More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, but one in seven of them do not know it, according to HIV.gov. These types of alarming statistics are what encouraged Kelvin Brooks’ to become a volunteer in Augusta University’s Division of Infectious Diseases and help promote HIV testing and prevention.
Brooks has spent the past four years serving in the university’s Division of Infectious Diseases Clinic providing, HIV patients with emotional support, helping them find transportation to their doctor’s visits and even assisting with the Ryan White Program.
For Brooks, this illness hits close to home, which explains his tireless efforts to seeing patients overcome by the physical and emotional challenges of living with the infection.
“I enjoy helping others and putting a smile on someone’s face is what I love to do,” said Brooks. “Many view HIV as a death sentence, which is why I keep a positive attitude so I can be a ray of sunshine in their day.”
Brooks’ hard work and upbeat countenance caught the attention of Ryan White Program Patient Coordinator Carolyn Yancey and she nominated him for this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award. Out of dozens of entrees, Brooks was chosen and Yancey says she was excited to see him recognized for his work in the clinic.
“From day one, Kelvin has been there for the patients, and his kindness adds a personal touch to work being done in the office,” said Yancey. “He is so deserving of this award because there have been days when he’s not feeling the best, but he still pushes himself to serve others and that is just one of many qualities I admire about him.”
Although Brooks is two years shy of age 65, he has no plans of slowing down and continues to spend countless hours serving in the clinic and assisting at the rapid testing sites with the Ryan White Program. He says his heart is in helping the patients in the clinic and he hopes his service will inspire others to volunteer their time at the university.
“I am so honored to have been named 2018 Volunteer of the Year and I encourage others to consider being a volunteer because so much help is needed and it is a rewarding experience,” said Brooks.
Brooks is a native of Augusta.