Ptown AIDS group forced to end stipend

State budget cuts are hurting the most vulnerable

The AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod has been forced to eliminate a program that provided clients with a $50-per-month stipend to enhance their quality of life. The move was necessitated as part of a campaign to reduce a looming budget deficit caused by cut-backs in state funding.

Board members of the organization meeting in Hyannislast week pledged to address a deficit of $168,800 and take the necessary steps to end fiscal year 2005 with a balanced budget.

MISSION STATEMENT:

The mission of the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod is to provide services to persons living with HIV and AIDS within Cape Cod communities that maintain and enhance their quality of life, and provide health education, prevention and harm reduction outreach to Barnstable County via timely and accurate information about HIV/AIDS, STDs and Viral Hepatitis. The services and outreach will be consumer driven and family centered, however family is defined.


Provincetown Office
Tollfree: 1.800.905.1170
Tel: 1.508.487.9445 
Hyannis Office
Tollfree: 1.866.990.2437
Tel: 1.508.778.1954
Email:  [email protected]

The deficit is blamed mainly on recent cutbacks in state funding to the organization.

While the core programs of the AIDS Support Group remain in place, the board cut the $50-per-month nonmedical reimbursement fund, used by clients for a variety of purposes including vitamins, massage and gym memberships.

AIDS Support Group interim director Laura Thornton said that, so far, clients have been understanding about the end of the stipend.

 "Basically, clients have been saying it was really nice and we really appreciated it while we had it," Thornton said. "And we never expected it to last."

Nearly half of the group's approximately 440 clients participated in the stipend program, Thornton said.

According to Austin Knight, president of the group's board, cutting the program, which has been in place for at least 10 years, will save the organization approximately $10,000 per month, and a total of $40,000 by June 30, the end of fiscal 2005.

In an attempt to soften the blow, the board voted to set aside $5,000 to provide low-income clients with fuel and housing assistance. The board also voted to raise an additional $51,000 by June 30 toward the deficit.

Seventy-five per cent of the AIDS Support Group's $1.5 million budget is provided by the state. According to interim director Laura Thornton the group ended fiscal year 2004 nearly $60,000 in the red.

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