I am no longer employed at the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP). I started working there in January of 1998, the 12th I believe, and my last date of employment was March 2, 2008. I know, to some, that is no big deal. But, to me, it was a fairly big accomplishment.
MAP is an AIDS Service Organization (ASO) for the State of Minnesota, but technically, does work that impacts on a National and, even, World level at times. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is still a disease that impacts all of us and yet is vastly mis-understood by the majority.
Rather than attempting to educate my readers now – I would suggest going to MAP’s website, linked on mine for your convenience. I will say that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is NOT, I repeat, NOT, transmitted through casual contact. This means of course that you can still hug, kiss, share drinking glasses and utensils, etc. with anyone and not have to be concerned with contracting HIV. I would also direct you to MAP’s website to get information on how it actually is transmitted and how to protect yourself if engaging in risky behavior.
My head has been swimming for days now with memories of clients, co-workers, others in the field, changes in the disease, and changes in me. I was blessed with countless co-workers in my time at MAP, each brilliant in playing their part in addressing the needs around HIV. Many too were instrumental in my growth both professionally and personally. I am blessed to have made numerous wonderful friends during my time at MAP as well.
I worked really closely with a number of clients in my first position, as an HIV Case Manager, at MAP. A few of my clients from back then have ended up working at MAP in time. Those are some special folks who have had a wonderful impact on me over the years. Some of those clients I continued to have contact with, albeit more indirectly, when I moved into management positions at MAP. I would see them in the lobby or parking lot. I would be called to the front desk to assist them. I supervised their subsequent Case Managers and heard updates on how they were doing, sometimes assisting in how to be most helpful to them. Probably the most profound client contact was being impacted by some of their deaths. I had a long period of time when a client of mine died nearly every two months. The rate slowed down in my time at MAP, both because of the advances in treatment for HIV and because I no longer had my own caseload of new clients when I became a manager. I was present during death, I attended many wakes and funerals, I was startled to learn after the fact sometimes, I was super close to some of them and barely knew some of them. Some impacted me more than others to be sure. But I send a regular prayer out to all of them as they touched my life and who I am today, each and every one of them.
Speaking of changes in the disease… back in the day… before “it” was even called AIDS… folks were dying and dying fast… And then “they” figured out more about the disease and made attempts at a “cure”. Eventually, more medicines and specific combinations of such drugs, have allowed people who are infected with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. Simultaneously with better treatment (Western Medicine I am speaking of here); we learned more and more about the prevention of this virus. The numbers of newly infected individuals has remained fairly steady in Minnesota, rather than rising still, thanks in part to the hard work of MAP employees. The death rates certainly slowed down at MAP in the decade that I was employed there. This too is in thanks to the work of MAP employees assisting clients in accessing health care. MAP rocks. They work hard and make a serious impact in a number of ways, making the world a better place. I am honored to have been a part of the MAP legacy.
I was technically hired as a temp employee at MAP. Within two months I was hired officially. I would never have imagined then that I would be working there for ten years. I think I have been “trying” to leave for years now, feeling the stress of the difficult work and the pull of wanting to move forward to bigger challenges. I could never get myself to agree to leave though, or even look for something else.
Until I woke up one morning having a dream about a new job, a specific job, and going to a training later that very same morning and running in the person’s who’s job I had dreamt about – she had resigned but was at that time still doing it. I will spare you the time and details in between that dream and the next step now… Now that I have officially left MAP… And prepare to move on to the next agency of adventure and do-gooding…