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Volunteers mean so much more to Living Positive Victoria than the mere time they give up to help the organisation and our members. The numerous hours on the ground, in the office, on the phone and playing their part at all levels of the organisation are a conduit to helping Living Positive Victoria deliver direct and meaningful pathways to individual skills-development, resilience-building and community & social connectedness. To mark 2020 National Volunteers Week, we hear from one of LPV’s team of volunteers, Darren Massey. Darren’s involvement in LPV has allowed him to discover who he is as a leader and learn lessons in gratitude and transcendence. This story is about how HIV changed Darren’s life by engaging with us across several of our volunteer platforms and services.

“HIV, which was once seemingly my greatest weakness, is now slowly becoming one of my greatest strengths. Or rather, it is becoming increasingly evident that the small miracles that have come about by virtue of this diagnosis have seen my life transcend to a place I am certain I would never have become acquainted with had I remained HIV negative. There seems no other way to describe it other than an acute awareness that HIV has allowed me to go beyond where I would otherwise have gone without it. For that, I am tremendously thankful.

Upon my HIV diagnosis in the year 2000, I would never have dreamed, even for a second, that 20 years later I would be sitting in a room full of other people, also HIV positive, participating in a Positive Leadership Development Institute workshop, designed to build resilience, leadership skills, networks, connections and potential. And yet here we were. I did need to pause and really think about that a few times over this special experience. It made me grateful. It made me grateful that I never lost sight of hope and that this workshop and experience is/was yet another of the many gifts that becoming involved with Living Positive Victoria has facilitated and allowed into my life.

This engagement in the HIV community, creating and prompting more questions than answers, has provided me with renewed vigour in my HIV positive odyssey. Coming about at precisely the right time for me emotionally and, in the context of my recovery from alcohol and other drugs, spiritually, the opportunity to realise my leadership potential has enabled me to further tap into and honour my deepest core values of making myself and my life important, realising my self-worth and maybe even ultimately inspiring others in the process. I’m excited to find out where all this might lead for myself.”

In addition to completing the Positive Leadership Development Institute workshops, Darren has recently been trained for our Positive Speakers Bureau. Darren’s story is one of self-awareness, selflessness and courage – attributes that are all embedded in the spirit that Living Positive Victoria offers all volunteers, at every level of participation.

Read about our volunteer program.