Friday, August 15, 2003

HIV/AIDS agency bolstered

$1 million donation helps start endowment

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Greater Cincinnati non-profit agency that provides housing for people infected with HIV or AIDS announced Thursday that it has received a $1 million gift from a Cincinnati philanthropist.

Officials at Caracole Inc. said the contribution is the largest ever received by the agency in its 16-year history.

"For a smaller non-profit like us, a gift of this size is very uncommon," said Whitney O'Neal, Caracole's director of development and marketing. "It came as a very pleasant surprise."

The agency's board of directors decided the gift would not be used to fund current operations, but rather to establish an endowment to help meet the changing and future needs of people affected by HIV and AIDS. The $1 million gift is the first major contribution to the endowment, which is scheduled to launch in early 2004.

"This gift came to us because a concerned citizen knew the tremendous need in our community," said Sue Butler, executive director of Caracole. "Caracole's need for support is greater than ever due to shrinking government funds and increasing need for AIDS services."

Caracole officials would not release the name of the donor at his or her request.

Caracole provides housing and supportive services to about 200 Greater Cincinnati residents and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Since opening its doors in 1988, the agency has helped more than 700 people.

It operates two residential communities, the Shelter Plus Care program that houses hundreds of people and technology assistance program that serves more than 100 local housing and social service agencies. Most of Caracole's funding comes from corporate and private donations, foundation grants and government funds.

Caracole Board President James Jackson said the donation comes at a time of record demand for the agency's services. Jackson said that Cleveland is the only other Ohio city with more people living with AIDS.

"One person made a decision that will improve hundreds of lives for decades to come," Jackson said. "We are beyond thankful for the lasting legacy this gift creates."


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