BEST CHARITY Minneapolis 2006 - Minnesota AIDS Project
If you truly are judged by your enemies, then Minnesota AIDS Project is one helluvan organization. During last year's legislative session, the 23-year-old nonprofit group earned the enmity of Rep. Tom Emmer, a freshman Republican from Delano who can charitably be described as "eccentric." During his first stint at the Capitol, Emmer has proposed such novel legislative initiatives as chemically castrating sex offenders and permitting pharmacists to not fill prescriptions on moral grounds. MAP attracted his ire for its sexually explicit disease-prevention materials aimed at gay men. Apparently Emmer was not familiar with, nor supportive of, the practice of "fisting." His response upon learning that such sexual behavior was being openly discussed by MAP was to propose that the organization lose all its state funding, some $400,000. Never mind that state money wasn't even being used to generate the materials in question. Never mind that it's the largest AIDS-service organization in the state, providing vital, life-saving services to thousands of HIV-infected men and women across the state. From legal counseling to housing assistance, from HIV testing to case management, MAP offers a full array of programs to people suffering from the disease. In fact, last year more than half of the state's roughly 5,000 HIV-positive residents utilized the nonprofit group's programs at some point. And MAP's safe-sex materials aimed at gay men, however reprehensible Emmer may find them, are exactly the sort of no-nonsense publications that save lives.