POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 11:54pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 5:34pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — "Speak out and speak up and give a young person's perspective on the different issues affecting our community," said Forum 35 President, Jesse Hoggard. That's exactly what one group is aiming to do.
Forum 35 is a non-profit community service organization of young professionals in Baton Rouge. "It just gives me a sense of pride and joy that I can give back to my community," added President-Elect, Kasey Henry. With initiatives like the Reindeer run and Art Melt under their belt, they're bringing their volunteer rally, forum fever, to the forefront.
"Forum  is one of the main reasons I decided to stay in Baton Rouge. It really helped to show me all that Baton Rouge had to offer not only with new friends and a great network, but doing things to help make the city better," said Hoggard. "So this is a chance to come and learn about the different initiatives and projects that we do, for potential members, old members, or new members..."
New members like Joe Coussan "I had a job opportunity in New York and since then, I've moved back," said Coussan, who's also looking to get involved. "Baton Rouge has really grown and organizations like this appear to be keeping their finger on the pulse of what's going on," he added.
Diversity, the arts, and leadership aren't their only targets. Keynote Speaker andHIV/AIDS service organization director used Wednesday's meeting to share another issue. Timothy Young, the CEO at HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc. or HAART, said, "Baton Rouge has the highest AIDS rate in the country. It's an opportunity to meet young professionals, encourage them to get involved in important community causes like HIV/AIDS."
And since it's start 20 years ago, about 600 of Forum 35' smembers hope to change the capital city for the better. "To have so many people that are committed to our community and giving back and helping to improve it is really rewarding," said Henry.
For information on how to get involved with Forum 35, visit www.forum35.org 
For information and/or support on HIV/AIDS, visit the HAART website at www.haartinc.org