Red Ribbon Foundation awards $220,000 in grants

Continuing its fight against AIDS, the Red Ribbon Foundation (RRF), a Greenwich non-profit organization, recently awarded $220,000 in grants to 15 premier organizations dedicated to ending the AIDS pandemic.

RRF raises money to fight HIV/AIDS through a variety of special events, with its signature being a music-oriented biennial that has brought the likes of Sugar Ray, the B-52s, the Commodores, and the cast of Rent to lower Fairfield County. The proceeds of the galas are awarded as grants to organizations that demonstrate results, as well as promising ideas, for preventing the spread of AIDS.

This year, Red Ribbon awarded nearly half its budget to projects in Fairfield and Westchester Counties, including $12,000 to longtime grantee AIDS Alliance of Greenwich. AIDS Alliance, staffed by volunteers, is the only program that specifically focuses on the needs of Greenwich residents living with HIV/AIDS and provides comprehensive services to approximately 20 to 25 people.

“The AIDS Alliance of Greenwich’s board and the folks we serve are delighted to receive the $12,000 grant from Red Ribbon Foundation,” said Tom Mahoney, chair of AIDS Alliance of Greenwich and director of Special Clinical Services for the town of Greenwich. “It is because of Red Ribbon’s generosity that we are able to assist people living with HIV/AIDS in Greenwich and surrounding communities,” he said. “Red Ribbon is one of the few non-profits dedicated to raising funds so HIV/AIDS organizations can affect positive change on local, national, and international levels.”

Other local recipients of RRF grants include the Stamford CARES program of Family Centers Inc., which received a $15,000 grant.

“Red Ribbon is helping Stamford CARES get one step closer to a successful implementation of Project Good START, which focuses on early intervention services for people with HIV who do not know their status and provides them with immediate access to HIV care and treatment,” said Dennis Torres, director of Stamford CARES.

Information from the US Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in five of the 1.1 million individuals living with HIV in the US do not know that they are infected. Those unaware of their status are responsible for half of the 56,000 new HIV cases each year. Since 1980 when reporting became available, Stamford alone has been home to 1147 confirmed HIV/AIDS cases and 565 deaths.

Other New York metro area RRF grantees include Inspirica’s McKinney House and JumpStart Education program located in Stamford, Camp AmeriKids working with AIDS affected youth in greater New York City to promote leadership and peer education, Children’s Village’s Streetwise youth outreach program serving all of Westchester, Family Services of Westchester’s Camp Viva for AIDS affected families, Bailey House’s Project FIRST and the HIV Prevention Program of Montefiore Medical Center.

Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS, chaired by Greenwich resident Gary Dell’Abate, better known as Babbabooey, the longtime producer of the Howard Stern Show, received a grant of $18,500 to carry the message of HIV prevention at concerts across the US. Lifebeat reaches more than 250,000 young people annually through its tour outreach with acts like Jay Z and Coldplay.

Six organizations working in Africa received grants, including Nyumbani, a home for AIDS orphans in Kenya, and several HIV prevention programs striving to lower the risk of HIV transmission among vulnerable children and adolescents, including Grassroot Soccer, Global Camps, mothers2mothers, and GAIA: the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance.

Both mothers2mothers and Grassroot Soccer were praised by First Lady Michelle Obama during her 2011 tour of South Africa. Sadly, Africa continues to see HIV infections rise, where for every 100 people put on treatment, 250 are newly infected, according to UNAIDS.

Rounding out its portfolio, Red Ribbon continues to align itself with the crusading work of AIDS research pioneer amfAR, with a $10,000 grant for its GMT Initiative. This grassroots prevention program helps men having sex with men (MSM) in more than 60 countries where homophobia is rampant; in these countries MSM are at a particularly high risk for HIV due to stigma and lack of government response to the disease.

Red Ribbon, which was founded in 1994 by a local couple in Greenwich who lost their son to AIDS, has granted more than $2.5 million to HIV/AIDS organizations over the past 19 years.

For more information about the Red Ribbon Foundation, visit redribbonfoundation.org.

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