Positive Resource Center (PRC) had a noble and humble beginning. In 1987, a former Social Security employee named Patrick James, along with a small cadre of committed volunteers, founded AIDS Benefits Counselors (ABC). Driven by a deep desire to help those affected by HIV navigate their way through the cumbersome disability process, volunteer-based ABC operated out of people’s homes for months without financial support. Later that year, with a modest but meaningful gift of $500 from People with AIDS–San Francisco, along with pro bono legal services provided by Pettit & Martin, ABC filed for its incorporation and tax exempt status.
Over the next year, ABC remained home-based and survived on small contributions from clients and friends, operating on about $200 monthly. In March of 1989, founder and key volunteer Patrick James died of complications from AIDS. ABC was devastated by the loss, but did its best to regroup and find creative ways to continue to provide the same level of service using legal interns and volunteers. Over the next few years, ABC moved from California Street to the Castro District, hired staff, and received first-time local government funding from the Department of Public Health and first-time Federal funding through the Ryan White CARE Act. By the end of 1991, ABC had an operating budget of $14,698 and two full-time staff members.
Meanwhile in 1992, the Life Center, a local HIV/AIDS service provider, was approached by community members to help develop employment resources for people living with HIV/AIDS and Positive Resources was founded. Four years after the program’s formation, the Life Center fell on hard financial times. The Life Center’s Board of Directors put the Positive Resources program out to bid and entertained offers from various non profits, ultimately accepting ABC’s offer in 1996. After operating in separate locations for two years, ABC and Positive Resources came together under one roof in 1998 at 973 Market Street. The agency officially changed its name to Positive Resource Center in 1999.
While San Francisco was suffering from an economic downturn, in great part due to the dot com bust, PRC experienced its own financial crisis. After a three-year period of development, the end of a large government contract in 2001 necessitated a staff reduction of 37%. For the next two years, the community rallied around PRC, donating professional services and hosting beer busts and other third party fundraisers while PRC worked hard to replace the lost funding. The combined efforts kept the agency afloat long enough to secure state funding to support Employment Services and local government funding to support a mental health pilot project for the Benefits Counseling Program.
Since then, PRC has experienced extraordinary growth. PRC modified its Mission Statement in 2004 to expand services to people at risk for HIV/AIDS including those with mental health disabilities. Despite periods of a weak economy, government cutbacks and an overall shrinkage in private funding, PRC has been successful in identifying new streams of revenue that support our continuum of comprehensive, client-centered HIV/AIDS and mental health services. We have controlled our expenses while successfully meeting our revenue goals and have made a concerted effort to build a strong infrastructure that supports our growing programs. Through all areas of the agency, PRC has strived to be culturally competent, represented by a diverse Board and staff that mirror the broad spectrum of our clients and the community. Ultimately, the defining measurements of our success are the life changing outcomes we have obtained for our clients in both the Benefits Counseling and Employment Services Programs over our twenty-nine-year history.