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Community

Jorge Zepeda, our Director of Latinx Health reflects on his time as a volunteer at SFAF

Jorge started volunteering at the foundation after losing many close friends to AIDS. "The desire to help the community ran through our bodies like electric energy wanting to escape through our pores," he said.

Jorge Zepeda, nuestro director de Salud para la comunidad Latina hace una reflexión de cuando era un voluntario de la Fundación en Contra del SIDA de San Francisco [Spanish]

My familiarity AIDS dates back to the late 1980s when I was living in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco. My closest circle of friends included a gay couple, and other members of the LGBTQ community. Many people I knew got sick and died from AIDS. I spent a lot of time visiting friends at San Francisco General Hospital, and sadly many of my friends ended up dying.

It was a difficult, emotional time for everyone. The desire to help the community ran through our bodies like electric energy wanting to escape through our pores. We wanted to step up and help our community. Everyone I knew had lost at least one person to AIDS.

I ended up being connected to teams of Latinos who worked or volunteered at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I started my volunteer experience doing everything from distributing office supplies, to making photocopies, to creating educational newsletters in Spanish, to answering calls from the HIV/AIDS hotline in Spanish.  Much of what we needed to do, was to make information only available in English about HIV and AIDS accessible to Spanish-speaking communities. This effort has turned into a mission that I continue to do to this day, as the director of Latinx Health at SFAF.

Volunteering is crucial to the Latinx community.  There are so many talented individuals in the Latinx community who can contribute to change, so that we can live in a better, more just society.  Don’t close the door on people who don’t look like you, who may be different, and may speak a different language than you. We all have something important to give.

Volunteers are a vital part of how positive changes in our community are created. Volunteering expands your understanding and your heart. That was true then and is still true now.