The SelectHealth Team, their friends and family, and thousands of New Yorkers attended this year’s AIDS Walk in Central Park on May 15th. For some walkers, like SelectHealth Outreach Representative Chevelle Jones, this was their first-time walking with other proud HIV advocates. Right before this year’s AIDS Walk, we sat down with Chevelle to talk about her decisions to walk this year and what it means to her to be making strides with the SelectHealth team.
Q: Since 1986, tens of thousands of New Yorkers from all walks of life have participated in AIDS Walk. What is motivating you to participate in AIDS Walk for the first time?
CJ: My position on the SelectHealth Outreach Team has given me the opportunity to sit and speak with many individuals living with HIV. Hearing their stories, their battles, fears and hopes has fueled me with the same hope and inspiration. I want to give my time and support for ending the HIV epidemic in any way that I can.
Q: You’re walking as a part of the SelectHealth team. What does it mean to you to be joining your colleagues for this event?
CJ: Joining the SelectHealth Outreach Team for this event makes me proud to be a part of an organization that shows support as a whole for the community. It’s really awesome. Everyone who is going to attend knows the assignment. We are going to bring positivity, support, value and commitment!
Q: Why did you decide to apply to join VNS Health?
CJ: I am a member of the LGBTQ community and when I heard about this role, I knew that I would be able to help the individuals that I would meet. I wanted the opportunity to help educate and guide members of the community in a way that felt easy and relatable. I knew this would be a great position for me.
Q: Now that you are working with VNS Health, what’s the job really like?
CJ: I am a SelectHealth Outreach Representative. I work to build and maintain relationships with community organizations that can help connect the dots between SelectHealth and New Yorkers who could benefit from our services. I’m at clinics, hospitals, LGBTQ+ groups, food pantries and shelters to get connected to people who are of transgender experience, homeless, or living with HIV and help them get enrolled in our SelectHealth special needs plan.
Q: How does it feel to be able to connect people with the care they need?
CJ: It feels great to help people get on track to receive the care they need so that they can live longer, healthier, and even more fulfilling lives. I’m willing to go that extra mile, literally! The more members I enroll, the more people who are getting the care they may not have had access to before. It’s truly awesome.
Q: What does it feel like to be walking alongside people who want the same long, healthy, and fulfilling lives for New Yorkers with HIV?
CJ: I feel like I am playing a big part in the fight to end the HIV epidemic. I am thrilled to walk as part of the SelectHealth team with my colleagues and friends – that feels special. To everyone on my team, let’s get hype, get some rest the night before, and don’t forget to stretch!