By Andy Smith
The majority of BC/EFA’s national grants are relatively small ($5,000), but help fill key financial holes left by reduced federal funding.
For Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO), a multi-service non-profit serving Alabama’s largest city, a recent $5,000 grant fed families living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS for two months.
“Birmingham AIDS Outreach uses the funds from BC/EFA on our food closet program. Each month, each HIV+ individual is eligible for one food box and nutritional supplements,” says Executive Director Karen Musgrove.
“BAO is allotted $40,000.00 a year for the food box program through the Ryan White Title II funding, but these funds usually run out two months before the grant cycle ends. BAO supplements the Ryan White funds with its BC/EFA grant to continue the food box program for the last two months.
A Full Plate of Services
With a staff of 12 full-time and five part-time employees as well as a wealth of hard-working volunteers, BAO, founded in 1985, is able to provide an impressive menu of services to PWAs in the Birmingham area.
In addition to food boxes and nutritional supplements, BAO offers: transportation assistance; clothing, linens, etc.; emergency payments for medications, medically necessary equipment and more; professional counseling; support groups; GED and literacy classes; legal services and more.
The organization helps area teens through its Youth Advisory Council, which targets adolescents through peer prevention and education. It also supports “Brother to Brother,” a secondary prevention and education program for HIV-positive men and their partners.
The organization’s funding comes from many sources, but BAO works hard to generate funds locally through an ambitious and creative schedule of events, including: October’s Magic City AIDS Walk, which is sponsored by BAO, though walkers can donate to other AIDS Service Organizations and HIV Clinics in the Birmingham area, and February’s Valentine Dine,which includesindividual dinners throughout the city featuring desserts, champagne and a celebrity plate auction, featuring plates hand-painted by A-list celebrities like Bono and Madonna (their plates are pictured above).
BAO BINGO – held once a month in the basement of BAO – features a different drag queen emcee each month. “March was our 1-year anniversary and we have raised $19,000 in the first year,” Musgrove says.
May’s Arty Party is an art auction with a featured artist each year. This year’s event will be held May 20.
All these initiatives have helped BAO – Alabama’s oldest largest non-profit and community-based AIDS services and prevention education network – continue to thrive while other service providers have reduced services or even closed their doors.
For more information about BAO, visit the organization’s website at www.birminghamaidsoutreach.org.