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Annette Bloch – The Gift of Giving

Annette Bloch at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards

The Gift of Giving

For the late philanthropist Annette Bloch, sharing her blessings was a way of life 

By Daniel Vaillancourt 

Over the course of writing the show script for the last 11 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards for DAP Health (formerly Desert AIDS Project), I’ve had many encounters with the extraordinary humanitarian Annette Bloch, who passed away of cancer at the age of 94 in her hometown of Kansas City last year. 

The diminutive philanthropic powerhouse spent winter seasons in Palm Springs, first with husband Richard, of H&R Block fame, then later in life — following Richard’s death, also to cancer — with life partner Andrei T. Muresan. Bloch was a quite formidable presence in all corners of our community, attending benefits, volunteering, or dining out with dear friends. 

It’s at DAP Health’s biggest annual gala that I personally basked in her aura, coaching her at rehearsals or bantering backstage during the customarily star-studded show. At soirées such as these, Bloch was perennially coiffed, dressed, and bejeweled to the nines. And she was always a funny, utter joy. 

One evening in particular is forever etched in my mind. It was at the 2018 event, where Bloch was to appear onstage alongside DAP Health CEO David Brinkman to make an astounding gift of three million dollars. Brinkman had asked me if I could escort her into the spotlight. Moments before her name was announced, I turned to her in the dark of the wings and softly asked, “Are you ready?” “I’m ready,” she replied. I took her hand, which was freezing, providing her unique twist on that old “cold hands, warm hearts” adage. “Are you nervous, Annette?” I uttered. “I am,” she whispered back. “I hate speaking in public. But I just love to give!” 

And give she did. That night, long before, and long after. To DAP Health, to other causes and organizations in which she believed, but mostly, of herself to her beloved Andrei, her treasured family, and her dearest friends. 

We’ve asked a handful of them to share their most precious recollections of Bloch, below. 

 

Andrei T. Muresan 

Exercising was an intrinsic part of Annette’s lifestyle and of who she was. So the image that most often comes to mind when I think of Annette is her going to the gym and working out regardless of the weather or her mood. This discipline speaks to the fact that when Annette would commit to something, she would stay true to her commitment no matter what. And her smiling face all throughout the exercise routines — together with her adorable, colorful workout outfits — point to the idea that Annette always found a way to derive enjoyment, to have fun in a commitment. I think “discipline” and “fun” are the two words that would faithfully describe in a succinct manner the essence of Annette’s personality. 

 

David Brinkman 

Annette lived her life committed to the power of positive thinking. No matter the circumstance, she elected to spend more time contemplating the good. When COVID hit, she was grateful to be at home with Andrei, living full-time in the desert and Zooming with her family each and every Sunday. On the hottest days of summer, she’d say, “David, I am so lucky. The bright sun is beautiful, and I’m in the shade reading books on the patio. There is no place I’d rather be than here with Andrei.” While the last years of her life were not filled with the travel and parties she once lived for, she discovered pleasure in the pandemic’s requisite isolation. And through focusing on the positive, irrespective of COVID, she found the exuberant joy and gratitude by which she defined her life.  

 

Mark Adams 

I was always struck by how down-to-earth Annette was. She never forgot her roots in Philadelphia and was always so grateful and appreciative about her good fortune. That’s why she was so generous to others. She would always say, after a gift was announced, or after making some other philanthropic gesture, “I'm just glad I could do it.” She didn't need accolades or applause. She just wanted to help where and when she could. 

 

Kevin Bass  

It was an honor to call Annette Bloch one of my dearest friends. She was kind, sweet, smart, generous, energetic, funny, and one of the most loving people I have ever met. Her positive attitude and joy for life were contagious. I always knew where to find her in a crowd; she was the one surrounded by people — who flocked to her because of her positive energy and love of life, very much like Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.” The greatest lesson I learned from Annette: surround yourself with positive people. Life is too short for negativity. She was a force!!!! 

 

Carolyn Caldwell 

Annette was one of the kindest and most sincere individuals I’ve ever met. Even though she was a very successful individual, she had the ability to make everyone in her presence seem special. A few of my most special memories of her are when she held my face in her hands and told me that she loved me after I gave her flowers for her birthday. I stressed over what to give to someone who has everything for her birthday. I decided to purchase a very nice floral arrangement for her, and she was so overjoyed that I thought enough of her to buy her flowers. I also remember when she was hosting a dinner for my dear friends David Brinkman and Will Grimm before they were married on a weeknight. I told her that since I worked in Long Beach throughout the week, I really didn’t think I could attend. Once again, she held my face in her hands and said, “It would really mean a lot to David if you were there.” I was able to adjust my schedule in order to attend, seeing it meant so much to her and also wanting to be there for David and Will. However, the most memorable and special thing Annette ever did for my husband Daniel and me was that she and Andrei invited us to their home for dinner. She didn’t cater the meal but instead prepared everything from scratch. Since Daniel and I lived in Kansas City for eight years, we enjoyed a traditional KC BBQ dinner. It was such a lovely evening. I will never forget how she always made Daniel and me feel special. We both miss her terribly. 

 

Jerry Keller 

Annette was a kind, generous person and a wonderful friend! My wife Barbara and she were a formidable team in the charity world. Together, they provided immeasurable support for so many people in need in the Coachella Valley. Most importantly, Annette was a shining example of the joy one can spread as she fully enjoyed her amazing, long-lived life. 

 

Terri Ketover 

An amazing, generous woman, Annette was the most positive person I have ever known and the most devoted, thoughtful friend. Her beautiful smile was a true reflection of her personality and soul. I remember when I became the chair of the 100 Women program of DAP. In the more than five years since its inception, its membership had stalled in the mid-30s. I told Annette that my goal was to grow the group to at least 100, and began soliciting my friends, more than doubling the membership that year but still short of my goal. Annette decided my mission was her mission, and at that year's Steve Chase gala, when she was onstage being honored with the 100 Women Award, she took the opportunity to challenge the women present in the audience to stand and make the $1500 annual commitment to help me reach my goal. Forty women answered Annette’s call that night, raising more than $60,000 and growing the 100 Women ranks to 125! Annette will be remembered with love by all who were fortunate enough to know her and by all of the clients whose lives she impacted through her tremendous support of DAP. 

 

David Zippel 

In addition to being an inspiring philanthropist, Annette was a real-life Auntie Mame. She literally picked up my husband, Michael, and me at a cocktail party about 15 years ago. She said “You’re fun. I like fun people. Let’s spend time together.” And we did, having many adventures and travels with her and her partner Andrei. We all had dinner a few weeks before she passed away. Although she was being treated for cancer, she was having a good day and she was as vivacious, joyful, and upbeat as the day we met. Like we had done many times before, we “closed" the restaurant that night. Annette was an optimist and a fighter to the very end, and a role model of how to grab life with both hands and live it.  

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New campus space to be officially design …

DAP Health to Hold Special Tribute to the late Humanitarian & Philanthropist Annette Bloch

 

PALM SPRINGS, Monday, February 10, 2022 – DAP Health will hold a special tribute to longtime donor Annette Bloch from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Members of the print and broadcast media are invited to attend.  

The on-campus, outdoor, by-invitation-only event —which 200 people are expected to attend — will feature appearances by DAP Health CEO David Brinkman, Bloch’s daughter (and head of her charitable foundation) Linda Lyon, longtime friends Terri Ketover and Mark Adams, Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, DAP Health client, and PromoHomo.TV executive producer and host Nicholas Snow, Coachella Valley Housing Coalition Executive Director Pedro S.G. Rodriguez, and Oscar- and Grammy-nominated — and Tony-winning — lyricist, producer, and director David Zippel. 
 

Portions of the program will be devoted to officially dedicating DAP Health’s newest clinical space as The Annette Bloch CARE Building, and to marking the ceremonial groundbreaking of future on-campus affordable housing complex Visa Sunrise II, which will boast 60 units constructed in collaboration with Coachella Valley Housing Coalition. 
 

“Annette Bloch was a longtime cherished friend not only to DAP, but to me personally,” says Brinkman. “On the evening of February 24, some of the most important people to Annette, and to DAP, will come together to celebrate her life and to recognize her immense contributions to our organization. With the naming of The Annette Bloch CARE Building, not only do we wish to burnish her legacy, but we are ensuring that members of this community — her community — understand for decades to come just how pivotal a role she played at DAP.” 
 

About Annette Bloch 

Annette Bloch passed away of cancer at the age of 94 in her hometown of Kansas City last year. The diminutive philanthropic powerhouse spent winter seasons in Palm Springs, first with husband Richard, of H&R Block fame, then later in life — following Richard’s death, also to cancer — with life partner Andrei T. Muresan. Bloch was a quite formidable presence in all corners of our community, making charitable donations, attending benefits, volunteering, or dining out with dear friends. 

 

About Annette Bloch & DAP Health 

In 2012, Bloch donated $1 million to establish the Annette Bloch Cancer Care Center at DAP Health. In 2016, she announced a $3 million gift to fund the expansion of DAP Health's medical facilities. The gift enabled DAP to purchase the former Riverside County Health building on its campus. Its renovation is currently more than 50% complete and will ultimately enable DAP to go from serving 2,000 patients per year to more than 25,000 annually. 

About DAP Health 

DAP Health (DAP) is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.     

DAP opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlines to offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP is also working to address social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing healthcare.  

DAP’s sexual health clinic offers judgment-free STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.      

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.      

Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Tas …

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact: The Development Department Inc.

Phone Number:  760-669-3366

PSAMS@devdeptinc.com

Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force Launches Capital Campaign During World AIDS Day

(Palm Springs, CA) November 30, 2021… The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force is excited to announce that the AIDS Memorial Sculpture is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Palm Springs City Council recently unanimously approved the acceptance of the Sculpture to be placed in the new Downtown City Park. The Task Force has also partnered with DAP Health to provide a dedicated link to enable community members to help fund the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture, visit https://www.daphealth.org/aids-memorial-fund/.

“December 1, World AIDS Day was chosen as the launch, as it signifies the remembrance of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and gives renewed hope that one day, the virus will be eradicated. It is our responsibility to remember their lives and to continue to tell their stories, so that they are never forgotten,” said Mike Richey, Co-Chair National AIDS Memorial. “AIDS has affected every community across the world, and it is for this reason that AIDS Memorials should be established to honor & remember those lost.”  

The Task Force’s vision is to provide the AIDS Memorial Sculpture as a gift to the City of Palm Springs and people of the Valley. Internationally acclaimed artist based in the Coachella Valley, Phillip K. Smith, III, has been commissioned to design the memorial, which will provide an opportunity for reflection, remembrance and hope once its placed in the new City of Palm Springs Downtown Park.

“The AIDS Memorial Sculpture will be a touchstone for unity, hope, grief, and healing in the Coachella Valley.  As a monolithic, singular stone sculpture, the carved surfaces will dance with light, shadow, and reflection.  Through rotating grooves cut into the gloss surface as matte marks signifying unity through struggle or the soft curve of undulating forms evoking healing over grief, this is a memorial to be touched, to be felt. It is a timeless, enduring landmark delicately placed on the land. It is heavy, but light -- lifting hope, lifting struggle, and lifting up what is important,” described Phillip K. Smith, III.

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force’s mission is to ensure the lives of those lost are never forgotten, and that their stories and lives are remembered into the future.  We also envision an opportunity to use this memorial as a means to educate the public about HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment options available to everyone who seeks information and to help direct individuals to resources available to them throughout the city, and the country.

The goal of the Task Force is to raise the necessary funds to support the creation, installation and ongoing resources to maintain this sculpture for generations to come.  Given the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on our community, we believe there will be great support for securing the necessary funds to make this AIDS Memorial Sculpture a reality. 

To help facilitate that fundraising goal, the Task Force has enlisted Paul Clowers and Ellen Wolf of The Development Department Inc. to lead the project. The Task Force has also partnered with DAP Health to act as the fiscal processing agent for donations which can be made by visiting daphealth.org/aids-memorial-fund. For addition information or donation assistance please contact The Development Department Inc. at PSAMS@DevDeptInc.com or call 760-669-3366.

DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LG …

DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LGBTQ+ Community at Greater Palm Spring Pride 

DAP Health walked with pride alongside a bright progressive rainbow of other community organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community during the 35th Annual Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival.  The advocacy-based healthcare organization has provided community healthcare since 1984 and proudly sponsored this year's community stage which highlighted local talent. 

This year's Pride event drew tens of thousands of enthusiastic participants from around the globe who gathered in Palm Springs for a weekend of community, music, friends, and of course, the legendary Palm Springs Pride Parade which featured over 250 entrants this year. 

“It was overwhelming to be together again at this year’s parade,” says Nick Valenziano, DAP Health Manager of Executive Affairs.  Valenziano organized DAP Health’s participation in Pride this year alongside a committee made up of DAP Health employees.  “As I watched the street fill up with all the participants, it really hit me that I hadn’t been among the community in this way in such a long time.” 

DAP Health’s Pride Parade contingent returned to its advocacy roots this year inviting employees and supporters to carry signs that amplified the organization's commitment to health equity. Some of the signs read “No Stigma,” “Sex Work Is Work,” “Mental Health is Health”, “Black Lives Matter,” and “U=U”.   

DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing, Steven Henke explains.  “Our approach was to focus our messaging on the very real challenges faced by the communities we serve.  Stigma and shame remain barriers to health care for too many people living with HIV or mental health challenges.  The U=U campaign (undetectable equals untransmittable) aims to end the stigma around HIV that keeps too many people from getting tested for HIV or obtaining the care they need to stay healthy. At the end of the day, the message we wanted to deliver is that DAP Health welcomes all people. Period."    

“You could feel the energy moving in both directions, all of us greeting them and them waving back, shouting and clapping,” Valenziano said. “It was like we were all rediscovering humanity.”   

DAP Health’s Department of Community Health team provided education, counseling, and testing to hundreds of Pride goers who took advantage of free and confidential HIV testing, STI testing, PrEP consultations, and the condom bar offerings.  The message they delivered:  We offer judgment FREE testing and treatment.  

DAP Health's focus on sexual wellness remains on the forefront of a trend that has seen an increase in STI's 

CJ Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health, explains "we’ve continued to see an increase in STIs through the COVID pandemic, but even more specifically in the last 6 months we’ve seen a significant increase in syphilis and gonorrhea.”   

DAP Health continues to offer free services in its Orange Clinic.  Free services include testing and treatment for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis;HIV and hepatitis C testing; andpre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP— treatments available for those at risk of coming into contact with HIV and those who may have already been exposed to it. 

The Orange Clinic provides anyone who tests positive for HIV with rapid start medication and links them to care. 

2021 Desert AIDS Walk reaches new milest …

Contact: Leighton Ginn
Public Relations Specialist
(760) 567-2983
lginn@daphealth.org


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 2, 2021

2021 Desert AIDS Walk reaches new milestone, surpassing the $400,000 mark

FUNDS FROM THE OCTOBER 30 EVENT WILL GO TOWARDS COMPREHENSIVE CARE AT DAP HEALTH

PALM SPRINGS, CA –   The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk returned for its first in-person event since before the pandemic, and the community donated in record numbers with $400,786.24, which all goes to support DAP Health and the vital services it provides the community.

The previous record was $350,000, which was the event’s goal for this year.

“The community came together again and blew our previous record out of the water,” says Darrell L. Tucci, Chief Development & Strategy Officer at DAP Health. “To see the community come together at the very beginning of the program for the first time in 20 months was deeply moving. I had tears streaming down my face. It was really beautiful to see.”

It was DAP Health’s first in-person event since the 2019 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards. The 2020 Desert AIDS Walk went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tucci said it’s a testament to the community, as well as the DAP Health teams – marketing, development and volunteer coordinators, who were “the backbone on the staff side leading the event.” With the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemics being felt economically in communities across the country, Tucci said he wasn’t sure how fundraising for the walk would turn out.

This year’s event had 594 registered walkers, 71 teams and 1,836 donors. The average gift was $112.94.

The top fundraiser this year was DAP Health Board Chair Patrick Jordan, who raised $15,100 to lead individual fundraisers and his PS Properties team raised $41,710 to lead all teams.

“My passion is making sure that people in our community lead healthy lives. So whether that's somebody living and managing themselves with HIV, whether that's somebody that needs behavioral health counseling, whether that's somebody that needs food assistance, whatever it might be,” Jordan said. “I think we all have a responsibility in my eyes to care of humankind and take care of one another. And so that is what drives my passion.”

Jordan also points out that telling donors that 100 percent of the funds they raised would go directly to DAP Health programs was an incentive as the event was underwritten by the sponsors. Tucci points out that the sponsors, such as Desert Care Network and Walgreen’s, helped generate over $100,000 this year, also a record.

Revivals stores has been donating 100% of their profits to DAP Health each year since it first opened in 1994. Director of Retail, Dane Koch joined leaders from each of the four Revivals stores for a special check presentation before the walk. “Our team of volunteers and employees came together this year to make an impact.  Over 6,500 customers donated an average of three dollars as they were checking out of our stores.  The collective impact of their generosity resulted in $20,000 raised at our stores for this year's walk. To me, it’s a great reminder that every person's effort matters when we come together with a shared purpose.”

The annual Desert AIDS Walk helps fund the vital work of DAP Health, previously Desert AIDS Project, an advocacy-based health care organization that provides service to more than 10,000 individuals.

“The fight to end HIV and address health inequities is far from over and we are in this together,” said C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness. “The funds raised through the Desert AIDS Walk this year is a major win for the community.”

This year marks 40 years of HIV with the first reported cases about what would become known as HIV and AIDS published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

DAP Health CEO and President David Brinkman says, “AIDS taught us a community response is the most effective response. It taught us that we cannot turn our backs when communities are in need and in fear, that we must remember our humanity and the gift of giving back and be there to help. And as we have learned through our recent human rights and health equity movements, equality cannot be experienced by one until it is experienced by all.”

About DAP Health

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, Calif., serving more than 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab services. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.

DAP Health opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlines to offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP Health also is working to address the social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing healthcare.

DAP Health’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) testing. DAP Health has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year — landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP Health exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.

Community Comes Together, Provides Inspi …

Community Comes Together, Provides Inspiration at 2021 Aging Positively – Reunion Project

By Leighton Ginn

When the top organizations in the area got together for the Aging Positively – Reunion Project Conference on September 19, it sent a powerful and inspiring message.

The event was  aimed at providing information and inspiration for those aging with HIV. The event showcased community leaders who provide services to improve the quality of life for those older adults living with HIV.

Attendee David Parry felt  the conference was uplifting after what he experienced in the early days of the crisis.

“I lost many, many friends, too many friends to count, in the late 80s and early 90s,” said Parry, a Rancho Mirage resident. “Now today, people aren’t just surviving with AIDS, but truly living full lives. It’s an amazing recovery story. … To have the emphasis on living full lives and the resources available to us to make that possible is really empowering.”

This year’s event was headlined by Andy Bell, the lead singer of the pop group “Erasure,” and Karl Schmid, co-creator of +Life Media and ABC7 Los Angeles contributor.  

Jeff Taylor, the executive director of the HIV+ and Aging Research Project in Palm Springs, interviewed Schmid. He said having both Schmid and Bell sent a positive message. When they came out as HIV positive, they didn’t suffer as bad a backlash as feared and were embraced.

But an even more powerful message was having eight local organizations come together to provide an event that attracted a record 274 registered guests. There were attendees from all over the country as well as Thailand.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how well the virtual format worked and how well people responded to it,” Taylor said. “It’s really great to see that group come together. We’ve been collaborating for about four years now and it just gets better and better each year. It’s a delight to work with these people.”

There was a wide array of topics covered, such as research updates, which featured DAP Health’s Research Coordinator Greg Jackson and caregiving. But the event went deeper with other topics such as meditation, an end-of-life doula, sustaining and making new friends later in life, and HIV in the media.

"It was an energizing experience for our team at DAP Health to collaborate alongside other local organizations committed to supporting community members living and aging with HIV. We were all grateful for the opportunity to connect around a shared vision for this event and for the leadership of its committee members," said Steven Henke, Director of Brand Marketing at DAP Health.

Bell spoke about his career in Erasure, which produced the pop hits “A Little Respect,” “Chains of Love,” and “Oh L’Amour.” Bell’s session, which ended the conference, had a memorable moment when Parry got on the line. Parry was an accountant for one of Erasure’s tours, and Bell remembered him as being a “hunk” and wearing bicycle shorts.

“I was shocked he even remembered my name. I was really touched, and a little embarrassed he referred to me as a hunk, ” said Parry, the Senior Director, Executive and Internal Communications for Blue Shield of California. 

“Whatever short shorts I had on at the time, I’m sure they were much longer than what he was wearing.”

Taylor said the committee, inspired by the success of the 2021 version of the conference, is already planning next year’s conference, which they hope can be in person. Even so, Taylor said he would like to see a hybrid conference to maintain the virtual element to extend their reach beyond the Coachella Valley. He likes the idea that the conference could be available to people in the Midwest and South, where they don’t have the kind of resources the Coachella Valley does.

“People reach out to me to see and ask, ‘How can we make it happen here?’” Taylor said. “We forget how fortunate we are here, so to make it available to people elsewhere who don’t have it, and make it a springboard to capacity building for them is really exciting.”

How is DAP Health caring for people living and aging with HIV? Dr. Tulika Singh, Director of Research, Associate-Chief Medical Officer, explains.

Help us continue to provide compassionate health care by registering now for the 2021 Desert AIDS Walk at www.DESERTAIDSWALK.org.

5 Reasons to Particpate in the 2021 Dese …

5 Reasons to Participate in the 2021 Desert AIDS Walk

From the home offices, here’s a look at why you will want to participate in the 2021 Desert AIDS Walk, a Palm Springs tradition since 1989.

1. YOU MIGHT SEE SOME FAMOUS FACES: The Desert AIDS Walk brings together the community, including celebrities and leading businesses. At the very first Desert AIDS Walk in 1989, screen legend Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne were there to add their celebrity and support. “Let’s walk, run, do whatever we can to eradicate AIDS,” Douglas said during his opening remarks in 1989. Joining the post-walk event was former President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. Other former participants included former Palm Springs mayor and singer Sonny Bono.

2. GREAT FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY (INCLUDING YOUR FUR-BABIES): This year’s event will include the Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by Walgreen’s. The fair offers opportunities for participants to restore their mind, body and spirit. There will also be activities for children. Congressman Raul Ruiz brought his two young children to the 2016 Desert AIDS Walk for another reason. “We started them young, we start them early to believe in equality, to believe in social justice, to help us eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS. To encourage our friends and other families to get tested,” Ruiz said from the stage. “This is not something we go halfway; we go all the way in order to protect our community members and our loved ones.”

Pets are welcome to walk the course that begins at Ruth Hardy Park and take participants around some of the legendary landmarks around Palm Springs.

3. CELEBRATING LIFE: Many who participate will do so to honor a loved one lost to HIV and AIDS. “I walk because other people can’t. I also walk to support all the programs and services that (DAP Health) provides to its clients. It’s unparalleled and unmatched in the country,” said board member Patrick Jordan in a 2015 video. “Come get inspired.”

4. REUNITED AND IT WILL FEEL SO GOOD: It is a chance for our community to get together, safely, to celebrate and walk together again in person. Due to the COVID pandemic, last year’s walk was a virtual one. If people are vaccinated, they can be together again to celebrate at one of the most beloved events in Palm Springs. Desert AIDS Walk also helps kick off Pride Week!

5. THE FIGHT TO END HIV ISNT OVER: When the Desert AIDS Walk began in 1989, a positive diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, DAP Health treats many long-term survivors who led full and healthy lives.

Join more than 2,000 local humanitarians and come together to end the HIV epidemic, expand healthcare access, and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS. Walker Registration is now available online at www.desertaidswalk.org.

DAP Health Honors Annette Bloch

Annette Bloch at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards

DAP Health Honors Annette Bloch 

DAP Health honors the passing of philanthropist and beloved community leader Annette Bloch. Bloch will be remembered for meeting her personal goal of "improving the lives of others.” The philanthropist found joy in seeing her generous gifts change lives in Kansas City and Palm Springs, the communities she called home. 

Bloch became part of DAP Health’s (formerly Desert AIDS Project) response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after her friend Barbara Keller gave her a tour of the organization's campus. She commented afterward, “It took my breath away—there’s not another facility like it.”  

In 2012, Bloch donated $1 million to establish the Annette Bloch Cancer Care Center at DAP Health. Her gift enabled DAP Health to diagnose and treat dysplasia and to offer services to clients susceptible to cancer due to their HIV infection. At the time, DAP Health CEO David Brinkman explained the impact, “The extraordinary gift from Annette Bloch to DAP will allow us to broaden our base of medical care in a way that we could have only dreamed about before.” 

Bloch used her philanthropy to help DAP Health fulfill its mission of enhancing community health and well-being. She received its 100 Women Award at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards in 2013 for her support of programs helping women and children. And her endorsement invited countless others to fund the organization. 

In 2016, Bloch announced a $3 million gift during the 22nd Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards to fund the expansion of DAP Health's medical facilities. Brinkman, who counted Bloch as a close friend and an ally in the organization's advocacy-based healthcare work that today serves 9,700 individuals annually, recalls her passion for the organization's mission. “She was energized by her intention to make life better for anyone suffering. She often said, everyone, regardless of income, should have access to world-class healthcare. I remember showing her the plans for our new medical building and her saying, ‘I want to be the first one to get this building built. I’m going to give $3 million to start it.’” 

With the support of Bloch, DAP Health purchased the former Riverside County Health building on its campus and is in the process of renovating it. The building will be renamed the Annette Bloch Care Building to honor her legacy and impact. “Her investment enabled us to double our capacity, ensuring our doors to compassionate care remain open to everyone who walks through them seeking wellness.” Brinkman explains, “I will always remember her positive attitude, gratitude for life’s blessings, the value she placed on friendship and family, and as a woman who made a difference in the lives of others moving DAP Health boldly into the future in the process.”

Celebrating the Life of Marvin Sholl

Celebrating the Life of Marvin Sholl

Marvin Sholl, 93, of Rancho Mirage, CA, died peacefully on June 10, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.  He was born on June 21, 1927 to Louis and Jeanette Sholl in Chicago, IL, where he met and married his first love and wife of 56 years, Carol Phyllis Halper.  Carol preceded him in death, as did their beloved sons Scott and Barry Sholl. 

A lifelong car enthusiast, Marv turned his passion into his profession, running dealerships from a young age.  He was especially proud of being one of the youngest Jewish men to manage a Pontiac franchise in Chicago in the 1950s.  After moving to the Desert in 1976, Marv continued his long love affair with cars, and in 1981 opened Exotic Motor Cars in Palm Springs, where he never met a Rolls-Royce he didn’t like.  He was a proud Veteran of the United States Navy, serving during WWII, and always drove one of his signature cars in the Palm Springs parade.

After their youngest son, Barry, died from complications of HIV/AIDs, he and his late wife Carol became active volunteers with Desert AIDS Project (now DAP Health).  They both received recognition for their humanitarian efforts in the fight against AIDS, including the Warner Engdahl Community Service Award presented at the 2006 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards. On World AIDS Day in 2016, the Marv Sholl Red Ribbon of Hope Award was established to honor his then 30-year commitment and presented at the Everyday Heroes ceremony, which Marv certainly was. 

   

In 2007 Marv met the second love of his life, his adoring wife, Ruth Ruffner.  Their late life love affair brought incredible joy to Marv as well as a whole new family that adored him.

Marv always had a twinkle in his eye, was quick with a joke, and was a generous friend.  When his grand children were young, they thought he must be the Mayor of Palm Springs, since wherever they went, he seemed to know everyone.  He loved and was loved by the many friends he made in the Coachella Valley. 

He is survived and will be forever missed by his beloved family: wife Ruth Ruffner; daughter Leslie Sholl Jaffe her husband David Jaffe, his grandchildren Dara and Gary Jaffe, and nephew Rick Sholl; as well as step-children, Sue Sherman and her wife, Pam Juhos; Richard Sherman and his children David, Greg and Jade. 

There will be a private Memorial Service at a later date.  However, to honor Marv’s memory, we request donations be made to DAPHealth.org.

 

DAP Health Unveils New Les Dames du Sole …

DAP Health Unveils New Les Dames du Soleil Wellness Space

By Jack Bunting

DAP Health continues to honor its history rooted in health equity, inclusivity, and community collaboration by unveiling a new lobby in its Barbara Keller Love Building, the first of two exhibitions planned this year.

Clients and visitors at DAP Health’s Wellness Wing will experience a space that has been transformed to pay homage to the fine art of drag, comedy and humanitarianism.

Now, warm colors and vintage cabaret posters, and a life-size photographic mural of the drag troupe Les Dames du Soleil are reminding everyone about this Valley’s rich history of inclusivity and fundraising.

“Steve Chase designed DAP’s first patient reception area noting the connection between physical surroundings and wellness,” explains David Brinkman, CEO. “Since then, we have continued to create welcoming and vibrant spaces for the community members we serve.”

To carry on this tradition, DAP Health partnered with Foley & Stinnette Interior Design, well known across North America for transforming residential and commercial spaces.

“Les Dames du Soleil are beautiful and vibrant inside and out, and we wanted the new waiting area to be a reflection of their empowering energy,” says Beau Stinnette. “Bold IS beautiful when curated the right way.”

Clients are used to waiting in the area for acupuncture, reiki, massage, and group meetings. It is also where the computer lab is located, used by many for resume building and job searches.

“I am really pleased with how they changed up the color and decorative scheme of the space,” said John, a DAP Health client. “It's just brighter, more vibrant, and a real change from the usual medical atmosphere, and I really appreciate it.”

For 30 years Les Dames du Soleil helped fund health access in The Coachella Valley, and their brand of humor and cabaret escapism improved the health of the entire community in an era when gay life was centered in bars, nightclubs, and galas. 

Douglas Woodmansee and Marshall Pearcy, life partners since 1976, started Les Dames du Soleil using their gift of bringing people out of their shells through laughter. With a revolving cast throughout the years, the troupe helped bring in much needed funding to DAP, giving people with HIV (PWH) a chance to access healthcare, sometimes for the first time.

“We were the drag queens for people who don’t like drag queens,” says Douglas. “We won them over with lots of comedy, artful costuming, and always affordable ways to pitch in and help people with HIV.”

Whether in a bar for change, or in a convention center with celebrities, Les Dames du Soleil spent decades engaging and delighting a loyal fanbase.

“Les Dames du Soleil had a valuable purpose,” says Douglas. “People wanted something to believe in; to enjoy—to laugh at and to cry over.”

During the early AIDS crisis, finding that kind of community support was much harder for LGBTQ people.

“Our shows struck at the heart of the community, which we realized was an extremely generous and caring one,” he said. “We kept delivering to our fans and our fans loved us for it.”

DAP Health has been increasing health equity for the LGBTQ people in The Coachella Valley for almost 40 years. This includes meeting health and inclusion needs for people in other categories who face disparities in accessing care, especially due to race, class and economic circumstance.

Building LGBTQ health equity has always included restoring the sense of belonging that many people lose because they are different. Due to open as well as cloaked hostilities, it still challenges many people to live authentically without facing isolation. Health experts warn that this is a serious health risk, and that community connection is a valuable antidote. 

Before there was crowdfunding, there was Les Dames du Soleil

Since 1994, they have raised $2 million so that people in the Coachella Valley with HIV can access the care and advocacy everyone deserves.

“Les Dames du Soleil gave the audience an avenue to donate money,” said Douglas. “And we gave them a quite a show in return for donating money to DAP.”

That support was essential, given the lack of funding for healthcare, especially for PWH. 

“We struggled along on nickels and dimes constantly,” says Ron Christenson, DAP’s founding treasurer. “Half the time we didn’t have the money to pay the rent—it was really hard.”

In a time before accessible healthcare and LGBTQ protections, DAP founders kept carrying on because the suffering that PWH were experiencing in their Valley was nothing short of a humanitarian crisis.

“The poverty was unimaginable,” says Ron. “People who were dying did not have food, and many could not work, because people were afraid of them.”

Fundraising was something that came with the territory if you wanted to make a difference, whether it happened in a bar or at a gala, and even if you had a day job in medicine.

To raise money, “We had big parties,” says Kathy McCauley, founding DAP RN. “And no matter who was coming, I always told them, ‘bring your wallet’.”

No matter the venue, audience participation was a regular part of the shows, and as the years went on, people who wouldn’t traditionally consider LGBTQ entertainment had become devoted supporters of Les Dames du Soleil.

“We gave them a cabaret for two-to-three hours,” Marshall said. “The idea was to come in, leave all your troubles behind, have a drink, have fun and laugh and sing along.”

Affordable Giving Can Move Mountains

“Les Dames du Soleil was founded on the premise that we wanted to include everyone,” says Marshall. “And by charging low admission rates, we made it so everyone could feel part of the community.”

Money was never the real reason; it was about community. People with HIV needed services and medication, and there were people of all income levels locally who wanted to support them.

“Everyone was able to participate and give somehow.” says Marshall. “You could take $25 and go to the bar by yourself, have a couple of drinks and throw the change into the tip jar.”

When Les Dames first started, they charged $3 at the door at the bars. Eventually when they started playing the ballrooms, prices went up to $20 and $25.

“I wouldn't let them go any higher because I said, the idea of  Les Dames du Soleil was founded on the premise that we wanted to include everyone. And we wanted everyone in the community to feel part of the community.”

“It might not have seemed like a lot of money, but every bit helped,” says Ron Christenson.

As fundraising events and venues went bigger in the 2000s, Les Dames du Soleil were in their element as they remained sought after in Palm Springs philanthropy, supporting many Coachella Valley non-profits, including The Center, AAP Food Samaritans, Jewish Family Service of the Desert, and Mizell Center.

However, they never stopped entertaining and making appearances at events where folks on a regular salary could show their pride with smaller sum donations.

Fans Supported the Cause Tirelessly

“What still gets me is the memory of a man who was terminally ill with AIDS, sitting in the audience and holding up a check for us,” says Douglas. “It was to honor the love of his life who had lost the fight himself.”

It meant the world to Douglas, because even in this man’s grief and with failing health, he wanted to come to the show, where he knew he was with friends, and he knew he belonged, he said.

“Everyone was welcome,” says Marshall.

Giving Back Worked Both Ways

Earlier in the AIDS crisis, Douglas felt an urgent need to make a difference by speaking at support groups for families who had lost loved ones. Despite their grief, he said, many families still carried so much homophobia. Expressing it in therapy was part of their journey, but he knew he could not handle the toxicity.

Then he saw the magic that was possible with a show, friends and fundraising—no matter what the venue.

“Now this, I can do!”

Marshall found a way to feel connected, and it was through using drag and cabaret for the well-being of people who needed healthcare and advocacy.

Talented Design Team Infused Heart

Volunteering his time and expertise for this project came naturally for Beau Stinnette, who together with Dann Foley make up Foley & Stinnette Interior Design.

“This project was truly an honor for me in many ways,” Beau says. “I have lived in Palm Springs since 1999 and I was a DAP client from 2000 to 2002.”

Maude and Dottie, played by Douglas and Marshall, were part of Beau’s memories from his early Palm Springs days, and as the years went by he came to know the incredible impact they were making, “and how they shined their bright light on The DAP community.”

"I needed to be true to the festiveness that's already happening with these ladies," says Beau. To do this, Foley & Stinnette used color palettes of red, blue and purple.

It also meant keeping the existing floor, already with a distinctive design and many more years of usefulness left.

"We also needed to be bolder than the floor," says Beau. The floor in the designated corridor, he says, is very specific with colors of Dark Tan and Navy Blue that run in a swirled pattern.

“I knew I had to be careful and consider everything as a whole,” he says. “The memorabilia, the mural, the flooring and the odd shape of the corridor were all part of the new plan.”

Foley & Stinnette selected the paint colors, the new Revivals chairs and tables, and the new diamond shaped wall sconces.

The mural is a big part of the plan, and it spans almost 15’ and is hugely colorful, he says. “As people begin to see and use the new space, all eyes will be up, not on the floor.”

As if with a cosmic wink, the spirit of HIV awareness and prevention made its way into every detail, even in the name of the paint that was used.

Sherwin Williams "Positively Red" was chosen, but Beau had selected the paint color before he knew the actual name.

“When I saw “SW6871 Positively Red,” I was elated, and I knew it was all meant to be.”

About Foley and Stinnette

Interior Designers Dann Foley and Beau Stinnette have built a reputation for great style, taste and quality through their namesake firm Foley & Stinnette Interior Design. For more than 25 years, they have honed their interior design craft with clients in the U.S. and Canada.

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