The Austin Chronicle

Public Notice

By Kate X Messer, December 27, 1996, Columns

Hope for `97? Going back to the end of last October, the Texas Department of Health released its 1996-1997 edition of the Texas HIV/STD Community Resource Directory. The guide lists and cross-references the myriad public and non-profit AIDS service organizations across the Lone Star State -- which means it is of epic proportions. The annual directory was released on the heels of news regarding further evidence that current exploration in drug therapy is heading in the right direction.

Mid-1996's news that the combinations of medicines, including the new protease inhibitors, have been proven to decrease levels of HIV in the bloodstream caused shockwaves of hope. Further news in early November seemed to indicate that this combo or "cocktail" of drug therapy is also driving down virus levels in lymph tissue -- a critical test of any potential lasting cure. It is with perhaps an appropriately cautious optimism that this news is received. The research and drug industries are still that -- industries -- and as such, are driven by profit and politic: two fickle motivators we have learned on which not to hang our hopes.

No, the real hope still lies within all of us and within our volunteer care communities and within those brilliant scientists motivated by things other than stock options. Let's hope the news in 1997 continues to brighten. Meanwhile, if your organization might utilize the fine chunk of info compiled by the State of Texas, do call for your free copy. 490-2505. Kwanzaa `96 The Capital City Chamber of Commerce has announced that our African-American community is sponsoring its first annual city-wide Kwanzaa Celebration. Community groups host events on the seven days and in the seven themes (or principles) of Kwanzaa, including:
*Umoja (Unity), Thu, Dec 26, Rosewood Recreation Center, 499-6759
*Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Fri, Dec 27, Doris Miller Auditorium, 499-8713
*Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility), Sat, Dec 28, St. John Center, 302-4867
*Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Sun, Dec 29, Rosewood Rec Center, 459-1181 or 707-3207
*Nia (Purpose), Mon, Dec 30, Doris Miller Auditorium, 478-7176
*Kuumba (Creativity), Tue, Dec 31, Arthur B. Dewitty Center, 873-0595
*Imani (Faith), Wed, Jan 1, 1997, Rosewood Rec Center, 929-0933. Our Hope for `97 The market for volunteer hours and donation dollars can be a fierce racket in a town as wrapped up in care services as Austin. Massive service groups compete for the same dollars for which teeny grassrooters scramble. How can a group insure that its fiscal reality will meet its material demand?

No wonder nonprofits get lost in the fever pitch of free enterprise and capitalist competitiveness. Those bucks are precious and the causes just, so who can blame them for becoming business-like... hell, even ruthless in their approach?

Lest we forget, the demand for such services and alternate flow of community cash is a direct response to the howling canyons of need strip-mined by our success-happy society. If we had adequate structures and services in place to take care of our own, these frenzied calls to action and pleas for cash would be less desparate, and fewer organizations would feel the need to achieve their goals by any means necessary. What the hell does that say about us as a community?

When our primary caregivers must take on the callous bottomline tactics of CEOs and stockbrokers, we are in big trouble. Sure, corporations and big biz have always thrown piles of dough to certain organizations and causes -- and we want their goddamned money -- but what's the motivation? Tax cut? Public relations? Guilt?

For 1997, we wish for the directors and coordinators of our public service community to look deep inside to find answers for those questions. And to take a deep breath and look around. Appreciate the flanks who further your organizations' goal:

* Those front-line volunteers who carry out your groups' mission;
* Those founding members whose idealism and sweat provided a job and calling for you;
* Those donators who tithe 'til it hurts, not just to make themselves feel better.

We wish for all volunteers to realize your contributions to our society and understand the symbiotic nature of your work -- that without your time and love, we'd all be sunk. Any corporation which donates millions demands accountability, so should each individual who gives something even more precious -- from the heart.

The warmest of holiday wishes to you and yours from all of us here at "Public Notice".

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