Honoring National Volunteer Week


An Interview with Until There’s A Cure Volunteer Martha Phillips

BY LINDSAY STEELE

“I am passionate about fairness and giving a helping hand to those in need. It will make us all stronger!” – Martha Phillips

Martha Phillips is a veteran of the fashion industry. Her diverse back groundincludes trend forecasting, merchandising, buying and fashion publishing in apparel, accessories and home decor. Having worked in companies that range from luxury to mass, Martha has a clear understanding of where trends come from and how they translate to any market. Martha volunteers 3 – 4 days a week while her 4-year old twin girls are at school.

Lindsay: Why HIV/AIDS and why Until There’s A Cure?

Martha: Having spent my career in the Fashion Industry, I have had close personal experience with people affected by HIV/AIDS. And back in the late 1980’s, when I lived in NYC and worked in the fashion industry there, it wasn’t about HIV because no one even knew they had HIV until they had full blown AIDS. And they died fast. You couldn’t open Women’s Wear Daily without seeing an obituary of a man in his 40s and we all knew what that meant. It was excruciating.

Today, with the amazing progress in drug treatments, my biggest fear is that people will be complacent about HIV/AIDS. In America, it feels sometimes like the forgotten disease, not like the incurable epidemic it really is. My hope is that UTAC can raise awareness enough to help compassionate Americans – and there are millions of them – realize that the problem is not gone.

Today too, the world-wide epidemic is even more tragic, due to the inability of poverty stricken populations to get testing and adequate treatment. Now that I have children, I am profoundly affected by the way this tragedy affects the innocents; the children who are infected by their pregnant mothers or left orphaned.

30 years ago when HIV was first identified, I think people thought that if you got it, it was your own fault. Today’s HIV does not discriminate.

Why UTAC? Until There’s A Cure doesn’t have a big administration. They don’t have a fancy office. They don’t have a team of thousands. It’s lean, and as such, nearly all of the money raised goes to those in need. This is the kind of philanthropic institution that I want to be associated with and that needs my help the most.

Lindsay: What keeps you coming back to volunteer?

Martha: The cause and the inspiring people I get to work with, who share my concern.

Lindsay: What bracelets do you wear?

Martha: African Art bracelet, Kazuri stretch bracelet, Orphan bracelet (3 at a time), The World Bracelet. I love to stack them up my arm, some or all at once. And I wear the exquisitely crafted Sterling UNTIL Ribbon necklace.

Lindsay: What are your short term and long term goals for Until There’s A Cure?

Martha: Short term, I’m here to help things run more smoothly so the key people at Until There’s A Cure can be freed up to focus on the big goal, finding new and bigger resources for funding and getting that funding to those in need.

Long term, my goal is to be a part of that bigger focus of driving more significant fund raising for UTAC, and to be around on the day that we can close the doors at UTAC, when we’ve found the cure.

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