Purpose is what gives life meaning!  When her uncle died of AIDS, 18-year-old Cait Quinlivan was gifted with knowing her purpose. 

“That’s how I view things right now.  I would love to pursue a career with a non-profit AIDS hospital or a medical facility in Africa.  The loss of my uncle has been the driving force that has inspired me to do volunteer work with people living with HIV/AIDS.”

 Cait’s purpose included organizing youth teams for the annual AIDS walk and serving as the youth representative on the State Planning Group for AIDS and HIV.  It also sent the young activist to Narok, Kenya to teach AIDS education to the children. 

“I looked on line and read about United Planet, a group that promotes cultural exchange through volunteer programs.   I knew right then it was something I had to do.  Nothing was going to stop me.”

 While in Africa, Cait, a young woman armed with Peace Corps educational materials on HIV and AIDS, was inspired by the people she met. 

“Being able to work at that level with these individuals who have gotten a bad rap really impacted me.  I spent a lot of time with the Kenyan public health department.  I also gave talks to young girls on how to protect themselves.  They loved to be around me since I was pretty close to their age. During the presentations, I was pretty candid about HIV/AIDS.  The most rewarding part of the whole trip was the eagerness and excitement of the girls.”

 When she was in the 7th grade, Cait knew what she had to do---volunteer at the Berakhah house, a residence for men and women living with AIDS.  Cait, whose grandfather helped promote the house, was determined to make a difference. 

“You have to focus on the negative to be positive.  You have to recognize a problem before you solve it and then take positive steps.  For me, that means doing what I can to stop the deadly virus from taking more lives.”

 Aside from losing her uncle to AIDS, death has also taken Cait’s father and her maternal grandparents.  The tragedies have taught Cait about the uncertainties of life and most of all, the importance of the ‘here and now.’

“Life is an opportunity and needs to be seized!  Remember, the motto: Carpe Diem---seize the day!  Do what you can.   You only have so much time here on earth.  I realized that for sure because of the family members who have suddenly passed away.  I urge everyone to take everything that comes you way and do what you can with it.”

 Author Arnold Bennett offers advice to people who are obsessed with the difficulties in their lives.  Bennett writes, “The best cure for worry and depression is to go forth deliberately and try to lift with one’s encouragement, the gloom of somebody else.”  Cait, talking from first hand experience, wholeheartedly agrees. 

“Find the positives in your life.  If you’ve lost a loved one, think of the experiences you’ve shared.  If that person died of cancer, volunteer with the American Cancer Society.  Even, sharing your story with someone who experienced a similar loss can be healing for both people.  Find some way to be proactive with your situation is helpful.  It has been for me.”

 Words of encouragement from Cait Quinlivan, a determined woman with a life changing purpose who genuinely loves life.