By Kayla Ihrig, AmeriCorps member serving the American Red Cross NW Region
In honor of World AIDS Day we spoke with a Red Crosser who spends every Saturday morning serving the LGBTQ community.
Justin Hewitt is the Northwest Regional Disaster Workforce Program Support Manager. He coordinates training events, disaster deployments and staff support from Monday through Friday at the Red Cross Seattle office. Then, on Saturday mornings he prepares meals for clients of the Life Long AIDS Alliance (Life Long).
“I wanted to do something that made me feel helpful, and gave back to the LGBTQ community,” Hewitt said. “I just put on my hat and get to work, I don’t need to be in charge.”
Hewitt describes Life Long as being, “like meals on wheels with an LGBTQ focus.” Many Life Long clients are LGBTQ seniors and people who are HIV positive. He helps prepare meals for distribution, and explained that preparing food is a great opportunity to get to know other volunteers. Hewitt has met people from all walks of life through his volunteer work with Life Long.
“There’s a mix, from high school students to the elderly. I even met someone who grew up really close to my home town in Alabama,” he added. “I really like the camaraderie of the group, they have their mission and goals, which I believe in and this creates a close bond.”
Justin has been with the Red Cross since 2011 when his town in Alabama was destroyed by a tornado. Hewitt has served with the Red Cross in Alabama, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington on deployments.
Now settled in his community in Seattle, Hewitt said that he “was searching for the right place, and Washington felt right.”
Hewitt recommends that you get connected in your community. “Every week it’s something different, “he added. “Volunteering is very much worth my time”