I recently spoke with Rev. Dr. Carolyn McClendon, director of Faith Ministries, at Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina.
Carolyn has been with the Alliance of AIDS Services for 14 years, but she has been ministering to HIV/AIDS patients most of her adult life.Carolyn is a staff of one, so she is extremely busy.
Just this week, she spent all of 1 day in meetings, lost 3 patients, and was waiting on a call concerning 2 other patients at the end stage of their disease . . . and that is just the activities that I know about.
She was most gracious to take the time to talk to me about her ministry.
She loves what she does and believes it is what God has called her to do.
Carolyn's organization believes HIV/AIDS is not a divine punishment, but is a part of the mystery of living, like any other illness.
Carolyn tells me there is still a lot of fear and lack of education among people concerning HIV/AIDS.
Many people still believe that you can contract AIDS by casual contact.
Carolyn says, "If HIV/AIDS was viewed as a health issue instead of a judgment, we would treat them differently."
We talked about what churches can do to help minister to those with HIV/AIDS.
She says, "People need to look beyond color and status and represent a God Who loves all people.
Carolyn says, "Care teams are a major part of what we do.
Currently, we have 40 care teams that minister to 60 care partners.
The teams are trained to partner with someone who is living with the virus to empower that person to find a safe and sacred space.
These care teams are from organizations of faith.
Carolyn has a waiting list of people with the virus who are waiting for a care team.
Carolyn needs more permanent staff to help with the ministry, but as with a lot of organizations in this economy, the funds simply are not available.
She could not do all that needs to be done without the help of volunteers, churches, interns, chaplains, and communities of faith.
One of the churches who partners with Carolyn and the Faith Ministry Program started a program called "change for change.
This program collects change to buy bus tickets for those with HIV/AIDS who need assistance.
Needs are met by donations of food, clothing, and other items.
The recipients of the bus tickets and other items are told that the gift is from God through a faith community.
Carolyn is passionate about helping people with HIV/AIDS and prays that others will move beyond the stigmas associated with the disease and show compassion to people living with the disease.
Carolyn says, "Wherever they are today, we move forward to let them know a God who loves them."
Carolyn McClendon, Director of Faith Ministries for the Alliance, told us that when the "Ryan White Funds" had to put cost-saving cuts in their budgets a few years ago, they eliminated the funds that the Alliance used to help people living with HIV and AIDS get to important places.
The funding is still available to travel to established doctors' appointments but not anywhere else.
"The money you collect each month helps us fill that gap," Carolyn said.
"When our clients tell us they need a bus ticket to go somewhere important - like getting home after grocery shopping, to job interviews, and whatever they need to do, we now can help them.
A client told us recently that he needed twelve tickets to get to dialysis even though his patient intake process was not complete.
We were able to help him."
"When I give away these tickets," Carolyn said, "I am sure to tell them that they are possible through the contributions of St. John's MCC.
While most of the bus passes are for rides within Wake County, we have even provided some TTA tickets to get to regional hospitals in Durham and Chapel."
"Both our clients and staff feel so affirmed when we can give these bus tickets.
The process of giving the tickets to people helps me establish a special relationship to people who need our care.
A day bus pass costs only two dollars.
We help that many people," Carolyn said, passionately.
The Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina | July 2008 Issue
Contact: Rev. Carolyn McClendon, Director of Faith Ministries
919.212.9450The Alliance's Faith Ministry Program, in partnership with the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch, will again bring 20 panels of The Names Project—The AIDS Memorial Quilt to Raleigh in observance of World AIDS Day 2008. The AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on public display beginning December 1 at Temple Beth Or, 5315 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh, where the opening ceremony and the World AIDS Day Interfaith Worship Service will also be held. If you would like to request a specific panel to be included during this showing, please submit the name and panel number to Carolyn McClendon, Faith Ministry Program Director, or contact her by phone at 919.212.9450.
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