from volunteer, to intern, to part time staff member. Now, I am a full time staff member, and have been going on 6 years. BC/EFA is one of the nation’s leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant making organizations. With the help of New York’s large theater and Broadway community, we raise millions of dollars each year and send that money back out across the country in the form of grants to AIDS Service & Family Service organizations. Another major event we help produce each year is Broadway Barks, an annual dog & cat adoption event here in heart of Times Square.
This past year, we sent out nearly $5 million to organizations in 48 states. Our reach extends to hundreds of thousands of people each year, and even goes as far as the United Kingdom & South Africa. We also dedicate targeted funds to help communities recover from unexpected natural disasters (like the ones we witnessed in Joplin, MO, and Japan).
World AIDS Day is hugely important to me. Every December 1, the world is presented with “an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.” About the same time I began as a BC/EFA volunteer, a good family friend rapidly deteriorated from AIDS and passed away. I now have many friends who live with HIV. Globally, it is estimated that over 33 million people are living with HIV, and another 25 million have already lost their lives to this disease.
But despite all the facts, statistics, research, and legislation, there are still many people in our country who don’t know how to best protect themselves from contracting HIV and even more whom discriminate against and stigmatize those people who do have HIV or AIDS.
So what can you do on this World AIDS Day? Well, you should learn the facts. There are countless resources out there for you to do so (and I don’t just mean WebMD). Check out the World AIDS Day website, or Broadway Cares’ website. Use what you know best (your dogs!) to help further educate and spread awareness that HIV/AIDS is not gone – and there are lots of people out there who need our help.
Lastly, make a donation to a worthwhile organization whose mission is directly related to HIV/AIDS services. There are organizations like this in every community who would genuinely appreciate your help. If you would like to find one near you, please search Broadway Cares’ list of national grantees.
Many of these organizations provide comprehensive benefits for companion animals for HIV/AIDS patients. Lots of people living with HIV or AIDS become homebound, making a companion animal not only desirable, but in some cases, necessary. Here are just a few of those organizations:
Not Home Alone in New York, NY
PAWS/LA in Los Angeles, CA
PAWS San Diego in San Diego, CA
Pets Are Loving Support in Atlanta, GA
Pets Are Loving Support (PALS) in Guerneville, CA
Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) in San Francisco, CA
The Pet Project for Pets in Oakland Park, FL
If you need help finding a worthwhile organization to support today, send us an email and we will happily help you find one!