When clients drop in at our Syringe Access Services site at 6th & Mission streets, they know they can access safer injection supplies, testing services and snacks. They also know they are respected and cared for, thanks to a long-time San Francisco AIDS Foundation volunteer, Lenore.
This International Volunteer’s Day, December 5, we pay tribute to Lenore, who works at the Syringe Access Service (SAS) center at 117 6th Street, and also as a front-desk receptionist at the foundation’s headquarters on Market Street.
For eight years, the unassuming, laid-back former clinical data manager has been the primary point of contact for many clients, offering safer drug use supplies along with a laugh and a kind word. She says encouraging people to be healthy starts with respect.
“I really believe in the harm reduction aspect of the work here. It’s really very important and I like the way people are treated with respect here,” Lenore said.
With a career in clinical data, Lenore said she has always had an interest in public health. Her first experience was in the late 1960s, as part of the Peace Corps, when she worked on a smallpox eradication project with the World Health Organization in Afghanistan.
Pauli Gray, SAS logistics co-ordinator, said Lenore has a “fan club” of clients who love to see her when they visit.
“She works the supply table so gives out all the supplies with unerring kindness and understanding,” he said.
“She always listens to each and every one … They want everything from help with their issues to just someone to listen; and they keep coming back because they’ve come to the right place and they love her.”
Donna Velasco, receptionist for the foundation’s Market Street site, said Lenore is well-liked and respected by peers and clients because she genuinely cares about people.
“Lenore is committed to making our community a better place with the sacrifice of her time and efforts. I’m excited to see her recognized for her years of loyal service and dedication to our cause and I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”
When asked why she chose to donate her time to the foundation over any other organization, Lenore said she felt the volunteer program valued her skills and that she liked the fact that foundation staff treated clients respectfully.
“It’s a great program because it’s structured. It’s easy to give back.”
This International Volunteer’s Day, we give thanks to Lenore and our entire corps of volunteers. We couldn’t do this without you.
If you’d like to become a San Francisco AIDS Foundation volunteer, please visit our opportunities page for more information: http://sfaf.org/get-involved/volunteer/
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