Telluride AIDS Benefit beneficiary, WestCAP: Client speaks out

Telluride AIDS Benefit beneficiary, WestCAP: Client speaks out

[click “Play”, an anonymous client speaks about WestCap and how Telluride AIDS benefit helped him]

The Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP), the primary beneficiary of the Telluride AIDS Benefit,  was established as a grassroots initiative in 1989, just four years after “the virus” was announced in our nation’s capitol as big trouble.

In 1994, WestCAP was still a very small nonprofit operating out of Grand Junction, administered largely by one part-time nurse. Clients being served lived primarily in Mesa County. Then along came Robert Presley, whom WestCAP helped in his struggle with HIV/AIDS. In thanks, Presley and his local legacy, the Telluride AIDS Benefit, reached out to WestCAP, supporting the growth of the agency into a much larger and more effective nonprofit.

WestCAP now has a staff of eight, who provide a wide range of services: prevention and education to help reduce transmission, HIV testing to increase knowledge of status, and resource/referral information for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. WestCAP’s domain spans  22 counties on the Western Slope or 40,000 square miles, including 10 of the poorest counties in the state.

TAB’s dollars are essential because that pool of money can be used to provide services grant dollars don’t allow. Last year, the $45,000 WestCAP received from TAB were applied to educating populations grants were not reaching. TAB funds were used to expand HIV testing and to offset high medical costs, including alternative therapies. With the economy in crisis, WestCAP clients lost jobs along with hundreds of thousands of other workers throughout the country. Job loss also meant the loss of life-sustaining insurance. TAB funds helped clients stay housed, keep their lights on, water running, and food on the table.

Words are cheap – unless they are words of gratitude from a client willing to speak anonymously but openly about why he is grateful for the Telluride AIDS Benefit and WestCAP.

The client is a middle-aged Caucasian male living in the Denver area, diagnosed HIV+ before the virus was upgraded to a pandemic. When he contacted WestCAP in 2000, he was literally and figuratively at the end of his rope.

Click the “play” button and listen to his story.

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