Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letter to the Editor

(From Wendell Hicks, Executive Director of SAAF.)

Dear Friends,

As we are all hearing, reading and experiencing the economic challenges that our Nation is facing, I wanted to give you some good news in hopes that it will inspire you to take action, get involved, and continue to be supportive.

During the last year, SAAF has been proactive in preparing for financial challenges to the programs and services offered to people in Southern Arizona living with, affected by or at risk for HIV. I’ve personally met with many of you and talked about the need to get creative to not only sustain programming and services at SAAF but to be able to meet the increased demand of our clients as a result of the climate we’re living in. Thank you for your support and for your honest feedback. SAAF originated from three organizations with very strong grass roots activism and volunteer efforts and although it may look different today, much is still the same. SAAF still relies on community feedback, involvement, and support.

As a result of some of these meetings and phone calls, I’d like to share a few new things with all of you so that you are kept up to date on what SAAF, with the help of our partners, is doing to weather the storm.

First: SAAF’s vision is not to “hunker down”. We are a strong organization with an important mission and thousands of community members rely on the programs and services offered here. In times of stress I believe we must keep our eye on the big picture and look at new and innovative ways to expand while continuing to serve the must vulnerable.

Second: The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation’s Board of Directors recently approved a three year strategic plan which will guide SAAF through December 2011. The strategic plan was developed by staff with support and guidance from the Board of Directors. The plan used one guiding principal during the development process: well managed and sustainable growth. I believe this plan will help us to grow and will help to move our mission forward. For details on the strategic plan, please visit www.saaf.org.

Third: SAAF recently went through the practice of doing a “sensitivity analysis.” The analysis looked at worst case scenarios in case of critical loss of funding to any particular area. The result of this analysis is a list of SAAF’s top priorities to be maintained in order to best serve people in southern Arizona. Although acting upon the sensitivity analysis’ findings are not expected, SAAF feels prepared for whatever challenges we will see during this time.

Fourth: We would like to improve SAAF’s advocacy efforts and awareness in the community. To kick this effort off, we have 2 campaigns currently going on. I have drafted a letter (available for review at www.saaf.org) to President Obama asking for his action on developing a National AIDS Strategy within his first 100 days in office. But we need your help! To sign up and join this effort you can email your name by visiting the website, www.saaf.org; you can also call us at (520) 628-7223 (ask for Development) or if you’re in the office you can sign the proclamation at Reception. Please help us to take action!

In addition, SAAF has just embarked on an annual “Give 5” Campaign asking for people to support SAAF’s annual fund which helps to support programs and services of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation. Give 5 is an appeal to give 5 hours of volunteer time, a $5.00 donation, or spend 5 minutes with prevention staff learning on how to reduce your risk for HIV infection. It’s simple, easy, and we hope that you will participate.

To everyone who has been part of this fight against HIV, thank you for your dedication, support, and compassion to help others. You are the reason SAAF is able to continue what we do.

Wendell Hicks

No comments: