This is Not a JOB, This is My Calling
Community Outreach Associate
The end-of-the-year holiday season is a time of recharging, reflection, and gratitude for many of us, including myself. As I think of all the things that I am grateful for this year, I always count my work with Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC). Many people feel trapped in work that provides a paycheck but nothing else. They find they have little opportunity to use the gifts or talents that they may possess. Thankfully, that’s not my experience. I go to work every day knowing that my opinions matter, my talents will be utilized, and my skill set will be enhanced. My father always said that “if you find work doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”, and for me working in public health is a true labor of love.
The most common mistake people make in choosing a career is working somewhere simply because they are good at it. I’m guilty of making that same mistake. I worked in retail for years, just because it was easy, and it took little to no effort. For example, think about the happiest times in your life while working. The times when you feel most fulfilled are better indicators of your calling than just knowing that you can complete a job task. You must have the ability, but that’s only one component. How do you relate to other people, projects, and ideas? Are you analytical and logical, or expressive and outgoing? Are you nurturing, supportive and encouraging or do you thrive when you are working on a project in isolation? There is no “right” or “wrong” here but understanding your unique greatness will help identify the best environment in which you will thrive. I know that I thrive in an expressive and outgoing space. My work must be innovative for me to feel productive, and our collective work at SAC allows me to use all my creativity.
This year at SAC was a busy one. In my department, we launched the Inaugural Southern AIDS Coalition COMPASS Community Advisory Council (SACCCAC). This advisory council offers guidance, insight, and responsive feedback to ensure that our programs at SAC are inclusive, culturally appropriate, and center the needs of communities most impacted by HIV and AIDS in the South. We also facilitated two of our training programs L.E.A.D. Academy, and Younity Workshop throughout the Southern United States. Personally, I was able to represent SAC at the United States Conference on HIV/AIDS (USCHA), the ViiV Community Summit, and the HIV Biomedical Prevention Summit. In media, I was able to represent SAC via NPR on the radio segment entitled “The state of AIDS on World AIDS Day”. I also represented SAC with VICE News on the segment, “The TikToker Who Is Smashing HIV Stigma”.
There are people that will leave this world never finding their purpose in life or their true calling. Thankfully, I have found mine working in public health and advocating alongside people living with HIV, and those most impacted by an HIV diagnosis. Cheers to another year of working at Southern AIDS Coalition!