Tom Wagner, New ARA Donor, on the Value of Volunteering

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August 07 2014

Thomas Wagner is an active volunteer in the Los Angeles area. After retiring from a position as a senior business analyst for a land title insurance company, he decided to dedicate his time and energy to helping local nonprofits.

Luckily, he found AIDS Research Alliance, and we can now count him among our loyal supporters. Here, we talk with Tom about what motivates him to give back, and why he hopes for a cure for HIV/AIDS.

How did you learn about AIDS Research Alliance?

I volunteer at the LGBT Center in Hollywood. I was volunteering there for an event at the Renberg Theater, and ARA had a booth outside the theater.

Tom Wagner
Tom Wagner traveling in South Korea


Why are HIV/AIDS issues important to you?

Through the years, I have lost many friends to AIDS, and I have buried far too many men way too early in their lives.

I still have friends who are HIV-positive, and some who have AIDS.

A woman with whom I currently volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, who has a gay brother living in Palm Springs, also volunteers at Project Angel Food. So there’s camaraderie in supporting HIV/AIDS causes, and, quite simply, we need to find a cure.

How do you see a cure for HIV/AIDS changing the world?

Particularly in Africa, a cure would be a tremendous thing. Way too many people are dying who shouldn’t be dying. Unfortunately, younger kids tend to think that they are invincible. They are not playing safe.

I remember when I was a kid. Polio was a big thing then. We couldn’t go swimming in public pools; there were things we couldn’t do anymore. People were being put in iron lungs. Now, there’s a vaccine against polio, and polio is almost a thing of the past. If we could find a cure for HIV/AIDS, that would be an amazing advancement.

Volunteering/philanthropy seem to be a big part of your life - what organizations do you support? 

Besides the LGBT Center in Hollywood, I have volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House for over 11 years. I volunteered at KCET public TV, and also at the Red Cross for five years.

I work on mailing lists. I work on reception desks. I do light dusting and vacuuming. I have helped with fundraisers. I give tours. I’m open to a whole range of ways to support the causes I care about.

Why do you feel compelled to give your time and resources to others?

What inspires me is I know people can give money – and I do – but a lot of people don’t give time.  Organizations need people who are the grunts, who will help do the work to get the job done. That’s what inspires me.  Additionally, I like to keep my body and mind active.

Tom Wagner
Tom Wagner traveling in South Korea


Thank you, Tom, for supporting your community in so many meaningful ways!

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