The Winter is a Drag Ball in February was a huge success once again. The House of LeMay outdid themselves (somehow they always do!) with amazing entertainment. The PWA Coalition gratefully relies on the proceeds from the annual drag ball to help fund the summer retreat. The extraordinary generosity of House of LeMay provides much-needed funding to cover the costs of the Coalition's cornerstone event and programming. Thank you, House of LeMay!
For several years, The Samara Fund has given the Coalition a very generous grant to help fund the annual retreat and buyers coop scholarships, which give HIV+ Vermonters access to high-quality vitamins and supplements at reduced cost or free of charge. In March, the Coalition's executive Director, Amy Tatko, and the board secretary Sam Sanders attended a Samara Fund workshop on how nonprofits can use storytelling effectively to promote the mission of their organization in fundraising efforts, public speeches, mailings to members, grant applications, and more. Sam and Amy spoke to the group about the Coalition's mission, its history, the retreat, and the buyers coop, and they learned new storytelling skills. Just a week later, Amy put those skills into action when she wrote the Coalition's grant application seeking funding from The Samara Fund again for next year's retreat and buyers coop scholarships. We hope to report good news this summer when The Samara Fund notifies grant applicants of award amounts.
For those who are not familiar with the Buyers Coop, it provides a chance for any and all whether HIV positive or negative, to purchase expensive, quality vitamins and nutritional supplements at greatly reduced prices. The Coalition places a group order whenever enough individual orders are received to meet the minimum dollar amounts required by the two companies, New Chapter and Jarrow. We are able to buy their products at wholesale prices, and then we receive and additional discount for purchasing in large quantities. Scholarships of $210 per six-month period are available to HIV+ Vermonters who demonstrate financial need by completing a simple application. Already in 2016, we have received and awarded eight scholarships! The Coalition hears from new scholarship applications all the time, in part thanks to other ASOs who let people know about this program. If you would like more information, please call or email the office.
The monthly meetings of the Vermont HIV/AIDS Community Advisory Group, or CAG, are a valuable opportunity for all who work in and are affected by HIV care, services, and advocacy to discuss changes, concerns, and needs. Recent meetings have focused on the new funding process that will go into effect this summer, when the Vermont Department of Health will ask all grant applications for competitive review to receive funding for 2017 and 2018. At the March CAG meeting, we learned that the National AIDS/HIV Strategy and the Vermont Needs Assessment will guide the review of grant applications.