Aaron Johnston is the Retail Manager for M∙A∙C Cosmetics at the Oakridge Mall Hudson’s Bay store. He coordinates M∙A∙C volunteer activities at the Dr. Peter Centre and has been a dedicated volunteer for many years. He and other M∙A∙C volunteers come to the Centre each month to do makeup for our participants and residents and volunteer at events, such as the Pride Parade, Scotiabank Passions fundraiser, and World AIDS Day Voices of Hope concert.
On the afternoons that Aaron volunteers at the Centre, he can be found in one of the complimentary therapy rooms, where a client relaxes in the makeup chair and talks about their appearance with him. In turn, he gently applies makeup while giving beauty advice and catching up.The atmosphere is quiet and calm and people often smile or chuckle shyly as they gaze into the mirror once he is finished.
Long-term M∙A∙C volunteers, like Aaron, have built trusting relationships with clients at the Dr. Peter Centre. This trust is critical because many clients have experienced trauma and violence. M∙A∙C volunteers’ gifts of time and talent allow clients to reconnect with themselves through the therepeutic activity of a makeover.
Dr. Peter Centre recreation therapist, Vlatka Maksimcev, explains that many of the clients who sit in the makeup chair express their frustration with body changes that are HIV-related.“Through the application of makeup, they have the opportunity to feel better, to feel festive, and to have fun,” she says. The act of permitting someone to be face-to-face and in close contact is an important way for a person to feel cared for and engaged.”
Through a cohort of devoted volunteers, who have been coming to the Dr. Peter Centre for more than ten years, as well as through significant financial support, M∙A∙C Cosmetics has made a lasting, positive impact on the Centre and our clients. Since 1997, M∙A∙C has donated over a million dollars to the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. Every dollar of the sale of M∙A∙C Viva Glam lipstick and lip gloss goes directly to the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund, which has helped expand the Dr. Peter Centre’s day health program to seven days a week.
The M∙A∙C AIDS Fund has also enabled the Centre’s Knowledge Translation and Evaluation Program to share our innovative model of care, which is responding to the evolving future of HIV care. Over the past two years, M ∙A∙ C funds have made it possible for the Dr. Peter Centre to host knowledge exchange visits by over 100 key policy makers, researchers and practitioners from across Canada, the U.S., France, Brazil, Columbia, Australia, New Zealand and China.
Aaron began working for M ∙A∙C Cosmetics in 2003 because he was inspired by the company’s mission to help people living with HIV. “M∙A∙C gives a lot back to the people living with HIV, and it is important because there is a lot of stigma attached to HIV,” Johnston says.“M∙A∙C volunteers show that there are people who care and treat them as people and not as someone with a disease.”
For decades, M∙A∙C Cosmetics has made a global difference in the lives of people of all ages, races, and genders who are living with HIV and AIDS. M∙A∙C’s support of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation exemplifies their dedication to sustaining organizations that provide vital services for people living with HIV. We are grateful for their generous support that has enabled us to grow in many ways.