Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle, WA, is just one of the many AIDS Service Organizations throughout the country bettering the lives of its clients each and every day. We had the opportunity to interview one client, Jeffrey Smith, about the life-saving services of Lifelong AIDS Alliance.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you end up in Seattle, Washington? What are some of your hobbies? What’s something you would like us to know about you?
A: I’m originally from Charleston, S.C. In 1987 a friend who I met while he was in the Navy (stationed in Charleston) returned to his home here in Seattle (Tacoma, actually). He became ill, and I moved out here to be with him. It was my first funeral. I fell in love with Seattle and never left. I love film and theater, thrift-store shopping, and decorating with mid-century modern.
Q: How long have you been a client with Lifelong AIDS Alliance?
A: I became a client in October of 2000 when the agency was known as the Northwest AIDS Foundation.
Q: What are some of the services that you receive from Lifelong AIDS Alliance?
A: I was terribly ill when I sought help. I’ve used just about every service available – emergency fund, housing advocate, transportation, meal and grocery delivery and pick-up, case management, will-call, etc.
Q: What motivated you to seek the services of Lifelong AIDS Alliance?
A: My life, as I knew it, was in danger of coming to an end. The agency did everything to put me back on a track to normalcy.
Q: Do you volunteer or participate at fundraisers like Dining Out for Life or the HIV/AIDS Walk?
A: Yes – I have been a kitchen/warehouse volunteer for five years. I also assist with the will-call program and volunteer at special events.
Q: How has HIV/AIDS personally affected you?
A: I have lost too many friends and acquaintances to count – that, combined with my own brush with death, I would say affected me quite profoundly.
Q: How have you seen Lifelong AIDS Alliance help other clients?
A: I have seen an impact on the quality of life in a very positive way – from counseling and case management (dealing with bureaucracy), grocery and meals, even entertainment.
Q: How is HIV/AIDS awareness received in Seattle? Do you think the community is well educated about the disease, or would you like to see more education throughout the city?
A: Seattle is pretty progressive. I would like to think the community is fairly well-educated, but it could just be the circles I’m in. I suppose there is always room for improvement.
Q: Dining Out for Life is a great fundraiser that contributes directly to Lifelong AIDS Alliance. What would you say to the people of Seattle to encourage them to participate in the event?
A: We all have to eat. Dining out might just be for special occasions, but why not, if you can, choose a restaurant with a social conscience that gives back to the community.
Q: Tell us how Lifelong AIDS Alliance has impacted your life. If you can, please give an example of how or when they helped you, or the service or treatment you appreciate the most.
A: In the last (almost) 12 years, I have been on the receiving end of so much assistance and genuine care it is hard to list them all. What strikes me is the wonderful, caring, giving attitude and positive encouragement. I am really glad that by volunteering for the last five years I have been able to give something back.
The 19th annual Dining Out for Life in Seattle, WA, will be on April 26, and all proceeds donated will go directly to Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the organization that is helping Jeffrey Smith, and countless others, in the fight against HIV/AIDS.