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S.O.S. Donation to Help Local Nonprofits

In conjunction with the celebration of World AIDS Day, on Wednesday, December 1, Service Organizations of Smith (S.O.S.) will donate $4,500 to two local nonprofit organizations—Between Family and Friends and Tapestry Health Systems—that work with people infected with HIV/AIDS. The funds arrive at a critical time for the organizations as budget cuts threaten the elimination of some of their services.

Between Family and Friends, which provides support to infected individuals as well as to their family and friends, will use its $4,000 award to support a congregate meal program for one year, according to David McKinney, program coordinator for the Springfield-based service. The congregate meals provide an important support system for the organization’s clients, many of whom are homeless, says McKinney, while also helping people stay healthy by providing nutritionally prepared meals.

Tapestry Health Services will use its $500 donation to cover the cost of transportation for clients to appointments with nutritionists and for nutritional food supplements.
State funding for services for people with HIV/AIDS has decreased by 40 percent in recent years, notes Lucy Hartry, director of administrative services at Tapestry Health Systems, which has offices throughout Hampden County. “The funding will help fill critical gaps in health-related services to help people stay healthy longer,” she added.

S.O.S. dedicated its annual fund drive this year to raising money for HIV/AIDS organizations in response to the fact that Hampden County has the 11th highest rate of infection in the nation, according to Tiertza-Leah Schwartz, director of voluntary services at Smith. Each year, Smith students involved with S.O.S. identify a critical local need and develop a campaign to raise money that is granted to local agencies. The yearlong effort involves fundraising at concerts by Smith singing groups, lectures, and other educational forums.

“The fund drive is important because it not only teaches students the fundamentals of designing a direct-solicitation fundraising campaign, but also because it educates the larger Smith community about local needs and issues,” Schwartz says.

For those at Smith who know the people who will be affected, the S.O.S. contribution is especially meaningful. Nicole Rosendale ’05, who has volunteered at Between Family and Friends for more than a year, says, “The people I meet there are amazing. They continually inspire me with their hope and their strength, not only in my activism, but in every aspect of my life. Volunteering for the center has truly opened my eyes and transformed me to the core.”

 

 

 
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