Spring 2014 Volunteer Training

We are looking for dedicated, empathetic volunteers to support the goals and mission of HIPS in myriad ways, including on our Outreach Van, Hotline, through fundraising efforts, and even administrative work. Volunteers are integral to the work of HIPS! All of the training details are below. Your completed volunteer application reserves your spot in our orientation.


How to Become a HIPS Volunteer 101:

1. Fill out our online application. Your completed application reserves you a spot in the orientation.

2. Come to Orientation! This is required for everyone who wants to volunteer, and is a great chance for you to meet us and find out more about the organization and harm reduction! Ideally, this orientation will help you decide if you want to commit to volunteering at HIPS, and which volunteer roles you're interested in.

PLEASE NOTE: There are no make-up sessions for our orientation! If you cannot attend this orientation, we'll keep you on the sign-up list for the Summer 2014 Volunteer Orientation.

3. Interview with the outreach team! Unfortunately, our trainings have limited spots. We want to meet you and make sure you'd be a good fit (and that we're a good fit for you). We hold trainings three times per year, and you can definitely interview more than once for the volunteer roles you want!

4. Attend all sessions of training for the volunteer position(s) you're interested in! 


Dates, Times, and Details:


Saturday, February 8: HIPS Volunteer Orientation

When? 12-4pm

Where? The HIPS Office! 1309 Rhode Island Avenue NE (Basement) Washington, DC 20018

What? This orientation is a mandatory prerequisite for all other volunteer trainings. It is also a great opportunity for community members, service providers, activists, students and everyone to learn more about Sex Work and Harm Reduction 101!.

Led by:  Cyndee Clay (Executive Director) and Elizabeth Saracco (Director of Programs) 


February 9-13: Volunteer Interviews

When? Afternoon and evening slots; sign-ups will be available at (and after) orientation

Where? details TBA!

Why? It's really important to us to find people who are a good fit for the work, the organization, and the amazing clients we serve. Unfortunately, we also have limited space in our training groups! The interviews will be casual, held at a local coffee shop or at the HIPS office, and are also a great time to ask questions to current volunteers and staff. We're so thankful for your willingness to go through this process! 


February 22- March 5: Direct Service Training

When?  Sat 2/22 (12-5pm), Monday 2/24, Wednesday 2/26, Saturday 3/1 (12-5pm), Monday 3/3, Wednesday 3/5 (all Mon/Wednesday sessions are from 6-9pm. All 6 sessions are required)

Where? HIPS Office again! 1309 Rhode Island Avenue NE (Basement) Washington, DC 20018

Who? This training is mandatory for all outreach & hotline volunteers.

What? We'll dive into conversations about the complex issues we encounter in direct service work, our own privilege as service providers, and give y'all some great harm reductionist tools for counseling clients about safer sex, drug use, violence, etc.

Led by:  Catherine Paquette (Mobile Services Manager) and the Outreach Team


March 10 & 12: HIPS Hotline Training

When? Monday 3/10 and Wednesday 3/12 from 6-9pm (both sessions required)

Where? The HIPS Office! 1309 Rhode Island Avenue NE (Basement) Washington, DC 20018

Who? This training is mandatory for all outreach & hotline volunteers.

What? Hotline volunteers are the backbone of this 24-hour support service. It's the one way that the love, care, and support offered by HIPS will always be accessible to our clients, no matter what time of day or night! On this low-volume hotline, trained volunteers offer micro-counseling, referrals, information, and a listening ear to anyone who needs it. The hotline also connects our sex work clients to HIPS Crisis Response Services in instances of assault and crisis.  

Led by:  Catherine Paquette and the Outreach Team  


March 17 & 19: HIPS Mobile Services Van Training

When? Monday 3/17 and Wednesday 3/19 from 6-9pm (both sessions required)

Where? HIPS Office! 1309 Rhode Island Avenue NE (Basement) Washington, DC 20018

What? This training is for all folks who will be volunteering on the HIPS Outreach Van, which does street-based outreach, needle exchange and harm reduction counseling around DC from 11 P.M. - 5 A.M. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during the day throughout the week. Volunteers are the heart and soul of our programming and together donate 84 hours of outreach each week! Opportunities to volunteer in the office are also available. 

Led by:  Catherine Paquette and the Outreach Team  


NOTE:  After your interview, the outreach team will do our best to determine if your strengths and experience make you a good fit for any of our volunteer positions. We may invite you to attend one or more of the trainings offered. You are required to attend all training sessions for the positions you accept.

We're excited to read through your applications and meet you at orientation! Thank you for your enthusiasm and desire to donate your valuable time.

Please contact the Mobile Services Department with any questions: hips.outreach@gmail.com

Before Midnight!

           There a just a few more hours left in 2013.  Like many people, HIPS is taking some time to review our accomplishments and prepare for the year to come. If you haven't yet - I hope you'll take the few minutes and make a end of the year donation to help us in achieving our goals for 2014.  It doesn't matter if you can give $20 or $200.  But we hope that you'll join us in making DC a safer and healthier community. 

            In 2013, HIPS created change.  Not just in our client's individual lives, but in the lives of the community.  In collaboration with our allies we helped the DC Police Department clarify their policy and stop the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution. We helped over 800 people know their HIV and Hepatitis C status. We facilitated the proper disposal of over 150,000 used syringes - preventing them from being discarded in our trash or on our streets where they pose a public health threat.  We counseled hundreds of individuals from around the country through our 24-hour hotline on leaving abusive relationships with pimps, managers, or partners,  helped sex workers who wanted to leave the life brainstorm options for legal employment and housing. We offered support and guidance in reaching goals to over 20 people a day at our drop in center. 

            Our year was also amazing thanks to you.  We've quadrupled our mailing list and with your help we've shown that a program like HIPS can be sustained by the community.  We've raised more unrestricted money for our programs this year than nearly all of our previous years combined.  That is a huge accomplishment that goes to show every donation counts.  Your donation counts because it helps us fund this critical work. Our hotline and crisis services are 100% funded by your donations.  Every single counseling session helping people to leave the streets, address their problematic drug use, and build new lives is supported entirely by your donations.  Together we are helping people heal.

            Last week Canadian activists successfully challenged three anti-prostitution laws that had been brought before their Supreme Court. The laws banned street solicitation, brothels and people living off the avails of prostitution. In sum, the court decision said that the dangerous environments created by these laws were far more harmful than any benefit to the public in preventing the public nuisance of prostitution. It opened the door for a new way, a new approach to addressing this very complex issue.  The decision also got me thinking about the work we do here at HIPS and the infinite possibilities of what we can accomplish when we work together.

            We can build a world where, regardless of how we feel about sex work, no one is forced to do sexual exchange through economic, physical or mental coercion. A place where even the streets are safe and law enforcement collaborates with sex workers to end violence and abuse. Where drug users and their families have a safe place to go and get help to reduce the harmful consequences of their use.  A world where we can stop the spread of HIV and address the health disparities faced by our city's most marginalized.  A world of hope and options. 

            It's HIPS New Year's resolution to create that world.  But we need you.  I hope you'll join us.



Cyndee Clay
Executive Director

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NYE Checklist - Harm Reduction Style

pink-checklist.jpgLess than 24 hours until it's time to start partying for New Year's Eve. You've got the outfit and a list of events - but are you prepared to celebrate with harm reduction strategies in mind? Worry not, we're here to help you!

NYE Harm Reduction Checklist:
  1. Carry condoms for you, a friend, or to give that drunk couple in the bathroom.
  2. Arrange for a safe way to get home.
  3. Schedule your donation to HIPS now so you don't forget!
  4. Intersperse your enjoyment-of-choice with a harm reduction one like water, taking a break, or cozy slippers instead of those six inch heels.
  5. Make sure to have your favorite breakfast/brunch foods in the house to start New Year's Day right!
  6. If you aren't sure about going home with someone at 10pm, it's probably still not a good idea at 1am.
  7. Make a contribution to HIPS before heading out the door!
  8. Get CONSENT before that midnight kiss! Grabbing and kissing strangers only worked in the days before they had sexual harassment laws... Actually, it didn't work then either.
  9. Give yourself a break and have fun! 

Here's to wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy 2014!

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HIPS Heard 'Round the World!

    We here at HIPS hope you are having a wonderful, fun and safe holiday season.  Thank you to the many who have already made an end of the year contribution.  If you haven't donated yet, we hope that you'll send some new year's joy our way by contributing today.  And, we wanted to share this great story about how HIPS is making a difference not only in our community but around the world. 

    HIPS's volunteer program is actually famous world wide.  We train over 200 people a year, and work with anywhere from 50-75 volunteers at any given time.  Our hotline and outreach van wouldn't be half as effective without the brave, dedicated people who choose to spend the wee hours of their weekends ensuring that sex workers have access to information, materials and support to lead healthier lives.

    Volunteers say that their experiences allowed them to give back to their community, and also gave them insight into the complex issues faced by sex workers.  Sometimes our beloved volunteers leave us behind for new experiences. But they never leave us in spirit. Meet Mary, a former HIPS volunteer who is now stationed with the US Peace Corps in Ethiopia. When Mary packed up to move across the Atlantic she made sure to take her "Be Nice to Sex Workers" shirt along with her. A few weeks ago, Mary sent us this update:

"For World AIDS Day on Sunday there was a 5k race organized in my town, Kombolcha. I gathered about 25 women from the local commercial sex work association and we ran together with a sign that translates to: Sex workers are members of the community and deserve respect and support.

The girls who participated loved the shirt and I shared a little bit about the mission of HIPS with them. They really appreciated the work HIPS is doing for sex workers in the US and hope to gain similar support here from organizations in Ethiopia. They are an inspiration to me.

Most of them have families and have been involved in sex work for multiple years. They formed this association to self-identify as sex workers and try to form income generating activities as a group, and educate other sex workers about safe sex and HIV prevention."


    This story shows the full power that HIPS can achieve when we all pitch in and do our part. Thanks to HIPS great supporters and volunteers like Mary we are making a difference in the lives of sex workers not just here in Washington DC, but across the world. 

    Did you know that HIPS's sex worker outreach, hotline and volunteer program are almost completely funded by individual donations?  Yes -- this means this work can't continue without you.  Your donations help buy the gas, condoms, hot chocolate and other supplies that make outreach possible. You make it possible for us to engage in over 9,000 contacts with sex workers on the streets each year. That's 9,000 opportunities to offer counseling, referrals and assistance in crisis.  It helps us bring hope and help at times and in places where no one else goes.  And it helps us inspire change not only in our clients lives here on the streets of DC, but around the world.  

    We hope you'll take a moment to support HIPS work out on the streets and help us continue to change lives. 

Cyndee Clay
Executive Director

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Here's to another 20 years!

     Words cannot express how grateful I am for the support I have seen around the 20th anniversary of HIPS! In December of 1993, a small but dedicated group banded together to reach out to people working, living and dying on their streets, hoping to make a difference.  In the twenty years since, HIPS has touched the lives of thousands of people involved in sex work, sex trade and/or drug use in the District of Columbia, offering them hope, education, and most of all a safe and respectful space for personal growth.  Many of you have been a part of our success – as clients participating in services, as volunteers, as board members, as collaborating partners, and as donors. We absolutely cannot do any of it without you.

     That’s why I'm counting on you to please give generously to HIPS this holiday season.  Any and every donation helps; we at HIPS take pride in our reputation for making every dollar count. It doesn't take much, but it does take money for us to continue sowing and harvesting positive change for our clients and our community.  


     I consider myself very fortunate to see regularly the impact that our services have. I get to see the changes people at the end of their rope can make when offered a life-affirming, non-judgmental space like ours. I get to see Janice, who despite living in a local shelter spends every day at HIPS helping welcome clients to the drop in and keep the space looking nice.  I get to see James, who helps manage his drug use by attending our daily maintenance group and since attending has found a job he likes. I see it in every woman who feels supported and valued when they walk up to the HIPS van for condoms and a quick chat to break up the long nights. 

     Recently we’ve recently started a new blog called “Why I HIPS” to help share those stories and a few photos. I invite you to take a few minutes to visit our website today and read some of the countless beautiful stories of how HIPS has changed lives. 


     I can think of no better way to show you how much your donations count, and what a huge and crucial difference you are helping us make in the lives of our clients and in the life of the city we all share.

     The work we do isn't the kind of work that ever ends, nor will it as long as people in our community need our services. With your help and support, we will always be there for those who find themselves working the streets because of dire situations, perhaps because they face employment discrimination because of a criminal record or gender identity bias, perhaps because they're victims of other forms of abuse. 

     So many of our sisters, brothers, and loved ones struggle with the harms that can be associated with drug use and sex work. While we were thrilled to hear that new HIV infections among DC drug users fell 80% in the last five years, due partly to the hard-fought expansion of syringe access, there is still more work to be done.  As long as HIPS continues to receive calls from sex workers who have been victims of violence who have nowhere to turn, there is still urgent work to be done.  When research still shows that the LGBTQ community is disproportionately affected by violent crimes in our city, there is still lifesaving work to be done.

     The HIPS team is committed to doing that work, we are experienced in doing that work, and we are asking you to help us continue getting it done in 2014 and beyond. With your donation, together we can achieve healthy streets and a healthier community. Your donations mean we can offer hope, options and non-judgmental support to our city’s most marginalized and endangered communities.


     Twenty years ago, our community boldly pulled together to pool our talents and resources in an unprecedented way to meet a critical need: to provide essential support and services that no one else was willing to provide. We are asking you to pull together now and help us continue that work today and every day (and night!).  

     These are hard times in the nonprofit world. Many of the organizations that have helped us provide vital services to those in need have shut down.  The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Health Care Reform, and the rise of the anti-human trafficking movement present great opportunities as well as great challenges for HIPS in the years to come.  With your help, I dare say we will meet these challenges and opportunities head on, fully prepared and enabled.  

     In closing, I'd like to share with you our new HIPS vision and mission statement that will serve as our rallying call for the years to come. This new direction is the result of over a year's work by all of our family of HIPS stakeholders to understand our strengths, assess our weaknesses, overcome our challenges, and focus our resources on creating real change in the lives of those we serve.  In 2014 and beyond, HIPS will:

“Promote the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. HIPS provides compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency.

We believe that those engaged in sex work, sex trade, and drug use should be able to live healthy, self-determined, and self-sufficient lives free from stigma, violence, criminalization and oppression. We will achieve this by engaging sex workers, drug users and our communities in challenging structural barriers to their health, safety, and prosperity.”

     I hope you'll consider a special donation in light of our 20th year and join the many who are helping to spread the word about the impact HIPS has had on their lives.

     Thank you for caring, thank you for daring, thank you for sharing – and, to steal a line from our Mobile Services Team & volunteers – HIPS, HIPS Hooray! I look forward to many more years of creating positive change and changing lives for the better with you. 




Cyndee Clay
Executive Director

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October Happy Hour

Join us on October 15th at 6:00pm at DC9 (1940 9th Street, NW). $10 donation at the door for raffle tickets and a free drink!


July Happy Hour

Join us on July 23rd at 6:00pm at Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar (2226 18th Street, NW). $10 donation at the door for raffle tickets and a free drink!


June Happy Hour

Join us on June 18th at 6:00pm at Science Club (1136 19th Street, NW). $10 donation gets three entries to our sexy raffle and a free drink!


May Happy Hour

We look forward to seeing you next week at our monthly happy hour event! We'll be at Mad Momos starting at 6pm. Don't be late!!


April Happy Hour!

We look forward to seeing you next week at our monthly happy hour event! We'll be at Nellie's starting at 6pm, Drag Bingo commences promptly at 7pm. Don't be late!!