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State Honoree

Alexia Abernathy

Iowa

Alexia Abernathy, 17, of George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a volunteer board member who coordinates fund-raisers, handles chores, and befriends the residents of the Clare House, a home for HIV and AIDS patients. Alexia's first introduction to this dreaded illness came when she applied for and was accepted to the HIVIAIDS Education Board at her school, for which she was trained as an educator. She decided she needed to know more about people living with this illness when she heard about the Clare House and offered her help. For nearly 10 hours each week, Alexia helps the residents cook, clean, and garden, and often just sits and talks with them. As secretary of the board, Alexia attends meetings, takes minutes, and directs all fund-raising events for the house, which is in deep financial need and under threat of closing. "I am determined to raise the money so the residents I care so much about are able to stay in the house," said Alexia. She has initiated a letter-writing campaign to area doctors to solicit funds, and is planning a fair at a local school. "The most important part of my volunteering is the people. This is also the hardest part because I know that as much as I love these people, they will be gone in too short a time," Alexia said.