5 questions with Mary Marshall
Mary Marshall is the director of volunteers/development associate for the AIDS Interfaith Network. AIDS Interfaith celebrates its 20th anniversary with a reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the agency’s offices at 501 N. Stemmons, Ste. 200.
How did you first become involved as a volunteer in the battle against AIDS?
I have volunteered with a variety of HIV-related organizations and events since 1984 when my best friend was diagnosed. Before he passed away in 1990, I made a vow to him that I would continue doing whatever I could to help other people like him. But I didn’t really know what to do other than what I had been doing all along, which was taking care of him.
What was the first actual event you participated in?
I was sitting in front of the television one night and I saw a commercial for the first annual AIDS LifeWalk. So I walked in the very first LifeWalk and have continued walking each year.
How did your volunteer work grow from there?
In 1996-97, I joined the steering committee for LifeWalk, and in the meantime, I was also participating in the visitation program at the AIDS Resource Center for four years. And the second year after the NAMES Project Quilt came out, I took a two-week vacation from work and spent the whole time in San Francisco sewing on the quilt. Over the years, I have volunteered with the Black Tie Dinner and so many other things.
How did you go from AIDS service organization volunteer to full-time AIN employee?
I worked for 17 years as a travel agent. But one day in 2000, I had just had enough. So I turned in my resignation. I quit without even having another job to go to. I didn’t work for almost six months, and I had to cash out my 401K plan to live. Then through my volunteer work at LifeWalk, I heard about the job at AIDS Interfaith. I and two other people turned in applications. The others had a lot of volunteer management experience, but not much experience in the field of HIV and AIDS. It was my experience with AIDS that gave me the edge.
What makes AIDS Interfaith Network special?
The staff here is so caring about the clients, and I think we are unique in the way we show how much we appreciate our volunteers. And we are unique because we are a faith-based organization that does not promote any particular religion and still has a spiritual side.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 17, 2006.