The Executive Director of AIDS Resource in Williamsport, Kirsten Burkhart, is a national HIV Hero! Kirsten won the honor in a nationwide contest to identify the heroes who help victims fight HIV in their communities every day.
Winners were chosen by a panel of judges including Grammy Award-winning singer Dionne Warwick, actor Wilson Cruz, movie director Dustin Lance Black, humanitarian and author Malaak Compton-Rock, and HIV advocacy leader David Munar. Essays were submitted by either winners or someone in their community.
For more than 10 years Kirsten has been Executive Director at AIDS Resource, a nonprofit organization that provides critical education, prevention, and outreach programs to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the greater Williamsport area.
When Kirsten took over in 2001, the nonprofit was deep in debt and in serious danger of closing. Kirsten stabilized the agency financially within one year. According to Kirsten:
“The work that we do at AIDS Resource is especially important, because we are the only organization providing HIV education and care in our community. As our clients continually battle stigma and discrimination, we provide a safe, non-judgmental environment where they are embraced with open arms and can get the care they so desperately need but are unable to get elsewhere. While this is unquestionably the most challenging job I’ve ever had, I truly love the work that I do, the staff I do it with and the clients we do it for.” Pennsylvania ranks as one of the top 10 states with the highest number of reported cases of HIV.
Kirsten says that winning this recognition “was overwhelming. When I think of all of the people who are doing so much for people infected with or affected by HIV nationwide, it’s really remarkable that I was even considered. I am extremely lucky to be able to do something that I love so much; I certainly wasn’t expecting to receive an award for something that is so inherently rewarding.”
You can support the work of AIDS Resource by purchasing holiday centerpieces or wreaths. They are also one of the many nonprofi ts that can be supported by shopping through Goodshop. For more information go to www.aidsresource. com or call 570-322-8448.