For the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's Associate Board, a leadership group for people ages 21-35 who want to make an impact on health equity in Chicago, the word of the year for 2016 was IMPACT. Together, this group of young professionals from across Chicago amplified their work and lived into AFC's mission through a variety of efforts.
"My favorite aspects of being involved with the Associate Board are the direct service opportunities we engage and advocating in Springfield for Advocacy Day," said Jasmine Tucker, Associate Board co-chair. "It's always great to be around people with like interests and passions and AFC is truly a great community to be a part of." Since she and fellow co-chair Kevin Moore accepted their leadership roles in 2015, they have motivated their colleagues to work harder than ever to inspire AFC and take community leadership into their own hands.
"Perhaps the greatest asset of the Associate Board has been our ability to empower and mobilize a diverse group of young people to effect meaningful impact on the city of Chicago," added Moore. “We remain committed — now more than ever in our current political climate — to meet the needs of our communities with the dignity, integrity and service that they deserve.”
Here are three ways the Associate Board made a lasting impact on people living with HIV and health inequities in 2016. To learn more about their successes, check out their Impact Report.
The Associate Board stepped up its volunteerism in 2016, supporting members of the HIV community face-to-face. Several members of the group prepared and served lunch to residents at Bonaventure House, an HIV housing center managed by Alexian Brothers Housing & Health Alliance. They also helped AFC clients shop for groceries at the Vital Bridges Food Pantry, a Heartland Health Outreach program that serves people living with HIV who earn less than $14,000 per year.
Other volunteer efforts that the Associate Board rallied around include AFC's Advocacy Days, Dance for Life, World of Chocolate, AIDS Run & Walk Chicago's Ambassador Committee, and the TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) endurance training program.
Giving back to the HIV community doesn't stop at direct service. The Associate Board also made contributions of dollars and in-kind donations. One of the group's proudest achievements includes their AIDS Run & Walk Chicago fundraising efforts: They more than tripled their fundraising goal for their team, raising a whopping $3,720 to support AFC's work to build health equity and justice! The Associate Board also supported the Broadway Youth Center's supply drive this past winter, collecting more than $800 worth of personal hygiene products and gift cards to local pharmacies.
In the last five months of 2016 alone, the Associate Board increased their ranks to nineteen members. The Associate Board also decided to grow their leadership team this year, building out positions for treasurer and secretary as well as roles to support membership and PR/social media needs.
Membership growth wasn't the only upswing the group saw this year; their Facebook follower count has seen a 9% increase since August 2016, thanks to new strategies meant to celebrate the board's community activities.