Mesa-based Compassion In Action, one of 16 agencies under the Aunt Rita’s Foundation, will take part in tomorrow’s AIDS Walk AZ. Aunt Rita’s is a Valley nonprofit that produces the Oct. 23 AIDS Walk Arizona and 5K Run. All money raised is distributed equally to the 16 Valleywide member agencies that provide programs to prevent HIV/AIDS or to assist those living with the disease.
Steve and Patty Robenalt of Mesa began the Compassion In Action ministry work after they experienced the diagnosis of AIDS and later death of Patty’s mother in 1989. They wanted to reach out to others with HIV/AIDS, to show compassion rather than condemnation.
“Funds Compassion In Action receive from the event allows us to keep helping the people we serve,” Steve said. “National funding has been cut dramatically, and three years ago we lost our funding through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, yet two local churches picked up that expense of $1,000 per month, $500 of that going to purchase frozen meats. The funding we received from Aunt Rita’s Foundation went to staffing and the monthly dinners we provide our clients.”
Compassion In Action provides food boxes every month – helping 30-50 families – a monthly dinner and meeting for individuals infected or affected by HIV, emotional/spiritual support, hospital visits.
“We stopped buying frozen meats through a food bank program in April and we are purchasing as many fresh vegetables as we can for our clients,” Steve said. “We are doing the best we can to stretch our monies through the end of the year. The monies raised through the AIDS Walk will go towards the food box program and staffing.”
Steve’s mother, Deanna Robenalt, knocks on doors of her neighbors and friends to fundraise for the AIDS Walk. She shares the story of its beginnings and of the wonderful people she has met through her son’s ministry. Deanna doesn’t get to as many homes as she would like because of the time it takes to share the story of the ministry.
“My mom, Deanna, is a great help and support to our mission to help those with HIV/AIDS,” Steve said. “She goes door-to-door to share our story with neighbors and talking to people at church. She loves that personal connection. She also helps coordinate our food box program working with the groups who volunteer, on how to pack up the produce and dry boxes. She is my biggest champion and I am so grateful to have her as part of this ministry.”
Deanna has even invited a woman who is HIV positive to come to her home for coffee and helps her with an embroidery project.
Team Compassion In Action is still registering people to walk with them tomorrow. If you would like to join them, contact Steve Robenalt at 480-220-0602.
So far the team has raised over $2,000 in donations.
“Our goal is to raise $3,000 and with the matching online donations that Walgreens is offering until Oct. 25, any donations that come in are doubled, so we hope to meet that goal,” Steve said.
Donate to Team Compassion In Action at: http://www.auntritasevents.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=5024 or http://bit.ly/2elaeaq.
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at email@example.com.