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October 14, 2008

'A big balancing act' for AID Upstate

AID Upstate began its work in 1987, “back in the day when people were calling and saying, ‘Somebody ate off my plate. Do I need to get new silverware?’” said executive director Andy Hall.

AID Upstate began its work in 1987, “back in the day when people were calling and saying, ‘Somebody ate off my plate. Do I need to get new silverware?’” said executive director Andy Hall.

Suddenly, more and more gay men who were sick began showing up at the Greenville County health department.

In response, the health department teamed with a nursing home to help the men meet end-of-life needs such as counseling and drawing up powers of attorney. They also took it upon themselves to educate the public about HIV.

Superstitions have faded, and more money is available to help those with HIV. But strict rules control how government money is spent.

For example, money allocated for medicines can’t be used to transport people to a doctor’s office or pharmacy. It can’t be used to provide food to maintain a proper nutritional balance or to help someone who has become homeless find a place to live.

“It has limited us from being quite as holistic,” Hall said.

The rules improve accountability and challenge the organization to find other sources of financing, but they also create a blizzard of paperwork.

“It’s a big balancing act for me. If we lose the funding, then everybody suffers,” Hall said. “But if we have all the documentation we need but no one is served, then we haven’t done anything either.”

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