Dianne Gokie has been a volunteer for AIDS Services of Dallas (ASD) for over 12 years. She has shared the agency’s mission to provide affordable and dignified supportive housing to low-income and homeless individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. ASD targets individuals and families with the greatest medical and financial need for assisted living: people living with symptomatic HIV/AIDS who are moderate or low income, or are indigent and who are affected by the economic travesty the disease causes.
Since 1988, Gokie has served as Volunteer Coordinator for St. Rita AIDS Ministry, a group she started to assist residents at ASD. She served on the AIDS Task Force for the Catholic Diocese for many years and has worked hard to increase an awareness of AIDS in her faith-based community. Gokie currently serves on the Board of Directors for ASD, and continues her work as a Supper Club volunteer for low-income and homeless persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Dianne Gokie organized a group of volunteers through St. Rita Catholic Church, called “Supper Club.” Her volunteer effort was a spearhead of outreach to the Catholic Community to educate her community about the important volunteer opportunities available to help those in great distress and need. Gokie’s volunteers began bringing and sharing meals with residents at ASD’s apartment buildings, back in the days when most people were unwilling to assist persons with AIDS because of their fear and ignorance of the disease. She cared about providing nutritious home-cooked meals to supplement the limited incomes of the residents living with HIV/AIDS. She planned menus and coordinated a group of volunteers to prepare their favorite dishes, deliver them to the residents and share meals with them, offering not just food – but caring, compassion, and good humor, too.
Today, Gokie’s original Supper Club has blossomed into five (5) separate groups, numbering more than 150 people in the effort. Each group prepares and shares a meal once a month to one of four apartment communities housing individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. She cultivated her core group of volunteers to more than 150 people from St. Rita Catholic Community alone. The agency has been spared many thousands of dollars in food costs that could be directed toward other direct services. Residents have reaped many benefits by knowing that they are cared for and loved.
Gokie has helped raise private money for special needs, including funeral expenses for indigent residents who die without families or support systems. She coordinates an annual Christmas gift drive to provide Christmas gifts for each resident. Last year alone, more than 110 gifts to residents were arranged by her efforts. For nearly 11 years, the holidays have presented Gokie with a huge task, but one she has managed faithfully.
ASD’s four facilities are located in a poor area in North Oak Cliff, many people in North Dallas would avoid. In her early volunteer days, drug dealers and prostitutes frequented the area. Drive-by shootings were not uncommon. She did not let the neighborhood or the threat of personal harm deter her. The ASD apartment homes for persons living with AIDS were not initially welcomed to Oak Cliff. Neighbors protested and picketed against the projects. Gokie continues her volunteer work with persons considered by many to be pariahs of society, in an area that was not safe, in what once appeared to be a losing battle.