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April 13, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 15
 
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Shifts in federal funding priorities affect Multifaith Works program
Shifts in federal funding priorities affect Multifaith Works program
Organization receives $47,000 in cuts for Shanti program

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Multifaith Works is dealing with a dilemma. Last year, they lost $10,000 in funding due to a shift in funding priorities for federal Ryan White dollars. This year, those cuts run even deeper.

"...[W]e have to accommodate the $37,000 cut from Ryan White funding and the overall reduction of Ryan White dollars from last year, which was about $10,000," said Arthur Padilla, Executive Director of Multifaith Works.

So far, the organization's donors have helped to bridge the gap, by making up for about a third of the cut. However, the burden falls on Multifaith to ensure clients are unaffected, but Padilla admits he has to be "realistic" about the future of client services.

Hardest hit will be the Shanti program, which is funded in large part by the Ryan White funds. The program provides "a link," according to Padilla, for people who are living with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, among other illnesses, and need support.

"We have to make a statement that public dollars cannot and must not be about pills, medication, and the minutiae of counting widgets," said Pedila, about the new federal funding priorities.

The Seattle Gay News spoke with Padilla this week about the cuts and the upcoming 12th Annual "Many Voices, One Song" concert at Seattle First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle) on Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 7 p.m.

. Seattle Gay News: Could you tell us about the recent, sudden cuts to the Shanti Program.
Arthur Padilla: As I am sure you've already heard, Ryan White funding changed significantly this year. When all the dust settled, the focus of the Ryan White Reauthorization is on core medical services and Shanti does not fall into this category as easily as other programs. What this means in the most basic of terms is that a priority is given to those programs and activities that can provide documentation that their services directly relates to medication adherence, access to health care or other mental health professional. With Shanti, we create a link for people who need support as they move through a variety of experiences. While anecdotally Shanti's support can make a difference in how a person takes medication, perceives their experience and can have a better life experience, this is not measurable one pill at a time. This distinction put the planning committee for Ryan White and the King County Health Department in a difficult place and decisions had to be made. Shanti's cuts are a result of that decision making process.

SGN: How does this affect services?
AP: The truth is that Shanti remains a viable and funded program. The immediate impact is that our services for those people living with AIDS may be compromised. We can mitigate that in the short term by increasing our donations from the community and other fundraising activities but we have to be realistic. Let me give you the fuller picture. In 1999 Shanti received over $100,000 from Ryan White to provide emotional support. These dollars went to recruit, train, and support community volunteers. In 2007 we are providing service to a much larger range of clients including incarcerated men and women in eight jails in the Puget Sound area. We also have clients who are living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other illnesses. All of these funds come from foundations and community fundraising dollars.

This year we have to accommodate the $37,000 cut from Ryan White funding and the overall reduction of Ryan White dollars from last year, which was about $10,000. This puts a strain on fundraising efforts. On the flip side, the community has been very responsive to Shanti and Multifaith Works and we have made up about one third of the cut. So if you are reading this and want to support the 120 volunteers that work in our community who serve over 350 clients a year, then, please send in a donation. Our website is www.multifaith.org and you can donate online.

We have to make a statement that public dollars cannot and must not be about pills, medication, and the minutiae of counting widgets. The whole person and their overall positive self perspective is crucial to being healthy and being a part of life. So take some action!

SGN: That sounds like an activist's statement (grin).
AP: We are not activist is the literal/political/advocacy sense by any means. I would consider Multifaith Works a community of peaceful activists though. Quietly and compassionately we confront discrimination, judgment, assumptions and stereotypes from all different directions. We bring Christians together with Muslims to help a family that is homeless and struggling with addiction. How is that not a bridge building activity? Five years later this CareTeam (volunteers) and CarePartners (clients) are a family and they truly love one another and are affected by one another is very significant ways. If that makes us activist, then, let's march!

SGN: OK. I hear you loud and clear. I think your words could be directly related to your upcoming concert. Haven't you been doing this for about 10 years now?
AP: Twelve years this year and it is bigger than ever. Last year, we had over seven hundred people attend. And yes, you are right, this is another way for us to be peaceful activists. The concert is the brainchild of Trudy James who was the coordinator of Multifaith Works CareTeams for over nine years. She felt a strong need to bring together a very diverse mix of musicians and singers to make a statement about diversity and building bridges. This has become an annual event for Multifaith Works that the community has come to expect.

This year, we have Seattle's Kokon Taiko, an acclaimed Japanese-American drum performance group, Quichua Mashis, music and culture from the Andes in Northern Ecuador, Captain Smartypants, an ensemble of the Seattle Men's Chorus, Blind Shoemakers Union, american roots Sufi music, and Shades of Praise Gospel Choir, from St. Therese Parish, Seattle. As you can tell, this is a great combination.

The concert is on April 19, 2007 and will be held at Seattle First Baptist Church, (1111 Harvard Avenue, Seattle). The concert starts at 7:00 p.m. and, yes, you can get tickets online at www.multifaith.org.

Also, this relates directly to the previous question about Shanti and how to support the program. Coming to the concert and making a gift at the concert is a great way to see what we do and how we do it and to make a contribution to Multifaith Works.

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