Christmas has come early for the Utah AIDS Foundation.
On Friday, an anonymous donor delivered a $10,000 check to help the foundation fund its assistance programs."This came at a critical time," foundation executive director Ben Barr said. "With the cold weather, there is a shortage in the supply of emergency housing."
The money came from the BWB Charitable Trust, based in Chicago, which is funded by an anonymous individual with an interest in fighting AIDS. Robert Perkins, a Chicago attorney, knows the individual and delivered the check to the Utah AIDS Foundation's offices.
He said the trust targets AIDS agencies that don't have large fund-raising resources but use a large part of their contributions to help those fighting the deadly disease. In its 11-month existence, the trust has contributed $200,000 to AIDS agencies in Chicago, throughout California and now Salt Lake.
Perkins said he was referred to the Utah foundation by an acquaintance. But when Perkins called the foundation earlier this week, Barr was somewhat skeptical.
After telephoning some contacts, Barr found the offer legitimate and immediately sent Perkins a detailed budget on how the money would be used. Perkins said the trust will remain in contact with the foundation to audit the money's use.
"This isn't a one-time donation," Perkins said. He noted that the BWB trust may also consider other AIDs organizations in Utah.
While the $10,000 donation is more than welcome, it is not the largest contribution the Utah AIDS Foundation has received. In 1988, the foundation received a three-year $250,000 grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. That helped the Utah AIDS Foundation build its operation to an organization with a $500,000 annual budget.
Most of that money, however, comes from private contributions. In fact, Friday's donation matches what the foundation receives from the state in federal pass-through funds.
Perkins added that public funding must increase if the country is going to successfully combat the growing problem of AIDS. In Utah, the number of AIDS cases increased from 100 in 1987 to 425 today. Barr said estimates of those with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, range from 2,000 to 8,000.
"The number of women and infants with AIDS is growing and it's not going to slow," Barr said.
But the BWB trust hopes its donations will be the catalyst to find a cure for the disease. "Our big hope is that they won't need this (money) much longer. We hope the scientific community comes up with solutions," Perkins said.