Joining EPIC (Empath Partners in Care) renewed comfort and purpose for Tim Drew. During STD Awareness Month in April, he talks about HIV and how he stays healthy and happy with the organization’s support and his volunteer service helping others like himself.
“When I moved here I was directed by my doctor to EPIC. The program helps me so I like to give back. I enjoy everything I do and all the people,” explained Tim.
His longtime history of volunteering includes The Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo and various other service in Chicago. At our EPIC St. Petersburg office, his primary focus is the welcome desk and he has also assisted with the food and personal needs pantry and other projects. He takes pride in creating a warm, safe and supportive environment for clients who come in for services.
“I know what everyone’s going through. I can be compassionate and understanding. If people come in with anxiety, I can help diffuse difficult situations,” he said.
From time to time, he also enjoys having fun in the office.
He shared, “I like dressing up. If I can get a smile out of one person, it makes me happy. These guys are like my second family. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to volunteer for.”
Living with HIV
HIV still warrants attention and sensitivity, he says.
“It’s sad to see younger kids becoming infected because there’s all of this information and education available. It’s like it has been swept under the rug, but it’s not going away for a while. You don’t want this illness.”
He sees the stigma continue.
“A lot of people still have that stigma. A lot of people can feel isolated. There’s no need to be ashamed. I’m not ashamed. It’s something I learn to live with and it doesn’t get me down.”
It’s important to stay connected to care and services, he added.
“People with HIV need mental support and to stay on their regimen every day. At EPIC, we provide medical and housing assistance, pantries, mental health counseling, support groups and more. Our women’s support groups are growing and bring camaraderie.
EPIC’s compassion, care and support are his inspiration.
“There’s something new every day. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that I’m doing something worthwhile and not just for myself. I’d be here every day of the week if they needed me.”
Dine Out – Support Services!
Volunteer – Change Lives!