LIFTING BURDENS: UGA HEROS
Georgia - Alpha Beta
By Jacob Awad, '13 Feb 29, 2016
Because of ATO, I joined a campus organization called UGA HEROs, which provides quality-of-life programs for children in Georgia that are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Georgia has more than 12,000 cases of reported pediatric and adolescent HIV/AIDS and a fourth of the children in the H.E.R.O. program have lost a parent to HIV or AIDS-related complications. Not only does the illness affect their lives in some capacity, but 96 percent of the children’s families also have a household income of just $10,000 or less.
The HEROs kids are amazing. My hardships will never compare to what these children go through on a daily basis. There is very little compassion for these children because of the stigma in society that comes with having HIV or AIDS, even though that card was dealt to them by no fault of their own. I will never be able to feel what these kids do growing up, but I hope that through my efforts I can lift some of that burden off of their shoulders and improve their lives in whatever way possible.
This year, I am serving on the executive board for UGA HEROs as the Director of HPR (HEROs Philanthropist Relations). As director I oversee, mentor, encourage and assist five executive board members in leading their own committees and teams to develop, motivate, and inspire more than 2,000 new HEROS members in the fall. I am passionate about HEROs because not only are we bringing awareness to the reality of pediatric HIV and AIDS, but we are constantly fighting the stigma and social injustice that comes with it too.
The money that we fundraise in UGA HEROs provides funding for several H.E.R.O. Children programs which include: The SuperHEROes Mentoring Program, The Reading HEROs Program, and Camp High Five which is a week-long summer camp. UGA HEROs also hosts events in which we take children to football and basketball games and try to give them exposure to “normal” childhood experiences and activities.
Before I was initiated into ATO, I knew that I wanted to get involved and serve not only in the fraternity, but also in other campus organizations. ATO not only gave me a group of friends that I could always depend on throughout my collegiate career, but it gave me the opportunity to be introduced to other organizations that brothers were involved with on campus. I am grateful that through ATO I discovered HEROs.