- Our Metropolis with Jennifer Morss
This is an excerpt from the radio show Our Metropolis, a half-hour issues and affairs program that airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and is hosted by Greenspun Media Group’s John Katsilometes. Tune in next week to hear the rest of this interview with Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) Executive Director Jennifer Morss. The 22nd annual AFAN Black & White Party is set for Aug. 23 at the Palms Pool. Go to the AFAN Web site for information:
The Black & White Party started as a house party, didn’t it?
A lot of people aren’t familiar with AFAN and the Black & White party started in 1986, and it started as a birthday party for two gentleman, and in lieu of bringing gifts, they asked people to bring canned generic food for our food bank. It was just a backyard party, then it grew to the Green Valley Athletic Club, then the Hard Rock, and now at the Palms, and we’ve been there for five years now.
Penn & Teller are on your “Right to Wear Red” list of VIPs at this year’s event, and they have been very instrumental in the fundraising efforts for AFAN events, especially the AIDS Walk in April. But they have, at times, been controversial, especially Penn Jillette, for their avowed atheism, which can turn off people of faith who might want to participate in AFAN events or who might want to donate. Do you have to take that into consideration when partnering with them?
We’ve definitely had some feedback through the years from different would-be supporters or organizations who would say, “How can you do this or that?” and a lot of times it is a matter putting your foot down and getting out and walking, or putting your support where your mouth is, and actually doing something. What we’ve found is, a lot of the people who complain are not the doers. So, he may say some things, but he’s also doing. And you can’t turn your back, as an organization, on that kind of support. He may say some things I don’t agree with, or other people don’t agree with, but his support stands above the crowd and as an organization you have to pay respect to that.
How much of the money raised goes back to AFAN services?
Only 19 cents of every dollar goes to AFAN administrative costs. The federal standard is 25 percent, and we maintain 19 percent for our overhead. The majority of the money raised goes to direct services and will help an actual person. Also, we don’t spend any more than 20 percent to put the event on – we don’t fundraise to have a party, we fundraise to build our programming, which is not the case with a lot of nonprofits who fundraise to fundraise. After 22 years of the Black and White Party, we should be at the point where we don’t need to perpetuate the event. We need to increase our services. This month AFAN had 55 new clients. We’ve been averaging about 40, so to hit 55 this month is a big increase. That’s a lot of people who were already HIV-positive but didn’t need services, and whose health had declined to the point that they needed services. It further drives home that we need fundraising efforts and why AFAN pushes so hard for the support of our community for those who are HIV-positive … When they can no longer work, when they can no longer pay for their medications, when their insurance runs out, when they need help with housing, and because of medical reasons they need agencies like AFAN to get them through their medical needs and the rocky time they are experiencing. In all of AFAN’s programs, our goal is to increase self-sufficiency, it is not to become a Band-Aid organization or provide care for someone for 20 or 30 years, the entire time you might be HIV-positive. It is to help you when you’re down to get you can get back up.