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AIDS Agencies Join Forces to Streamline Services

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RALEIGH — Three Triangle groups with the same mission are joining forces; TheAIDS Service Agency of Raleigh, the Triangle AIDS Interfaith Network, and the AIDS Service Agency of Orange County plan to become one by the end of the year. They hope to combine practical and spiritual programs to give clients all the help they need.

Mike Buono thinks using the Internet to connect with people in other countries is a powerful learning tool. Likewise, he thinks the connection between three AIDS agencies in the Triangle will be a powerful combination.

Buono was diagnosed with HIV in 1997 and appreciates the support he has received from the Triangle's AIDS organizations. He says combining secular and religious groups makes sense.

"Any time you have a disease like this, you start thinking about yourself and your soul and God," Buono says.

Officials hope that by putting their heads together, they will be able to do more with less.

Bill Brent runs the AIDS Service Agency in Raleigh. Debbie Long runs the Triangle AIDS Interfaith Network in Durham. Both say they can save money and increase their resources if they join forces.

"We're hoping to reduce administrative costs and shift moneys we were using in that area to programming," Long says.

"Part of this really came from people in the community saying 'Why don't you work closer together? Why do we get three annual solicitations from you as opposed to one?'" Brent says.

Stocking the food pantry at the AIDS Service Agency is just one of the many jobs done by volunteers. The new collaboration means more volunteers, and more clients benefitting from the fruits of their labor.

A name for the new group has not yet been chosen but Bill Brent will head the organization. The goal is to have one central administrative office, and then several branch offices in the three counties.


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