AIN asks for assistance with budget shortfall with Close the Gap campaign

AIDS Interfaith Network is asking the community for assistance in closing a budget shortfall. The demand for meals, bus passes and respite care is exceeding funding, the agency says.

AIN reports that in 2012 it’s on track to serve 26,000 meals to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. By the end of the year, AIN will provide 17,000 bus and rail passes for clients to get to medical appointments and access other life-saving services.

Executive Director Steven Pace is asking the community to make a donation and help close the gap:

Each year, about a quarter of our budget comes from unrestricted sources like foundations, community groups/events, and individuals. And year after year, you step up. You donate faithfully, entrusting AIN to use your generosity where it best fits the current need. Right now, the need is exceeding the funding, so we’re counting on you once more.

We know that many in our community are struggling to close the gap in their own households or businesses. We understand. But we also know that our supporters are dedicated and passionate about AIN’s clients. We can all do something — no matter how large or small — to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

I’ll report back later in the week with our progress. Thank you in advance for helping us close the gap.

With gratitude,
Steven Pace, MSSW
Executive Director

P.S. You can help close the gap the old-fashioned way, too. Please mail checks to:

AIN
501 N. Stemmons Fwy. #200
Dallas, TX 75207

—  David Taffet

WATCH: “AIN is …” from Saturday’s Bloomin’ Ball

The below video featuring longtime clients of AIDS Interfaith Network talking about what the agency has meant to them — using words like “hope,” “freedom” and “life” — represented one of the more poignant moments during Saturday’s Bloomin’ Ball … Sowing Seeds of Hope at the Hilton Anatole. So we were glad to get a chance to watch the video again after AIN Development Director Travis Gasper sent it out earlier today. (If you haven’t already seen it, you may want to grab some Kleenex before clicking play.)

“After you watch the video, consider making a donation to support clients like LaShanda and Samuel,” Gasper writes. “Just $20 can provide breakfast and lunch for three clients battling HIV/AIDS. Or donate $50, and provide a one-month unlimited bus pass, so clients like Billy can access life-saving medical care. Or support Dorothy and clients like her with a month’s worth of meals, for $125.”

On a side note, happy birthday to AIN Executive Director Steven Pace, who turned 60 the other day. Watch “AIN is …” after the jump.

—  John Wright

Funding restored for HIV meals programs

Micki Garrison and Steven Pace

Cuts that alarmed agencies turn out to be paperwork error

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Two Dallas agencies that provide hot meals for low-income people with HIV — Resource Center Dallas and AIDS Interfaith Network — received notice last week that funding for those programs would be eliminated as of Sept. 1.

But the notice was a mistake. Dallas County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Blanca Cantu said Thursday, Aug. 18, that the mistake should be corrected — and funding restored to the agencies — before the beginning of the state’s new fiscal year.

“DCHHS is not defunding the meals programs,” Cantu said.

She said that the error was due to a paperwork snafu.

“Funds that should have been split between the food bank and the meals program were inadvertently combined and reflected as one total allocation to food bank,” she said. “Recent notifications of funding awards that were sent to service providers reflected the omission of funding for meals.”

AIDS services grants funded by the government go through a complicated process.

What programs will be funded is decided by the regional Ryan White Planning Council. The Dallas council covers Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Henderson, Hunt, Kaufman and Rockwall counties. Tarrant County is in a different region.

Once the regional Ryan White council decides what will be funded, the Dallas County Administrative agency decides who will get money for the which programs and puts out the contracts.

The money comes from more than one funding stream. Part A money is from the federal government and Part B is from the state. Since the contracts were for a Sept. 1 start, which matches the state fiscal year, agencies assumed the funding cut was as a result of budget slashing in the Texas Legislature.

However, Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said, “No changes were made at the state level.”

And federal cuts would not have been made mid-year. The Ryan White budget year begins April 1.

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson was surprised to hear about the cuts. After checking with the Ryan White representative and the administrative agency, he confirmed that no cuts will be made to the meals programs.

“A revised allocation spreadsheet that reflects funding for both services is being processed immediately for submission to our contracts management division,” Cantu confirmed. “Revised awards are expected to be processed in time so that services are not impacted.”

The cuts would have had a greater impact on AIDS Interfaith than Resource Center. The $50,000 that AIN receives annually represents about a third of the agency’s budget for its meals program. RCD receives about $30,000, representing a much smaller portion of its meal program budget.

RCD serves lunch during the week. AIN serves breakfast and lunch weekdays and sometimes provides dinner on Saturday evening.

About half of the 200 people that access AIN’s program are among the most vulnerable and most compromised of those with HIV in Dallas. Many are homeless.

Without the meals program, they wouldn’t be able to take their medications.

Despite receiving the email that notified them of the funding cuts just three weeks before they were to take effect, both agencies were committed to continuing their meals programs.

“For the short run, we plan to sustain the program,” AIN Executive Director Steven Pace said before the county discovered the error.

Earlier this month, AIN received a $25,000 grant from the MAC Cosmetics AIDS Fund that would have helped continue the program temporarily.

“$50,000 is a small investment for a big return,” Pace said, adding that one emergency room visit to Parkland Hospital by someone sick from malnutrition could have cost the county more than an annual outlay to feed hundreds of people.

Micki Garrison, nutrition center supervisor for RCD, agreed. She said that without food, people with HIV cannot take their pills.

Several years ago, RCD lost much of its meals program funding from the government and made arrangements with the North Texas Food Bank to buy low-cost pans of food that form the basis of the daily lunches served. RCD supplements that with vegetables, side dishes and desserts.

Garrison worried that NTFB would face cuts in its budget, much of which comes from federal grants.

“If that’s threatened, there’s a big piece we cannot replace,” Garrison said.

Carrie Clark of the NTFB said that at the present time, her agency is not worried about any loss of funding and looked forward to continue working with RCD.

—  John Wright

AIDS Interfaith didn’t win the Toyota, so we’ll just have to go ahead and buy them one

Steven Pace

As we informed you Monday, Dallas’ AIDS Interfaith Network didn’t win a new Toyota in the company’s 100 Cars for Good contest on Sunday. The Toyota went to the Food Bank of Lincoln, Neb., which we’re sure really needs it. We still haven’t seen the final vote totals, so we don’t know how close AIN came, but Executive Director Steven Pace says the agency “did well.” And guess what? Despite coming up short in the contest, AIN still needs a new vehicle to transport its HIV-positive clients — about half of whom are homeless — to and from medical appointments, etc.. And if everyone who voted in Sunday’s contest — and especially the slackers who didn’t — pitches in a few bucks, the agency could probably get one. From Pace:

The results are in, and unfortunately AIN did not come out on top in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest. However, thanks to you we did well. We are moved by and grateful for the outpouring of support from people like you, in the Dallas area and beyond.

We are also thankful to Toyota for selecting us as a finalist in this contest. Originally AIN was one of 5,000 organizations that applied; then we became one of 500 finalists; and then AIN was one of five organizations competing Sunday. We were honored to be considered alongside four other very worthy organizations, and extend our congratulations to the Food Bank of Lincoln, who will use their new Toyota to help people living in poverty in southeast Nebraska.

Our 18-hour “get out the vote” effort yesterday gave us the chance to meet so many new friends, and gave us the opportunity to tell them more about the life-saving services AIN provides for people living with HIV/AIDS, especially transportation. And anytime we can do that, it is always a win!

Although we didn’t win the Toyota, we still need to buy a new vehicle to ensure clients get to the medical care, food, and social services they need to survive.
So we’re asking you to donate online today. If everyone who voted yesterday gave $5, $10, $20 (or more if you’re able), we could still purchase the vehicle we need.

Click here to make a secure, tax-deductible donation to AIN.

Thank you again for your support.

With gratitude,
Steven Pace, MSSW
Executive Director

P.S. You can also mail a check to AIN, 501 N. Stemmons Fwy., Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75207.

—  John Wright

Dallas Bears give big

Steven Pace, center, executive director of AIDS Interfaith Network, accepts a check from the Dallas Bears during the group’s annual banquet in June at Celebration Restaurant on Lovers Lane in Dallas. The Bears distributed $38,000 raised from the Texas Bear Round-Up (TBRU) held in March. Of that, $19,000 went to Youth First Texas, and $9,500 each to Legacy Founders Cottage and AIDS Interfaith Network. The 2010 TBRU not only set an all-time record for attendees (more than 1,200 people), the $38,000 raised is a club record for beneficiary donations.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 9, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas awarded $247K federal grant for HIV/AIDS program targeting ex-offenders

The city of Dallas has been awarded a $247,000 federal grant for HIV/AIDS prevention and education, according to City Manager Mary Suhm and Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who both called me first thing this morning to relay the happy news.

The grant reportedly is through a federal program called HIRE, which stands for HIV/AIDS Initiative for Re-Entry. Brett Wilkinson, director of intergovernmental services for the city of Dallas, told me last week that this program is geared toward education and prevention among HIV-positive people who are being released from prison.

Hunt said this morning that she was relieved to learn that the city had been awarded the grant given the council’s recent decision to cut $325,000 for HIV/AIDS education and prevention from this year’s budget. City officials have said they applied for the grant in July after it became clear that the budget cuts would take place.

“This is such a relief,” said Hunt, who introduced an unsuccessful budget amendment seeking to reinstate HIV/AIDS funding. “I know this has been such a serious concern to the GLBT community and me and other councilmembers who wanted to ensure that we had HIV/AIDS education/prevention funding. Thanks to the hard work of our city staff, we were able to attain a grant to address the very issues we were most concerned about.”

As I noted in this story last week, there is no guarantee that the grant money will go to the agencies affected by the budget cuts. Steven Pace, executive director of AIDS Interfaith, indicated that the city likely will issue a request for proposals, meaning it will become a competitive process and any agency that meets the criteria can apply.

—  John Wright