Weatherford Democrat

July 1, 2011

Funding cuts to shut down AIDS Resources of Rural Texas

Sally Sexton
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — After more than 18 years of providing support and medical services, AIDS Resources of Rural Texas will be closing its offices in Weatherford and Abilene due to funding cuts.

“We’ve been here a long time, and we’re pretty upset about it,” program director Joy Gray said.

Both locations will be closed as of Sept. 1, and the clinic is asking clients to begin making appointments with other medical providers, and to call 817-596-3022 to sign a release and have medical records forwarded. These records will be available for transfer until Aug. 15. The last day for free HIV testing is July 31.

The organization has gotten the bulk of its financial resources from federal funding, but it is also a recipient of United Way funding, used mainly to help supplement the food pantry.

Originating in Parker County, AIDS Resources began simply as an HIV support group founded in the late 1980s by three Parker County individuals who were either directly or indirectly affected by HIV or AIDS.

“From there, the group gathered support and volunteers throughout the community,” Gray said. “As it continued to grow, it was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1993.”

Additional state and federal funding was obtained, and by the end of 1995, services had been expanded and the budget for AIDS Resources of Rural Texas had grown to more than $95,000.

AIDS Resources of Rural Texas provides a wide range of services, including HIV/AIDS primary care clinics with a professional staff, as well as social services of primary medical care, HIV/AIDS testing, housing and utilities assistance, emergency financial assistance, individual and group counseling, a food pantry, transportation, volunteer services and a buddy program, prevention education and patient education.

The Weatherford office, located at 250 Santa Fe Drive, Suite 101, serves seven counties — Erath, Hood, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell and Wise — while the Abilene location serves more than 15 counties.

“In our area, it’s going to be difficult for some clients to transition because the only area near is Fort Worth,” Gray said. “Some of them don’t have automobiles, which provides a transportation problem.”

While the organization has seen smaller cuts the past few years, a big funding hit last year sealed their fate.

“As with all nonprofits, there have been a lot of cuts in the organization,” Gray said. “Our funding was cut mainly last year, where we lost the biggest amount of money.

“We’ve had some layoffs and pay cuts, but the employees we have here now will just be out of work, in both locations, most likely.”