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.