Grants, donations avert SWC crisis

Thanks to an influx of private donations from individuals and separate grants from the Lambda Foundation and Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Shepherd Wellness Community continues to operate without any cuts in its services to people affected by AIDS.

SWC board members had feared they would be forced to suspend operations Sept. 1 when a grant request the agency submitted for $80,000 in state and federal funds missed the filing deadline.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re hanging in there,” said Edward Shultz, SWC board president.

According to Shultz, approximately 50 percent of the estimated $30,000 needed to keep the agency operating through December has been raised. A $2,000 grant awarded by the Lambda Foundation will go to the SWC food pantry, and $3,000 received from Agouron Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the protease inhibitor Viracept, will cover the cost of mailing the agency’s monthly newsletter. Local bars have also held several fund-raisers to benefit SWC, but the bulk of the money raised so far has come from individual donations ranging from $5 to $2,000, said Shultz.

Those donations have made it possible for SWC to continue to offer its clients a variety of services, including regular biweekly dinners, assistance with meals, light housekeeping and shopping, laundry facilities, a support group, transportation and a drop-in center located in Hazelwood. There is no charge to clients for services, and SWC is staffed largely by volunteers.

Shultz told Out that while the agency awaits decisions on six or seven major grant proposals as well as a number of smaller ones, a number of fund-raising projects are currently in the works. A SWC prepaid phone card is now available for purchase at bars and a number of local gay-owned businesses. In addition, SWC and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force will be cosponsoring monthly gay bingos, which are scheduled to begin in November. Bingo has become a successful way of raising funds for gay and AIDS groups in other cities across the country, and organizers from SWC and PATF hope that success will be duplicated here.

Another project designed to raise funds for SWC is the One From the Heart cookbook. Scheduled for publication in December to coincide with World AIDS Day, the cookbook will feature recipes of the rich and/or famous, including Liz Taylor, Pope John Paul, Paula Poundstone, John Cleese, Stephen King, Sen. Edward Kennedy and the surviving members of the rock group Queen.

SWC board member Michael Bell, who is spearheading the project, said Michigan-based Borders Books has agreed to distribute One From the Heart exclusively in its stores in the United States and in England, France and Australia. The cookbook will also be available in selected specialty stores in Pittsburgh and at SWC’s biweekly dinners.

Copies of the cookbook will retail for $19.95, with all proceeds from sales going to SWC. Projected sales of the first printing of 10,000 copies could bring in enough revenue to keep SWC operating until the March 1998 granting period, according to Shultz.

To mark the book’s publication, an opening party will be held Nov. 30 at the Andy Warhol Museum. All Borders Books locations will hold events throughout the day Dec. 1 to kickoff the sale of the book and to commemorate World AIDS Day.

To make a donation or for more information, call Shepherd Wellness Community at 421-8747.

This article originally appeared in Pittsburgh’s Out. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.

The Q Archives and articles like this are republished here by the kind contribution of Tony Molnar-Strejcek, the publisher of Pittsburgh’s Out. Maintaining the cultural history of Pittsburgh's LGBTQ Community is made possible by contributions by readers like you.