Improving the quality of life for children infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS through enriching programs, unforgettable experiences, and connections to the community.
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H.E.R.O. for Children's annual outreach to provide children impacted by HIV/AIDS with at least one gift they want and one gift they need during the holiday season looked a lot different in 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, H.E.R.O. decided not to convene the various groups of volunteers required to execute our normal holiday program – Holiday of HEROs (HOH). We believed this was the best course of action to take to ensure the collective health and safety of our staff and volunteers. As a result, we facilitated HOH in an abbreviated form.

Instead of requesting our traditional Child Wish Lists, community partners and parents were asked to submit Child Information Forms by a set deadline; these forms listed the children in the household, their ages, and genders. Presents were matched to children using their ages and genders, and were not wrapped. H.E.R.O. solicited and received financial donations, in-kind gifts, and child sponsors to support this initiative. Sponsors agreed to 'adopt' a set amount of children, shop for their gifts, and deliver them to the H.E.R.O. office or have them picked up. Gifts for children in partner cities were shipped, delivered or collected from our headquarters. For our local families, we facilitated a drive-up and pick-up event on Saturday, December 19th, 2020 at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur. Parents were able to drive up, and masked H.E.R.O. staff safely loaded their gift bags into their vehicles. Through the outstanding generosity of some exemplary individual and group donors, H.E.R.O. was able to serve 368 children from Atlanta, Athens, Albany, Augusta, and Macon, Georgia via this program in 2020.

H.E.R.O. would like to give special thanks to all of the donors and volunteers who aided us for our 2020 Holiday of HEROs program. H.E.R.O. received generous financial gifts, in-kind donations and/or child sponsorships from the following individuals and organizations: 

2020 HOH Cash Donations
- The Monins
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Atlanta Alumnae Chapter
- Christian Herr and Modern Enigma Society members
- Peachtree Pilot Club of Atlanta
- Doris Murphy

2020 HOH GIK Donations
- Toys for Tots
- St. Peter Chanel
- Greer Monin
- JoAnn Akers
- Louise Shimer
On Saturday, December 5th, Coach Grace Dyson, Certified Career Management Coach and Founder of Life Design Careers, facilitated a virtual workshop for our children entitled “Interviewing with Confidence in the Digital Age.” This topic was specifically requested by several of our HERO teenagers, as they are increasingly being asked to interview for employment virtually due to the pandemic. In response, Coach Grace prepared a lesson intended to provide them with the tools necessary to thrive in this new arena. She divided her presentation into three segments: Before the Interview, During the Interview and After the Interview.

In segment one, Coach Grace emphasized the importance of proper preparation for a virtual interview. This included everything from testing camera views, meeting links and passwords beforehand to ensuring that your environment will be quiet and free of distractions. Particular attention was paid to errors interviewees continue to make on the virtual landscape, such as looking at the screen rather than the camera lens, failing to silence cell phones, and neglecting to wear pants (“What if you need to stand up unexpectedly?,” Coach Grace asked.). Ensuring that your lighting source is in front of you and your camera lens is at eye level were also stressed.

The “During the Interview” portion covered a range of questions that interviewers typically ask, as well as inquiries interviewees should consider verbalizing. Coach Grace helped participants reframe the dreaded “What are your greatest weaknesses?” query as an opportunity to ‘tell the story’ of how they have overcome professional obstacles in the past. She also encouraged attendees to ask what will follow in the interview process. “Asking for the next steps now will keep you from wondering later,” she stated. Coach Grace concluded segment two by conducting mini mock interviews with participants to build assurance in their collective ability to deal with difficult questions.

Segment three addressed action steps employment candidates can take after interviews to stand out in applicant pools. Sending thank you notes/emails topped the list. Coach Grace spent time reviewing exactly what should be included in thank you notes/emails with participants, and underscored the significance of sending such in a timely fashion (i.e. the next day). In closing, she reiterated session highlights and offered additional tips, such as practice smiling on camera, put a sticker next to your camera lens to draw your eyes there, and rehearse interviewing with relatives or friends. 

This was an enlightening, interactive seminar that challenged our adolescents to adjust their interviewing skills so that they are equipped to compete effectively in the digital age. Our HERO children were thoroughly engaged during the class and asked thoughtful questions throughout. Special thanks to Coach Grace for her continued commitment to supporting our children as they successfully navigate entrance into the workforce. 
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, UGA HEROs raised a noteworthy $207,577.24 to support HERO programs in 2020! UGA HEROs remains the largest collegiate philanthropy organization in the Southeast, and works year-round to raise financial support for HERO children across the state and host activities for our local kids. We would like to thank all of the more than 2,000 members of UGA HEROs for their tremendous contributions to improving the lives of children infected with/affected by HIV/AIDS in Georgia.
During this difficult time, H.E.R.O. for Children, Inc. has been forced to suspend in-person programming for our children. With this said, we are looking to provide them and their families with new and innovative, virtual opportunities. If you have access to or ideas regarding appropriate, virtual activities or events for youth and adolescents, please e-mail our Match and Development Coordinator – Nadia Eliacin – at nadia@heroforchildren.org.

We thank you in advance for your ideas and support! Please continue to stay safe.
Virtual Tutors Needed
H.E.R.O. is openly recruiting volunteer tutors to assist our students in the areas of math, science, social studies, language arts, and reading. We would prefer volunteers who are at least 25 years old, and have prior teaching/tutoring experience. If you are interested, please email our Match and Development Coordinator – Nadia Eliacin – at nadia@heroforchildren.org.
Super HERO Mentors Needed
The Super HEROes Mentoring Program is a community-based, one-on-one mentoring program serving children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The program provides these children with the opportunity to have a positive role model through a mentor and to strengthen their life skills, self-esteem, communication skills, goal-setting and academic performance.

Volunteer mentors needed to:
  • Spend one-on-one quality time with a child at least twice a month, a minimum of two hours each time (virtually during the pandemic).
  • Participate with the child in a bi-monthly group activity organized and sponsored by H.E.R.O. for Children (virtually during the pandemic).
  • Be a positive role model for the child.
  • Contribute to strengthening the child's self-esteem, social adjustment and life skills.