When Dr. Ronald G. Curran was hired 10 years ago as the executive director of the Western North Carolina AIDS Project, the nonprofit was struggling. The nonprofit’s financial picture was so bleak that both the state and the Asheville-Buncombe United Way deemed WNCAP’s survival to be “at risk.”
Those associated with WNCAP give Curran credit for turning the organization around. Today, WNCAP is a regional leader in HIV/AIDS prevention and care and has $140,000 in reserves with an annual budget of $730,000.
WNCAP will soon be without Curran, who plans to retire June 30. As he nears retirement, Curran says he will miss the clients that WNCAP serves.
“I’ll miss the folks that I work with and the board of directors who have been very supportive,” he says. “I’ll also miss the clients that we serve. I really take pleasure in seeing their successes and our ability to help them to improve their lives.”
Curran says he won’t completely retire. He hopes to continue working in some capacity with nonprofits as well as manage his 5-acre horse farm. Looking back on his career at WNCAP, Curran says the organization strives to help those infected with HIV and AIDS.
“I’m impressed with the quality of the services that we provide to individuals,” Curran says. “We’ve also developed programs to attack the stigma that folks have about HIV and AIDS and hopefully make living in this part of the state a little easier for people who are infected.”
During Curran’s tenure, WNCAP moved to its current location on Fairview Road, retired $50,000 of mortgage debt, and partnered with Western North Carolina Community Health Services to form the Appalachian HIV Wellness Network. HIV case management services were also expanded to 19 counties.
Curran says the number of clients WNCAP serves is holding steady at 450 individuals. He says WNCAP works hard to educate people about AIDS awareness and to make healthy decisions.
“Our number of clients has remained pretty stable,” he says. “Some clients leave us and others come in, so we’re hopefully working toward keeping new infections down in the region. I think our prevention programs are assisting with that and making people aware. We’re working with young people and making them aware of the need to practice a good lifestyle.”