Daily Point of Light # 1881 Apr 19, 2001

The Pierce County AIDS Foundation (PCAF) is a facility with many programs geared towards helping those living with HIV/AIDS. Their Basic Needs Program provides home delivery of grocery bags to persons living with AIDS. David Peterson is an outstanding volunteer and advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS in Tacoma and the outlying areas of Pierce County, Washington.

Peterson is an “all around” volunteer. He is valuable, reliable, consistent and willing to handle any volunteer assignment he is asked to carry out. Most of his volunteer hours are spent in PCAF’s Basic Needs Program. In addition to delivering meals, he provides practical and emotional support to the clients. He also transports them to and from medical appointments on an as-needed basis. He can also be seen performing office support tasks like bulk mailing. He contributes an enormous amount of his time and talent to the agency on a weekly basis.

With regards to the Basic Needs Program, Petersons’s effort goes quite a way. His service contributions ensure that more than 100 clients receive two grocery bags full of nutritious food per month. Each Friday morning, he drives to a warehouse outside of town where the food is stored. He fills the bags with items such as peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables and then loads his station wagon. He makes two trips to the PCAF office where he unloads all the bags so the other volunteers can assist with delivery. But, he does not stop there. He makes sure that all of the delivery volunteers have all the clients on their routes, and if anyone does not come in or is missed; he makes a route of his own or fills in for another driver. Through Peterson’s efforts, the clients are nourished with food and the compassion of the volunteers who greet them with a smile.

Though his job may seem mundane, it is a huge commitment that takes at least five hours each Friday. If he is filling in for other volunteers, it takes more time. He begins the train that ends up at the client’s home. Without his dedication, the chain of nourishment may take longer, not be as consistent, or even be broken. Peterson’s efforts help meet the needs of PCAF’s diverse client base. In comparison to statewide figures, PCAF’s client base is poorer, lower educated and more likely to be minorities, children or drug users. The community has a tremendous need for the free food and household supplies he brings to them.

Peterson not only serves, but he recruits others to volunteer as well. He solicits volunteers to provide food bag filling and delivery services, and he acts as supervisor of the other volunteers. His community service is hands-on and ongoing. In addition to the clients of the Basic Needs Program, Peterson provides weekly emotional and practical support and a “buddy” relationship to other clients. He commits to meet with clients with medical and mental concerns, and without him, they would be homebound.

David Peterson is an exemplary volunteer. Though he has heart disease, he perseveres to make the world brighter for some who society would much rather forget. In addition to working with PCAF, Mr. Peterson gives of his time to a literacy organization, his church’s Sunday school, and causes to benefit disabled children.