A Fulfilled Life through Volunteering at ALRP

In 2006, Cathy Blackstone had her hands full at work, but it wasn’t enough to keep her satisfied. She wanted to volunteer in her spare time, and she wanted to make a difference with an organization that served the LGBT community and advanced civil rights. When she went online and started looking for opportunities to serve on a nonprofit board, ALRP became the beneficiary of her boundless energy.

“I wanted to volunteer because I wanted a more balanced and fulfilling life,” she said. “And I realized that the more you give, the more you get back. Volunteering makes your life fuller.” During her search, ALRP’s name came up. “I’ve known a couple of people who have been HIV positive and I’ve lost one friend to AIDS,” she said. “I decided to approach ALRP. And I have been totally amazed at this organization. I’m just in awe of the staff attorneys’ dedication and commitment. They could go anywhere and make more money, and they choose to stay at ALRP and serve people with HIV.”

Cathy is currently the only non-attorney on the ALRP board. (While non-attorneys are welcome on the board, they tend to be rare and special!) She is a senior compliance consultant with Kaiser Permanente, which represents a recent career departure. Although she has worked for many years in the health care field, her area of expertise has always been in contracting, which she’d enjoyed. She even considered attending law school, but decided that compliance work would be a better fit. It allows her to be involved in legal issues while staying involved in health care.

Although this is the first board Cathy has served on, she says she gets the sense “it’s not your typical board” due to the commitment and involvement of the board members.  She’s a great example of that commitment. Cathy has been involved with ALRP fundraising events, collected auction items, taken staff photos, secured event sponsorships and major donor gifts, worked on strategic planning efforts, and made calls to thank donors and pro bono attorneys. “Making the thank-you calls has been really nice,” she said. “People usually tell me I’ve made their day. They really appreciate being acknowledged and thank me for doing it.

Cathy chose to join the board because she wanted to feel more vested in ALRP than she had in her previous volunteer experiences. “I wanted to feel more committed than just showing up for a volunteer event for three hours on a Saturday,” she said. “And it’s been a great experience. ALRP is making a huge difference in the lives of so many. The number of people that call for help is tremendous. There are so many people who are being discriminated against because they have HIV or AIDS. There’s still a great need for our services.”

Published June 2012