One of the most valuable programs at ASA owes its success to its grassroots volunteers. Further proving that when Austinites come together, they can have an amazing impact on the lives of fellow members of their community.
During roughly two decades of fighting HIV and AIDS in Austin, ASA has given hundreds of clients emergency financial assistance from the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund. Contributions to the Fund pay for prescription co-pays, rent, utilities and other critical necessities, when restricted funds, such as government grants, cannot be used.
Who was Paul Kirby?
Paul Kirby was an extraordinary man who watched many of his loved ones contract and pass away from HIV and AIDS. Not only did he help start the first support group for people living with HIV in Austin, he also became a full-time volunteer at ASA, spending hours on the phone with newly-diagnosed persons, visiting hospital rooms, driving people to medical or Social Security appointments, etc.
After his own diagnosis, Paul read every report he could find about new treatments for AIDS and its opportunistic infections. He quickly became a source of information for dozens of people and was frequently interviewed by the local media. His visibility and his eloquence in sharing his experiences with AIDS were critical in the effort to dispel the hysteria so prevalent in the epidemic’s early years.
Unfortunately, Paul didn’t live to see effective anti-retroviral treatments, but his example has inspired countless people to give through the Octopus Club and the fund created in his honor has improved the lives of hundreds of people.
What does The Paul Kirby Emergency Fund do?
Many clients who are fall into financial hardship face difficult decisions: Do I pay for rent or medication? Do I use my limited funds to buy food or a bus pass to see my doctor? At ASA, our goal is to help our clients focus on their health and manage their condition.
Over the past 25 years, ASA has been able to assist clients in many different ways.
- A mother in an unsafe situation was able to escape with her children, purchase bus tickets using emergency funds, and move across the country to safety.
- A newly-diagnosed single father with high medical bills was able to pay rent and utilities using emergency funds, and was then able to meet his insurance deductible to cover his medications.
- A young woman needing vitamins not covered by insurance was able to purchase supplements, helping her increase the effectiveness of her medication, and avoid future health issues.
25 Years and Counting: The Octopus Club
This year, the Octopus Club celebrates 25 years of throwing great parties for a great cause! Every penny raised from Octopus Club events such as the Rubber Duck Party, Art Erotica, and OctoTea go straight to the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund. Last year, they hit the $2 million mark! They’ll be celebrating this Sunday at the Mexic-Arte Museum.
The Octopus Club is an entirely grassroots, volunteer-driven organization that has one goal: Help Central Texans affected by HIV and AIDS. Learn more.