Born: Salisbury, MD
Current residence: Brooklyn, NY
Volunteer: Massage Therapist since 2003
What has been the impact of this volunteer experience to your life? In two areas: it has sharpened my massage therapy skills and also, since I am not a client, it has deepened my understanding of HIV/AIDS and how it affects people.
What were you doing prior to volunteering at GMHC? My career as a modern dancer was ending. Though I continued to teach gymnastics I was aware of this major transition in my life.
What were you looking for when you came to GMHC? I was seeking to develop a professional identity since teaching gymnastics was quite limiting for me.
What is it like to volunteer especially during the first few years? I had just graduated from The Swedish Institute’s massage program then. I was still experimenting…figuring how to talk with the clients, improve the quality of my therapy sessions. I was gaining an education on the lives of people living with HIV. I do bodywork which overlaps with emotional conditions and stress that affect our clients.
How have your interactions with our clients been over the last seven years? Intense! I have learned that there is a continuity of clients [who seek my therapy sessions] which is a huge compliment to me. It also shows me how they [the clients] cope with certain types of conditions or emotional stressors. Further, the toxicity of the antiretrovirals [over time] becomes a key factor to address within my treatments.
Can you tell me a client situation that totally moved and inspired you? Every one of their situations moves me, particularly those who are victims of violence and those with multiple conditions in addition to being seropositive.
What do you with your spare time? It is challenging since I continue to perform with community dance theatres while supporting the Arts. I am blessed with an extended network of friends that provide me huge support. I love to read and to cook.
Who are your favorite authors? Dr. John Money, a Sexologist…I have read at least 12 of his books. I love to read a lot of “shrinks”, biographies and all kinds of fiction books.
What do you mean “read a lot of shrinks”? Oh, Alice Miller, Leonard Shengold, John Ratey among others.