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Where Did All This Peanut Allergy Come F …

Where Did All This Peanut Allergy Come From?

Words by Ellen Bluestein


According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, as of 2017, 2.5% of children in the United States have peanut allergy. While that percentage may seem small, it translates to more than 1.8 million kids with a potentially fatal condition. 


“Probably about 20 years ago, it was clear that this was not only a growing problem, but it had already become a public health problem in the United States and around the world,” says Dr. Andrew Liu, a pediatric allergist at the University of Colorado. “I don’t know that we’re sure why or how peanut allergy has become so prevalent. But I think it’s pretty clear that it’s real.”


Researchers have been exploring several possible hypotheses. One — the hygiene theory — explores the idea that with the advent of germ-killing cleaning products, our environments no longer provide the exposure to microbes that the immune system recognizes and learns to fight off.


“What is a microbe-rich environment? One where we’re living around a lot of animals,” says Dr. Liu. “There have been a lot of studies where it looks like allergies are less common in kids growing up in farming environments or in developing nations where people live very closely to their animals. Some people think … that the immune system doesn’t see enough of those microbial exposures early because we’ve gone and cleaned up our environment.”


Early exposure to peanuts — between four and six months of age — may be one way to reduce the allergy. “The original observation was in Israel, where they had this teething cracker called Bamba which has peanut in it,” says Dr. Liu. “And they observed that within communities where this was a common cultural practice, the prevalence of peanut allergy in the kids was really low compared to what they were seeing in other communities.”


This led to more research and ultimately a definitive study on prevention. Children were given Bamba or a derivative, and then followed. Those who received the cracker were unlikely to develop peanut allergy compared to those who didn’t get it. “It looked like early exposure … when our bodies are learning about what is safe … is an essential time period,” says Dr. Liu. “If the immune system learns that the peanut is not something to be concerned about, then that stays.”


While there is still much to be discovered, Dr. Liu is optimistic that there will be remedies for those who suffer from the life-threatening condition. “There’s work going on to develop treatments to either reduce or prevent the severe reactions to those who are peanut allergic,” he says. “There continues to be investment in a lot of research … to try to get to that place where there are treatments that can be helpful for people and young kids who are allergic.”

The Science of Positivity

The Science of Positivity

“Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” — Michael Jordan

Words by Kay Kudukis


In the 1990s, a recurring skit on SNL called “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley” had Al Franken portraying an insecure, support group-addicted, self-help schlub in a cardigan. He was the antithesis of the popular, flashy, mindset gurus like Tony Robbins. Stuart would frequently look at himself in the mirror and say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me.”

Although Franken was poking fun at the new fad, it wasn’t very new. Over 3,000 years ago, the Greeks were writing meditations and guidelines touting the best ways to live. The idea is actually 5,000 years old, but back then there was no alphabet, which made writing hard.

By the 1800s, poets and renowned authors were onto it, but scientists didn’t take notice until the 1970s, when they asked, “Is there anything to this?” It took a few decades, and a lot of studies, but the answer is — in wildly unscientific terms — it’s definitely a thing. Turns out, there’s true power in the science of positivity!

Yes, science. The University of Chapel Hill conducts a Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory studying “how positive emotions affect people’s thinking patterns, social behavior, health, and physiological reactions.” Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic promote positive thinking to lower blood sugar and high blood pressure, and to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by lowering cortisol.

The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe, and yours is fueled by your thoughts. Ever heard that if you repeat a lie long enough it becomes the truth? If your brain is filled with negative self-chatter, it will come to believe it. If your inner monologue is positive, the brain responds, and your stress levels decrease along with your blood pressure.

There is another tool called “reframing” that makes you more productive. It’s where “I hate doing the dishes” becomes “I can’t wait to get these dishes done and have a nice clean sink.” Such positivity releases dopamine and serotonin into your system, and if you add a smile? Well, a study at the University of Kansas concluded that smiling is such a powerful source of endorphins that your stress levels go down even when you fake a smile. So now you’ve got a buzzy cocktail of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in you, and the dishes are done.

If you need a little extra help, DAP Health is here for you. Its medical professionals won’t do your dishes, but they do have some unique Wellness Services, including a Zoom group based on positivity and related to achieving goals.

Michael Jordan didn’t get to be the GOAT by talent alone. In fact, he attributes his success to positive thinking. He never told himself he couldn’t. “I can accept failure,” he famously said. “Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

So be like Michael. Flip that switch. It’s not going to make you a great basketball player, but you’ll absolutely, positively, win at this game we call life.

DAP Health Unveils Details of Its 2024 S …


Legendary entertainer Barry Manilow donates his performance. Nine local honorees jointly receive the Community Legacy Award. Desert Care Network is presenting sponsor.


Humanitarians of all stripes are in for an electrifying evening indoors at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday, March 30 as DAP Health celebrates its 40th anniversary at its biggest fundraiser of the year, the 30th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (AKA The Chase), presented by Desert Care Network.

Internationally heralded solid gold hitmaker Barry Manilow — the Grammy-, Emmy-, and Tony-winning longtime Palm Springs resident who celebrates his seventh decade in show business in 2024 — will donate his performance to the internationally heralded DAP Health in honor of the organization’s four decades of lifesaving work.

This year’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards not only pay tribute to DAP Health’s long legacy of protecting and expanding health care access for the most vulnerable among us but recognize nine honorees who represent every community member who has helped fulfill DAP Health’s mission since it was founded as Desert AIDS Project by Palm Springs volunteers in 1984.

The joint recipients of the 2024 Community Legacy Award are:

  • Mark Adams
  • Frank Figueroa
  • Keisha Halverson (AKA Keisha D.)
  • Patrick Jordan
  • Terri Ketover
  • Michael Kiner
  • Andy Linsky
  • Tori St. Johns
  • Susan Unger

Gala Chair Kevin Bass promises that this year’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards will be bigger and better than ever — a memorable, inspiring evening that will boldly underline DAP Health’s remarkable past, present, and future as it takes its unique place on the Southern California health care landscape.

Also of note will be the live auction, with longtime DAP Health supporters El Paseo Jewelers and Hot Purple Energy both donating packages worth $40,000 in honor of DAP Health’s 40 years of service.

Tickets can be purchased at daphealth.org/thechase


DAP Health’s goal is to protect and expand health care access for all people regardless of who or where they are, their health status, or whether they have health insurance. In 2023, the nonprofit (founded by community volunteers in 1984 as Desert AIDS Project) made a successful bid to absorb the Borrego Health system, enabling 1,000 health care professionals to serve a total of more than 100,000 patients of all populations, genders, and ages — from newborns to seniors — at a total of 25 Southern California clinics located within 240 rural and urban zip codes from the Coachella Valley to the San Diego coast.

Barry Manilow is a world-renowned, award-winning singer-songwriter who has captivated audiences with his timeless music for the last seven decades. Beyond his considerable show business achievements, the Grammy-, Emmy-, and Tony-winning Manilow is actively involved in philanthropy, having supported various charitable causes throughout his career. Time and time again, he has stepped up as a major benefactor on behalf of DAP Health. His charitable endeavors are proof positive of a commitment to making a profound impact beyond the stage, further solidifying his legacy as both a musical icon and a compassionate humanitarian.

Mark Adams has been a central figure at The Chase, having chaired the event in 2001 and 2002. His commitment to DAP Health extends beyond the gala, as evidenced by his generous donation toward the acquisition of the Barbara Keller LOVE Building on the organization’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs. Adams is deeply involved in cultural boards, including that of the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Palm Springs International Film Society. His involvement with DAP Health dates to the mid-1990s, showcasing a longstanding commitment to community well-being.

Dr. Frank Figueroa, the first openly gay elected official in the city of Coachella, has emerged as a trailblazer and advocate for inclusivity, making a profound impact in the eastern Coachella Valley. Previously having served on the Borrego Health board of trustees, Dr. Figueroa is a current DAP Health board member with a decade of experience in higher education administration. His history of prioritizing equal access to educational opportunities embodies values of integrity and compassion as he strives for positive change and serves as a beacon of hope in building an inclusive community.

Keisha Halverson (AKA Keisha D.) — a multifaceted figure in the Coachella Valley — has not only captivated audiences with her soulful voice but has also become an example of strength and resilience. In the face of personal challenges, including a health journey with lupus, she has continued her philanthropic efforts, creating the Keisha D. Music Scholarship to support high school seniors pursuing their passion. Her unwavering commitment to education and community well-being reflects her enduring impact as a singer, philanthropist, and beacon of strength.

Patrick Jordan is a dedicated AIDS activist, having contributed significantly to organizations such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Treatment Action Group, and notably, Desert AIDS Project/DAP Health. With a decade-long service on the DAP Health board of directors, including four years as chair, Jordan is a tireless advocate for health causes.

Terri Ketover, the founder of the “Do the Right Thing” program, which spans 65 cities globally, has been recognized by the White House. Her philanthropic journey includes nine years on the DAP Health board of directors, chairing the organization’s 100 Women major donor program, receiving the 2014 Steve Chase Humanitarian Award, and earning the 2023 JFK "Person of Valor" Award. Her unwavering commitment to giving back extends to roles with Palm Springs Art Museum, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Boys & Girls Club, and more.

Michael Kiner is a prominent figure in the Coachella Valley, showcasing not only his award-winning expertise in commercial and residential architecture but his compassion for giving back by contributing his leadership to organizations such as The Living Desert, Desert Cancer Foundation, and DAP Health, where he served as a board member in the ’80s.  He chaired the inaugural Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards in 1994 and the inaugural Desert AIDS Walk, further solidifying his commitment to community involvement.

Andy Linsky’s commitment to community service in Palm Springs spans over three decades, beginning in 1989 when he volunteered at DAP's front desk before joining its board of directors in 1990. Leading the board for five years, Linsky played a pivotal role in significant achievements, including the purchase of the building at 1695 North Sunrise Way, and the development of affordable housing complex Vista Sunrise I. His visionary leadership also led to the creation of the Partners For Life major donor program.

Tori St. Johns, a licensed therapist with 32 years at the Desert Sands Unified School District, is a dedicated advocate for the community, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ students. Her service extends beyond education, with longstanding contributions to DAP Health and various boards, emphasizing her commitment to community health and well-being. She volunteered her services to HIV/AIDS patients at the height of the epidemic, demonstrating her history of dedication to providing vital support to those she serves.

Susan Unger, a key figure in DAP Health's success, served on its board of directors from 2003 to 2008, contributing significantly to crucial initiatives. Notably, in 2008, she founded the groundbreaking 100 Women major donor program, engaging women in supporting DAP Health’s work. Susan’s diverse contributions include leading client focus groups, introducing the Building Connections initiative, and directing the successful Get Tested Coachella Valley public health initiative.



Desert Care Network



Harold Matzner


Kevin Bass and Brent Bloesser

Jim Burba and Bob Hayes

Patrick Jordan

Scot and Lance Karp

Barry Manilow and Garry Kief

Steve Tobin and the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation


The Hammond Family Foundation



Carolyn and Daniel Caldwell

Anthony Colantino and Craig Grantham

Bruce W. Finch and Keith Reimann

Eve E. Fromberg-Edelstein, Esq.


Living Out

Steven Anders

The Stonewall Group/Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Trina Turk

David Zippel and Michael Johnston


Coachella Valley Health Personnel


Perry S. McKay


Inland Empire Health Plan

Low Income Investment Fund

Palm Springs Disposal Services

Personal Stories Project

Henry Schein

UPS Stores


Alpha Media

CV Independent

Desert Charities News

Gay Desert Guide

GED Magazine

Joey English Radio

Palm Springs Life

The Desert Sun/Local IQ

The Standard Magazine


Kevin Bass (Chair)

Michael Brennan

Ron Davis

Grant Elder

Bruce W. Finch

Lynn Hammond

Cary Lowe

Rick Moran

Kasey Scott-Brown

David Sperber


Lonely No More

Lonely No More

Words by Ron Blake


According to an advisory issued by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on May 3, 2023, loneliness and isolation are a public health crisis — one causing devastating consequences for approximately half of the adults in this country.  

Evidence shows that increased social connectivity can combat this emergency, effectively reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and premature death for all Americans, including DAP Health patients. Surgeon General Murthy is therefore encouraging folks to cultivate a culture of connection, using no-cost medicine that’s all around us: people. He wants us to go out and engage with each other. 

And I’m here to be that loving nudge — to tell you it can be done, to get you moving in the right direction — by sharing a heartwarming success story that will hopefully inspire you to achieve a healthier life with no more seclusion.   

A 27-minute, Emmy-nominated documentary — The Blake Project on YouTube — was produced about my story. It highlights the significance of developing social connections.

But let me back up. I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression following a brutal rape and beating I experienced at the hands of three men. I isolated badly after that trauma. But an unexpected moment of laughter from “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” stopped me from dying by suicide at 10:44 p.m. on November 2, 2015. That heaven-sent disruption was the spark that ignited my very own Hero’s Journey, a particular kind of expedition and familiar literary theme that’s used in classic movies like “Star Wars,” “The Color Purple,” and “The Lord of the Rings.” It’s about answering a call to action, heading out on an adventure, facing down your fears, overcoming challenges, and then coming back home transformed and triumphant.  

I answered that comedic call to action from “The Late Show,” deciding to no longer isolate, and going out on my riveting adventure each day to engage strangers. By my being vulnerable with them about my trauma, something wonderful happened. People began opening up to me about their own personal ordeals and achievements, and we connected through our shared stories of heartbreak and happiness. 

Those strangers also got behind my mission to guest on “The Late Show” someday, where I will share the healing power of laughter and of making social connections. Through these new friends, I found a purpose in life.

Going out for 2,984 consecutive days on this ongoing cross-country hero’s journey, I have so far engaged 32,777 strangers, one by one. I also gave them a canvas to express themselves, and they contributed their words and images of support — in 94 languages on 502 giant foam boards via 27 colored Sharpie markers.  

Fingers crossed that someday soon I will be invited to deliver this massive, collective story of hope to Stephen Colbert on the air. To inform, entertain, and inspire millions of individuals to see that no one walks alone. 

I’ve come to realize that so many people in our DAP Health neighborhoods and communities care about one another. You are not alone. You are only one person and one conversation away from changing your life.  

So, this is your call to action. Answer it! Head out on your very own Hero’s Journey. You too can come back home transformed and triumphant over loneliness and isolation.  

Thankful Community Members Attend DAP He …

Thankful Community Members Attend DAP Health’s Third Annual Winterfest

Free food and entertainment were on offer alongside photos with Santa and gifts of toys, blankets, and bicycles for the children.

Almost 1,000 grateful community members from the East Valley — representing both current and future DAP Health patients — took part in Winterfest: The Third Annual Oasis Charitable Holiday Celebration, which was held on Saturday, December 16 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Centro Medico Oasis in Thermal.

In addition to featuring free food and entertainment, parents had their children take pictures with Santa before the kids received gifts of toys and blankets.

For the moms and dads in attendance — many of whom are migrant agricultural workers who may also be single and therefore the sole breadwinners in the family — the holidays are a joyful time, but also one of frustration and stress brought on by their inability to shower their children with treasures under the Christmas tree. Winterfest takes a very real burden off them, bringing smiles to every member of the family.

The open house, which took place predominantly outside, was made possible thanks to the generosity of community partners, volunteers, and DAP Health employees, many of whom helped raise the funds necessary to pull off the affair in grand style.

Taking care of emcee duties was Centro Medico Oasis Clinic Manager Israel Ochoa, who shared the stage with DAP Health CEO David Brinkman, Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, DAP Health Board Member Dr. Frank Figueroa, patient Antonio Galara of the Coachella Unified School District, and Samuel Lopez of Iglesia Visión Del Reino.

In addition to mobile clinic vans providing free testing plus flu and COVID-19 immunizations, community partners such as TODEC Legal Center, ER Funeral, Visión 7 Copromiso, FIND Food Bank, the Alzheimer’s Association, DPSS Adult Services, and California Rural Legal Assistance set up booths and answered attendees’ questions.

Entertainment was provided by the Oasis Elementary ACES and the Iglesia Visión Del Reino band. At a total of five raffles held throughout the afternoon, some 65 bicycles were given away to lucky winners.

“Do you know what’s better than seeing the beautiful face of a happy child receiving a toy, a blanket, and a bike at the holidays?” asked Brinkman of the 457 adults and 471 children in attendance. “Seeing hundreds of beautiful faces of happy children receiving a toy, a blanket, and a bike at the holidays! Look around you! And bask in the warmth of those smiles. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who helped make Winterfest a smashing success.”

DAP Health Opens Third Free Sexual Welln …

DAP Health Opens Third Free

Sexual Wellness Clinic


Joining existing clinics in Palm Springs and Indio, the latest facility — headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City — will emphasize services for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care.


On Tuesday, December 12, DAP Health will officially open the doors to its third free sexual wellness clinic, this latest outpost to be headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center, located at 68555 Ramon Road in Cathedral City.

Thanks to the nonprofit’s absorption of the Borrego Health system almost six months ago, its capacity to provide sexual health services to women and to LGBTQ+ people (including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care) has vastly increased.

DAP Health’s first such clinic was originally known as The Dock when it debuted within the Barbara Keller LOVE Building on the organization’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs in 2015.

The Dock was renamed the Orange Clinic in January 2023, when it relocated to the newly renovated, former county structure now known as the Annette Bloch CARE Building, across the way from the LOVE Building.

A second sexual wellness clinic, in Indio, was unveiled in July 2022. The two present clinics currently serve almost 1,100 patients per month.

Sexual health is of prime import to DAP Health. Just some of the organization’s achievements in this area include:

  • The Dock initially charging a flat fee of $125 for those without insurance, a significant step in increasing access. All sexual wellness clinics now offer most HIV and STI testing, and related services, at no cost.
  • Its June 2020 licensing of a mobile medical unit for STI testing.
  • Its July 2021 establishment of free sexual wellness services.
  • Its 2023 Creativity & Innovation Award, from the Inland Empire Health Plan, for its 2022 mpox response.
  • Its 2023 Center for Quality Improvement & Innovation Quality Award for Leadership in Quality Improvement of its Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.
  • A partnership with gay dating app Mistr to provide statewide virtual PrEP and virtual HIV care.
  • The reduction in wait times so that anyone with HIV — or anyone wanting to start PrEP — can obtain medication within 72 hours.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) recent announcement of the recipients of its 2023 Community Health Quality Recognition (CHQR) badges, which recognize outstanding health center performance in a variety of clinical areas, including behavioral health, maternal health, cancer screening, and HIV prevention and care, as well as overall quality performance. DAP Health was one of eight health centers recognized, in the HIV prevention and care category. 

In the nine months since its opening, the Orange Clinic has had:

  • 6,403 patient visits.
  • Almost 500 people started on PrEP for the prevention of HIV.
  • Almost 1,500 people treated for one or more STIs.

“With DAP Health’s free sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio at capacity, there clearly was sufficient patient demand to support a third location,” says DAP Health Chief of Community Health C.J. Tobe. “When we factor in the continued rise of sexually transmitted infections, duplicating our Orange Clinic model — where a free sexual health clinic is located at the same site at which DAP Health provides ongoing general clinical services — simply makes sense.”

Formerly part of the Borrego Health system, Stonewall Medical Center has long provided quality and compassionate health care to both the LGBTQ+ community and members of the general population. Its infectious disease specialists focus on patients with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and STIs. Stonewall also provides transgender health care, PrEP and PEP HIV prevention, behavioral health, and dental services.

As is the case in Palm Springs and Indio, Cathedral City’s sexual wellness clinic at Stonewall will be open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break closure for staff between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

All services will be free, and will include:

  • HIV / hepatitis C / STI testing.
  • STI treatment.
  • Pregnancy testing.
  • Birth control.
  • PrEP & PEP for HIV prevention.
  • Doxy PrEP and PEP for STI prevention.
  • A patient’s first two RapidStART visits once diagnosed with a new HIV infection.
  • The JYNNEOS vaccine to prevent mpox.

Serving on staff will be:

  • Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, whose focus will be on gender-affirming care as well as on those living with, or at risk of, contracting HIV.
  • Director of Gender Health and Wellness Jacob Rostovsky.
  • Gender Health and Wellness Manager Mita Beach.
  • Gender Health and Wellness Navigator Mateo Williamson, who will provide linkage to gender-affirming care, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Brandi Teegarden.
  • Sexual Wellness Registered Nurse Jody Cap.
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse/Prescription Coordinator Tiffany Burdett.
  • Early Intervention and PrEP Specialist Alexis Rocha, who will provide linkage to care and support for HIV and hepatitis C patients, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • PrEP navigators who can provide help with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • Patient Service Representative Jadira Hernandez, who will help with scheduling, take incoming phone calls, and facilitate patient check-in and checkout.

“It’s always all about access,” continues Tobe. “Having a new free sexual wellness clinic provides folks in and around the Cathedral City area a place closer to home where they can access no-barrier, no-red-tape, no-shame, and no-stigma sexual wellness care.”

He adds: “While the sheer existence of this new sexual wellness clinic makes me very happy, I think I’m most excited to be able to offer a gender health and wellness team at Stonewall, whose lifesaving gender-affirming care navigation services will be entirely free and accessed through the new sexual wellness clinic as well.”

“Trans health care isn’t typical health care,” says Gender Health and Wellness Manager Mita Beach, who identifies as nonbinary and queer, in the just-released fall issue of DAP Health magazine. “Typically, when people go to the clinic, it’s because they’re sick or because they have to go once a year for a check-up.” But trans people often need to see a provider more frequently, especially if they are receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy, which needs to be monitored.

“People of trans experience and nonbinary communities have increased rates of HIV acquisition, especially those of color,” says Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, in the same article. “We know that racism and stigma play the greatest role in driving these increased rates. Furthermore, when structures of power such as the police — or increasingly, legislatures — target and stigmatize communities, we will inevitably see worsening health outcomes due to exclusion.”

Halperin goes on to stress that DAP Health “must commit even more to this work. We must shine our light bright and far. Our clinics need to ensure easy and supportive accessibility to gender-affirming care. We must also continue to work in solidarity with those across our country.”

Those interested in making an appointment at Cathedral City’s new Stonewall sexual wellness clinic may call 760.969.5740.

DAP Health Continues to Fight for LGBTQ+ …

DAP Health Continues to Fight for LGBTQ+ Health Equity

 At the 2023 Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival, the organization will celebrate its long history of championing health care access for the queer community.

As it has done since the first Greater Palm Springs Pride in 1986, DAP Health will raise its rainbow flags high in the air and proudly participate in the 37th annual iteration of the event, to be held November 2 to 5.

With the recent integration of Borrego Health, DAP Health’s team now consists of 850 dedicated health care professionals serving 100,000 diverse patients in 240 of Southern California’s rural and urban zip codes, from the Salton Sea to San Diego.

In addition to hosting its DAP Health Wellness Pavilion along Palm Canyon Drive (directly across the street from Lulu California Bistro) — from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 4 and from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 5 — more than a hundred of the organization’s employees, patients, donors, volunteers, board members, and other supporters are expected to march shoulder to shoulder in the Sunday morning Pride Parade.

“Participating in Greater Palm Springs Pride is always a personal highlight of the fall season, not just for me, but for everyone who calls DAP Health home in one fashion or another,” says longtime CEO David Brinkman. “At DAP Health, we have always fought for the LGBTQ+ community, championing health care access for nearly four decades. Our acquisition of Borrego Health hasn’t weakened our commitment; it’s fortified our resolve.

“With our expanded size and reach, we pack a mightier punch in our quest for health care justice. Our unified voice, advocating for our communities alongside elected officials, is now louder than ever, and our team of dedicated care providers has grown threefold. We believe health care should know no boundaries. Our goal is to continue to honor the memory of those lost to HIV/AIDS by removing barriers, and by creating a more just world through equitable access.”

Employees from the nonprofit’s 25 clinics will carry signs emblazoned with the name of their home location. Others will carry placards sporting such slogans as “Mental Health is Health Care,” “LGBTQ+ Care is Health Care,” and “Drag is Love” (the catchphrase printed on DAP Health’s official 2023 Pride Parade T-shirt).

Riding in a vehicle just ahead of the group will be Donald Beck, one of the founders of Desert AIDS Project (as the nonprofit was originally known) who is this year’s recipient of Greater Palm Springs Pride’s Spirit of Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award.

Loudly announcing DAP Health’s presence will be a large assortment of blue/robin’s egg, purple/lavender, and orange/red balloons respectively spelling out the D-A-P of the organization’s acronym and hoisted high above a banner that will read “Together for Better Health,” a nod to DAP Health recently absorbing the Borrego Health system.

Also part of the DAP Health delegation, riding in a vintage convertible in glorious full drag, will be Les Dames du Soleil Dottie & Maude (AKA Douglas Woodmansee and Marshall Pearcy). The tribute is designed to honor the longtime married couple of entertainers — who were at the forefront of early HIV/AIDS efforts, raising much-needed funds for DAP at the dawn of the epidemic, when other resources and supporters were scarce — for their vital role in DAP Health’s history of LGBTQ+ activism.

“Long before our community had the economic and political strength we now proudly possess, before the emergence of LGBTQ+ advocacy or health care organizations, drag queens were tirelessly raising funds for our cause, one dollar at a time,” says DAP Health Chief of Brand Marketing Steven Henke. “They courageously championed our rights and well-being until we found the strength to fight for ourselves. We should never forget the legacy they forged in high heels.”

As for the Wellness Pavilion, it will be staffed with employees and volunteers from DAP Health’s community health department, who will be providing full, free sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, harm reduction services, and general outreach. Representatives will also be talking with attendees about the free pregnancy testing and birth control consultations now available at its sexual wellness clinics.

The Pavilion will also be home to a Recovery Oasis, where revelers can pick up information about DAP Health’s host of recovery services, including various meetings and its Outpatient Drug-Free (ODF ) program.

DAP Health Receives $1 Million from Cali …


The appropriation spearheaded by Assemblymembers Greg Wallis and Eduardo Garcia is earmarked for the expansion of the nonprofit’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs, and for the hiring and training of much-needed additional providers in various disciplines.

At 8:00 a.m. on Monday, October 23 at DAP Health’s main Sunrise campus at 1695 N. Sunrise Way in Palm Springs, California State Assemblymembers Greg Wallis (R-Bermuda Dunes) and Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) will present the nonprofit with a check for $1 million. This generous contribution, secured through Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2023-24 state budget, underscores the elected officials’ commitment to DAP Health’s goal of providing comprehensive, judgment-free health care to more than 100,000 residents at a total of 25 Southern California clinics located within 240 rural and urban zip codes from the Salton Sea to San Diego. At the ceremony, DAP Health Chief Operating Officer Corina Velasquez will welcome guests and reiterate the organization’s innovative, patient-centered, whole-person approach, which includes the offering of a host of wraparound services. Velasquez will then introduce longtime DAP Health CEO David Brinkman and the esteemed assemblymembers. “I look forward to expressing my deep gratitude to Assemblymembers Wallis and Garcia in person,” says Brinkman. “During this unprecedented period of growth for DAP Health, this funding will be instrumental as we hire more than two dozen new physicians and train them at our Sunrise campus so that our unique model of care can become the standard across all 25 of our sites. This show of faith from the assemblymembers — as well as from Governor Newsom and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting — means the world to us as we continue to seek financing for our growth in health markets both within and beyond the Coachella Valley.” Last July, Assemblymembers Wallis and Garcia announced the $1 million appropriation for DAP Health in the 2023-24 state budget, and earlier this year, Assemblymember Wallis recognized DAP Health as the 47th Assembly District’s Nonprofit of the Year, highlighting its outstanding contributions to the community. “I am truly inspired by the efforts of the dedicated professionals and over 400 volunteers associated with DAP Health,” says Assemblymember Wallis in a statement. “The funds we were able to secure from the state will support their endeavors to serve a diverse range of patients across various fields, encompassing HIV care, primary care, women’s health, and essential social programs. These initiatives play a crucial role in improving the well-being of some of the desert’s most medically underserved residents.” “The well-being of our medically underserved community relies on health centers like DAP Health,” adds Assemblymember Garcia in a statement. “Delivering this $1 million state budget investment will help DAP Health to expand health care services and support our region’s urgent workforce training needs.” 

The 2023 DAP Health Equity Walk Funds Ca …

The 2023 DAP Health Equity Walk Funds Care for Those Living with HIV


The Desert AIDS Walk may have been renamed the Health Equity Walk this year, but the fight against HIV/AIDS will forever be at the heart of the nonprofit’s work. On National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, DAP Health reaffirms its commitment to all those living with the virus.

Earlier this year, the internationally renowned humanitarian health care organization and federally qualified health center (FQHC) whose goal it is to protect and expand health care access for all people — especially the marginalized, regardless of who or where they are, their health status, or whether they have health insurance — made a successful bid to acquire the Borrego Health System, enabling it to now serve more than 100,000 patients of all populations, genders, and ages (from newborns to seniors) at a total of 25 Southern California clinics located within 240 rural and urban zip codes from the Salton Sea to San Diego.

To some, this expansion signals that the organization — founded as Desert AIDS Project in 1984 by a group of community volunteers determined to provide support, care, and treatment options to gay men with HIV who had been ostracized by the mainstream and abandoned by their government — is drifting from its initial mission.

In truth, HIV prevention, testing, and treatment remains as central to DAP Health’s work as it ever has been, and will forever remain so.

Indeed, it is precisely thanks to the nonprofit’s nearly 40 years of experience and proven success in the field of HIV/AIDS that it has been able to thrive and grow as it has. The agency’s hard-won expertise in providing health care to one marginalized community has permitted it to transfer its unique, patient-centered model of care to a vast array of other such groups, including women, people of color, the poor, the undocumented, those with substance use disorder, and more.

By standing on the shoulders of all those lost to HIV/AIDS, and all those living and aging well with the virus today, DAP Health’s broadened mission remains perfectly in line with that of its founders, whose singular goal was to provide for those dismissed by the mainstream. Expanding health care access is just one of the ways DAP Health honors the memory of those lost to HIV/AIDS.

“While I may consider myself to be somewhat of an open book, I realize most people don’t know I once experienced the stigma and shame of being gay, that I live today with HIV, that I once was unhoused, and that I long ago faced mental health issues,” says DAP Health Chief of Community Health C.J. Tobe. “I am a survivor who is as thankful as I am excited about the tremendous impending expansion of our community health department. I believe it is my and my team’s duty and privilege to advocate and fight daily on behalf of every member of our diverse communities — but especially for those who are LGBTQ+ and/or living with HIV — so that they may get the second, third, and fourth chances I received, which enabled me to see my bright future and to live my happiest and healthiest life.”

Just some of the ways in which DAP Health daily confirms its commitment to those living with HIV — while honoring the memory of the millions who have succumbed to the disease in the last four decades — include:

  • Providing free HIV testing and treatment (such as Rapid StART antiretroviral therapy) plus free access to preventive measures (such as PrEP and PEP) not only at its sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio (and soon at the Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City) but via its mobile clinic’s presence throughout the Coachella Valley.
  • Delivering primary, mental health, and HIV care to people living with the virus.
  • Offering a host of client wellness initiatives and other social services — including affordable housing at our 81-unit, on-campus Vista Sunrise complex at DAP Health Sunrise — to clients with HIV/AIDS.
  • Serving as the co-presenting sponsor of the Positively Aging Project, the eighth annual Coachella Valley conference on HIV and aging presented as a hybrid gathering (in person at the Mizell Center and virtually via Zoom) on September 23, 2023.
  • Donating $50,000 to the AIDS Memorial Sculpture created by acclaimed artist Phillip K. Smith III, which will be prominently displayed at Palm Springs’ Downtown Park located at Belardo Road and Museum Way.

At its 2023 Health Equity Walk — which kicks off at 9:00 a.m. at Palm Springs’ Ruth Hardy Park on Saturday, October 28, 2023 — DAP Health will honor long-term HIV survivors and those lost to AIDS via:

  • A special tribute performance by the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus.
  • The observance of a minute of silence.
  • A memorial pavilion where Health Equity Walk participants and supporters can display photos of loved ones living with, or lost to, HIV/AIDS.
  • The display, at the pavilion, of two AIDS quilts, one of which is made of 20 vintage Desert AIDS Walk T-shirts.
  • A keynote address by DAP Health CEO David Brinkman about what loss has taught us. 
  • A ribbon-cutting by DAP Health’s Community Advisory Board, made up of long-term HIV/AIDS survivors.

“The mission, vision, and purpose of DAP Health’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) is to advocate for its clients and patients while considering diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says CAB Co-Chair Michael O’Neill. “We CAB members congratulate the organization’s staff and leadership on its 2023 Health Equity Walk, which continues the commitment to existing and identified needs while expanding the lens throughout Southern California. This act of ‘paying it forward’ includes those often ignored or forgotten, giving everyone a place to be honored and embraced. We stand completely by this greater care and respect for all, marching alongside DAP Health with pride.”

For more information about DAP Health’s efforts on behalf of all those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, please contact Chief of Brand Marketing Steven Henke at 760.656.8401 or shenke@daphealth.org.

Behavioral Health Resources for the Lake …

Behavioral Health Resources for the Lake Arrowhead and Surrounding Mountain LGBTQ+ Community

At DAP Health, we recognize the profound impact trauma can have on individuals. Whether it’s the aftermath of a hate crime, perceived threats, or other distressing experiences, we understand that the effects of such events can be long-lasting.

It’s crucial to remember that healing begins with sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone who understands and cares. Even in a virtual setting, DAP Health’s dedicated professionals are here to support you every step of the way and provide a safe and empathetic space for you to process, heal, and reclaim your mental and emotional well-being.

We will continue to reach out to partner organizations to update this list of mental health resources that can be accessed in person or virtually. If you are a partner organization that can support the community, please use the form below to submit your organization’s information, and a DAP Health team member will contact you to validate your information before adding it to this list.

Lake Arrowhead LGBTQ+ (lakearrowheadlgbtq.org)

From the nonprofit’s website, its mission: We will create an all-inclusive, safe community for everyone. Our goal is to raise funds to create a LGBTQ+ Center for resources, recreation, learning, counseling, and health care. Our building will be available to anyone who needs it.

Furthermore: Lauri Carleton was not only a beloved mother, wife, and friend but a founding member of our Mountain Provisions Co-op community and a fierce advocate for love, equality, and human rights. Her tragic death has left a void in our hearts, but her vision for a more caring, inclusive, and engaged community lives on.

Lauri’s vision for a better world: Lauri was a pillar in our community, an unwavering champion of values that sought to break down barriers and build bridges. Her dedication to equality and her courage in flying the LGBTQ+ flag exemplify her commitment to creating a world where love knows no boundaries. The Lauri Carleton Memorial Fund aims to keep her spirit alive, by supporting local and inclusive community-building initiatives that reflect these same values.

SAC Health (sachealth.org)

A dedicated Lake Arrowhead support line was established at 909.219.6880 on 9.14.23 and will be available Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., for as long as needed. After-hours, the line accepts messages. Behavioral health offerings include individual in-person counseling for adults and youth (IEHP, Molina, Risk Management, Medicare, Medical). Virtual options are available (except for Medicare). Group counseling is available, with coverage requirements. Appointments for one-on-one counseling are available at the end of the month. Group sessions will be held virtually once a roster is developed.

DAP Health (daphealth.org)

DAP Health’s department of behavioral health provides services focusing on treating mental health and substance use with individual therapy or medication management, as necessary, and specializes in serving the LGBTQ+ community. Appointments are in person or virtual via phone, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Call 760.992.0450 to schedule.


Queer Works Therapy (queerworks.org/freetherapy)

Appointments can be requested online, with intake within 48 hours and the first appointment within a week. Behavioral health services include LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy (virtual sessions open to all California residents, with fees based on income level), LGBTQ+ trauma-informed therapy (specializing in care for victims of hate crimes or perceived threats), trans-affirmative therapy (focused on transgender, gender-diverse, and intersex care).

The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert (thecentercv.org)

Affirmative, virtual, low-cost therapy is available to all California residents. For more information, or to be added to the waitlist, call 760.416.7790, Ext. 3.


Photo courtesy of Mountain Provisions Cooperative, Lake Arrowhead.