Friend’s diagnosis sparked determination to contribute to non-profit organization
On any given day, Roseline Carter stands within a jumble of activity at the non-profit organization AIDS Calgary Awareness Association.
Among the daily tasks of supporting, counseling and working with those who are HIV positive, Carter was also adamantly involved with the preparations of this year’s World AIDS Day celebrations, which took place Dec. 1.
“I have always had a rooted passion with the issues around HIV because of the people it affects,” said Carter, who completed the social work program at Mount Royal University six years ago and has been working at AIDS Calgary ever since.
“Most people living with HIV are already vulnerable and marginalized.”
Carter said her interest in the issue of AIDS really peaked when she saw a number of her friends put themselves in high-risk situations during high school.
“During my first year of university one of my friends was diagnosed with HIV,” she said. “This was the final push for me to seek out an organization such as AIDS Calgary.
“HIV is a really unique issue,” Carter added. “It carries a social stigma unlike any other disease.”
Carter said that AIDS doesn’t discriminate — everyone can come into contact with it.
“Anyone is capable of engaging in a high-risk activity that puts [themselves] at risk,” she said. “I do believe it is an issue that touches everyone.”
Carter said that her most satisfying moments include working with recently diagnosed HIV positive clients:
“Just being able to help with the component of what it means to be HIV positive and dispel some of their fears is worth it.”
AIDS Calgary attracts a significant number of volunteers each year, said Carter.
“The days you come in tired and don’t want to keep fighting on this issue is the day someone walks in and rejuvenates you,” she said. “Knowing you have created allies along the way is something I will always value.
“We attract the some of the most passionate, talented, diverse, enthusiastic individuals.”
Currently, AIDS Calgary has more than 25 volunteer positions available. Carter said that anything from direct client work to handing out condoms at bars is needed.
“Volunteering is a huge way we engage the community,” she said.
Mark Randall, a fellow colleague at AIDS Calgary, has been working with Carter for the past three years.
“She is one of the most inspiring, positive and committed individuals you can find for this cause,” he said.
Most recently, Randall and Carter have been working on a social marketing project called HEAT, a program for homosexual men.
“We have implemented a survey to ask Calgarians what kind of marketing campaign works and doesn’t work to advocate safer sex and condom use to this group,” Randall said.
“The community has really jumped on board in terms of feedback. The survey we sent out boasted over 200 responses; initially we thought only about 50 people would respond.”
Capri Rasmusen, a supervisor at AIDS Calgary, said, “Roseline’s drive and passion comes through in the genuine care and concern she has for our clients.
“She takes a human rights approach to this issue and always thinks about how different initiatives would impact the people we serve.”
This year, World AIDS Day recognized the 30th anniversary of promoting AIDS awareness.
“We’ve saved a lot of lives in this fight, but at the same time we’ve lost many that deserve to be remembered,” Carter said.
“The 30th anniversary really marks how much has changed since 1981, and shows the amount of support we now have,” she added.