Mary Beth O’Connor is the the volunteer services manager and a development associate with AIDS Services of Dallas, an organization that provides housing for people with HIV. Her current development project is the No Tie Dinner and Dessert Party.
1 How did you get involved with AIDS Services?
I have been a volunteer with AIDS Services since 1992, and I came on staff in 1998, working with volunteers. I started as a supper club member. The supper clubs are groups of volunteers who provide evening meals for residents in our facilities.
2 What are your duties now?
I do a little bit of everything. We have about a thousand volunteers that I manage. Most of those are supper club members. As a development associate, I work on special events.
3 Tell me about the No Tie Dinner and Dessert Party.
It will be on March 29 at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. The concept is very cool. What happens is that people all over Dallas host dinner in their home that evening anything from four people having hot dogs to a sit-down gourmet meal for 200. Then at 8 p.m., they will all come to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, where we will all have desserts from some of Dallas’ finest restaurants. There will also be entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction. Joe Pacetti, a local Dallas jeweler, is honorary chair this year, and Dennis Kershner is chairman.
4 Can people still sign up to participate?
As of (Tuesday, Feb. 19), we have more than 30 people hosting dinners, so we are expecting about 600 total. But anyone who wants to participate can call me. They can host a dinner or donate auction items or be a sponsor.
5 What is it about your job that keeps you coming in day after day?
I love my job. I really do. I work with wonderful people, and we do wonderful work here. I’m very lucky to get to work with people like the United Court of the Lone Star Empire and the Leather Knights and the Purple Party folks. I am on property at Hillcrest House, which is for people with HIV who were homeless. I am here every day, so I get to see how we really do help people. I get to see what a difference it makes when someone can get off the streets, get a roof over their head, get three good meals and regular transportation to their doctor’s appointments. Those things can really have a big impact on a person’s health, and I get to see that happen. I get to help people every day, and I get to work with people doing something nice for someone else. It’s a lot of fun, and I love it.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 22, 2008