“We don’t know what we would have done if Stacey hadn’t shown up in our lives at that time,” notes John as he describes the struggles he and his partner went through after being diagnosed as HIV positive in early 2010.

John, who did not have health insurance at the time, was hospitalized due to trouble breathing right after Christmas in 2009. Initially the doctors thought that he had bacterial pneumonia, but eventually test results confirmed that John was HIV positive and in the stages of AIDS; his white blood cell count had gotten down to 17.

After this diagnosis, a case worker at the hospital referred John to Stacey, the RASP (Rural AIDS Services Program) Case Management Coordinator at Community Action. John remembers that Stacey was, “very nice from the very beginning- very open and honest”.

Stacey was able to help out John and his partner, who had also tested as HIV positive, by giving them gift cards for groceries and gasoline as they struggled to manage hospital fees, car payments, and other bills. While John was in the hospital for a whole month recovering, Stacey also helped him to find an oxygen tank that he would need during recovery. At this time, John also became depressed, largely as a result of his diagnosis. Stacey was able to connect him with a local therapist who helped John through that tough time.

Since then, John has gone on disability and has taken proactive steps to improve his health, like quitting smoking, incorporating light exercise into his lifestyle, watching his diet, and taking krill oil to combat the high cholesterol that he was dealing with as a result of his medication. His white blood cell count is now in the mid 550’s.

John says that when he comes to the Community Action office, our receptionist, “greets everyone with the biggest smile when they come in”. John has also worked with Daniel, another RASP Case Manager, and several RASP interns throughout his years of association with Community Action and thinks that, “everyone here has just been fantastic”.

*The name of this individual has been changed due to privacy concerns