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More than a Little Respect – A Convers …

Photo Credit: Erika Wagner

More than a Little Respect  A Conversation with Erasure’s Andy Bell 

By Steven Henke 

As seen in The Standard Magazine

I caught up with Andy Bell via email to talk about his career, his new album "The View from Halfway Down," and his September 18 keynote address at the Aging Positively – Reunion Project HIV and aging conference. Bell shed some positive vibes on his life and the creative renaissance he is experiencing 

Bell is a founding member of Erasure. Formed in 1985, when former Depeche Mode and Yazoo member Vince Clarke advertised for a new singer, the duo became successful in the U.K., U.S., and other countries with hits like "Chains of Love," "A Little Respect," and "Oh L'Amour." 

Now, three decades into their career, they are considered one of the most adored and influential synth-pop bands, selling more than 25 million records. In 2019, Erasure released their 18th studio album, "The Neon." 

Question: Thank you for talking with us. It has been a crazy year. You split your time between London and Miami. Where are you today? 

Answer: Finally, after a year and seven months, I'm back in Miami with my hubby after quarantining for two weeks in Cancun. I feel a huge sense of relief. Everyone was beginning to question my sanity and whether our relationship was real or not, or if I had just woken up from a strange dream!  

Q: I read there was a time during the pandemic when you were in lockdown in London and your husband, Stephen, and dog were in Florida. How did the lockdown change you? Did you learn anything new about yourself? 

A: I learned for the first time in my life that I could actually live with myself and do things for myself. I may have been a bit smelly, and I may not have washed as frequently as I should have, but hey, what the hell. I never lived on my own since leaving home at 18 from a large family, and I was dependent on other people. It was great to do my laundry, wash up and go grocery shopping. I love TV, so I can be a real couch potato. There were quite a few Erasure-related things to do, having just finished our photo session and mixing right before the pandemic broke, so I had many Zoom meetings.  

Q:  Many members of the LGBTQ+ community struggled with isolation and mental health during the pandemic. How did you take care of yourself? 

A:  I must admit, I did go back into my shell somewhat and did not speak to people or my family up to the point that they would worry and text to see if I was OK! The worst thing was not knowing when it would end. Canceling four flights made me feel like the red tape was somehow gagging me. Eventually, I had friends over, got stoned and drunk, and had a complete bitch and conspiracy theory fest. It helped tremendously! I'm glad I'm slightly mad, and so are my friends, but I think the LGBTQ crew has to be somewhat to survive. In the U.K., we are fortunate to have the National Health Service, which the U.S. seems to be so frightened of. The word "socialism" is just a word. How can you be scared of a word? It's just about non-profit organizations helping other people. Humans need one another, not this constant bickering, blaming, and point scoring! I did revert to my childhood in many ways, ordering lots of licorice and ice pops. And I did some online counseling, but that lasted three sessions (too boring), plus I got a bit sick of celebs doing their survival blogs, etc. Not that I am bitter (hehehe)! 

Q: Despite the pandemic, you have been experiencing a creative renaissance, releasing a new album, "The Neon!" The album has been described as one of 2020s most elevating moments in an otherwise difficult year. Did you have a team with you, or was making this album a more solitary experience?   

A: As I said, it had already been recorded just in time the previous October. (And I have to admit, I was very sober making it.) It was so refreshing that Vince had already recorded the backing tracks and musical scores in Brooklyn, and I vocalized the top lines in his home studio. There was an excitement in the air. I felt a new appreciation for the new wave music I had listened to as a teenager, and it bled into our new songs.  

Q: Before the pandemic, you released Erasure's 18th album, "The Neon." The album had a feel-good dance vibe that was great for keeping our spirits up during the lockdown. How did you choose the name for that album?  

A: "The Neon" conveys to me the red-light district nightlife and memories of the fairground. I love soft mezcal neon against ancient stone! 

Q: Erasure's 1988 single "A Little Respect" was voted the "Ultimate Pride Anthem" in a new poll from radio station Virgin Radio Pride UK, beating out anthems by Xtina, Gaga, Cher, and Madonna. What did that feel like?  

A:  We were completely taken by surprise by it. I admire the Virgin brand, and two of our favorite DJs now work there, Chris Evans and Graham Norton. It is great to be in such esteemed company on the list, so to speak. I suppose these things are cyclical.  

Q: Take us back 36 years; what were you doing when you answered Vince Clarke's ad looking for a new singer? Is it true you were selling ladies' shoes while starting your singing career? 

A: Yes, and laughing hysterically when I got static electric shocks from the metal stands because of the nylon carpets.  

Q: Did you have any idea when you met Clarke that you would be making music together 36 years later? Is it still exciting to imagine new music together?   

A: Vince Clarke was THE person I dreamed of working with, so, it goes without saying, I think he was a straight man looking for a gay husband! Time has flown by and honestly has no meaning for me!  

Q: You were one of the first openly gay pop stars, and you famously used fashion to make bold statements. Was there a message you hoped to send to other members of the LGBTQ+ community when you wore your iconic outfits? To me, I saw a brave Gay man. Was everyone supportive, or did you face pushback?  

A: It was fine. I didn't want there to be any doubt in anyone's mind as to who I was, and the campiness was somewhat of an armor. When "Sometimes" took off in the mid-1980s, I wore a white T-shirt and jeans. The first few videos from "Wonderland" were so camp, MTV was not going to touch them. It wasn't a sophisticated look like it is today because of RuPaul (God bless him). However, when the airplay started to drop off somewhat, I remember someone saying, "oh, can't you just put a dress back on!" 

Q: In 2004, you announced that you had been HIV positive for six years. Tell me about the process of making that decision. Did you know it would inspire others to know their status?  

A: I was scared at the time, and it took a few years for me to process it. At that time, a witch hunt was in full flow in the U.K. press. This is something I will discuss further at the conference.  

Q: You've been open about being gay since the 1980s and about having HIV. That openness helped many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, and it helped allies understand what they could not experience. Are you able to appreciate the impact you made? Who encouraged or inspired you to be authentic? 

A: To be honest, I think you are born with it. My mother was also very instrumental because she's basically a punk at heart who doesn't give a shit! I don't think about it too much. I love to be free and enjoy myself. Also, I rejected religion at about age 11.  

Q: You are the keynote speaker at the September 18 HIV and aging conference. How does living with HIV impact your life today? 

A: I am so grateful to be alive and be a beneficiary of the cutting-edge science used to create our medications. I salute all of those who passed before us and the brave activists who still fight for us every day. Never take your "freedom" for granted, although to me, it is a God-given right. It can be taken away at the stroke of a pen, usually by the people who believe they love Jesus. (So do I!) Love CANNOT be offensive. It is a misguided conception. 

Q: Every life and career has its ups and downs. How do you find inspiration today to keep the process fresh and exciting for yourself? How do you walk through the downtimes?  

A: Stop listening to music for a while, do a play, forget who you are, and just mingle. Sometimes a good dance helps.  

Q: You have uniquely dedicated fans that look forward to hearing their favorite songs when you perform. Do you have a favorite song that you look forward to playing at every concert?   

A: "Blue Savannah."  

What: The Aging Positively — Reunion Project 6th annual HIV conference is a collaboration between the HIV+ Aging Research Project—Palm Springs and other nonprofit community partners. It will be a virtual conference consisting of a mix of facilitated discussions, panels, and presentations led by key researchers, advocates, and long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS.  

When:  The 6th Annual Aging Positively — Reunion Project virtual conference will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2021. 

Where:  Attendees can attend the conference from the digital device of their choice.  In-person elements may be announced later.  

How: Registration is free and open on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hiv-aging-virtual-conference-tickets-162082616469

Conversations about HIV and Aging Guille …

Conversations about HIV and Aging: Guillermo

Q: How did the U=U message shift your outlook on dating and connection?

A: After living years in fear and shame, I finally understood that I was not damaged and being loved was nothing I needed to beg for. Intimacy was always a fear based-rational process and not a human experience. Always worried to impact somebody’s life by passing an illness that will change their existence forever. Now I enjoy a healthier-intimate life experience where I am not afraid to explore but still, in a responsible way. 

Q: What's your goal for the future? What do you hope to be doing in the next 5-10 years personally or career-wise?

A: This is probably the most challenging aspect of my life since I never thought that I would live this long. My approach was always living in the present and not making plans for the future. After three decades of living a healthy life with HIV, I guess I am here to stay longer than I expected, but now, as an older man. It is hard to understand what is “typically” part of just aging and what is aging with HIV being on meds for more than 20 years. I am looking forward for a more adventurous life, working and producing income in a balanced and harmonious way, being free of shame … No more careers for me. Just the joy of working, earning a living, creating an impact and holding positions and opportunities that allow me to do so. There is so much more to give and share, but it takes others to see you and give you that platform. 

Q: What book or movie inspired you most? 

A: “A New Earth: Awakening Your Life's Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle. When this book came out in 2008, I remembered hearing about it through Oprah Winfrey when she decided to do a live cast (way before Zoom folks!) to read the book, one chapter every week with Eckhart. This book has been transformational for the way I see life and I apply its principles every day. 

Q: What's your personal mantra?

A: “It is not too complicated.” We tend to take life too seriously and the pressure of living a life following the society standards of happiness and success. None of that works for me, and I just want a non-complicated life because it is not complicated. We make it complicated. 

 

Conversations about HIV and Aging Bridge …

Conversations about HIV and Aging: Bridgette

Q: How has living with HIV changed your perspective on aging? 

A: In a way, it brings more worries (effects on the body and brain function), but at the same time it's freeing. It's a reminder that life will happen and come at you fast no matter what you do.  

Q: What does community mean to you? Where do you find your 'tribe' to support your journey? 

A: Community is knowing no matter how different ourexperiences, we are connected in fundamental ways and that is what matters. I find my "folks" everywhere. Surprisingly, a lot of them I find online.  

Q: What's the best advice you've been given? 

A: How your life FEELS is more important than how it looks. 

Q: What have you learned about yourself living with HIV that your younger self would be surprised by?  

A: I've learned WHERE you are and what you have is not WHO you are.  

Q: What song do you play when you need to motivate yourself?  

A: "Keep Pressing On" by Brian Courtney Wilson 

Q: What challenges have you faced aging with HIV? 

A: Medication adherence and side effects have plagued me. Depression has been somewhat magnified.  

Q: What service or support group has made the biggest positive impact on your health and wellness?  

A: A combination of the online women's support group The Well Project and a private FB group I am in.  

Q: What do you do to take care of your mental health?  

A: I remind myself trouble doesn't always last and I engage in things I love. Hobbies are crucial! 

Q: What do you want people reading this to know about aging with HIV?

A: I have a full life behind my three-letter acronym, and fear is unjustified in the face of knowledge.  

Q: What's your goal for the future? What do you hope to be doing in the next 5-10 years personally or career-wise? 

A: I've been considering returning to school for a psychology degree, and I plan to continue to serve my communities where they intersect and overlap.  

Q: What's your pro-tip for someone newly diagnosed with HIV?  

A: HIV is a viral process. You are a human. They are different things. The virus can be controlled. Live your life.   

Q: What book or movie inspired you the most?  

A: Honestly, it depends on my mood. Right now, it is a book of poetry called "Salt" by Nayyirah Waheed. 

Q: What's your personal mantra? 

A: When you cannot find the light, be the light.  

Aging Positively — Reunion Project 202 …

HIV and Aging Conference Header Image

Contact: Steven Henke                                 
Director of Brand Marketing 
(612) 310-3047 
shenke@daphealth.org 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

August 5 2021  

Local Organizations Collaborate on HIV & Aging Conference  

Aging Positively — Reunion Project Set September 18, 2021  

Aging Positively — Reunion Project, the annual Coachella Valley conference aimed at providing practical information and inspiration for those aging with HIV, will bring together community leaders to improve the lives of older adults living with HIV for a virtual conference on Sept. 18, 2021. The conference will feature an HIV research panel of top experts discussing HIV and aging issues in our community.   

September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day — a day to call attention to the growing number of people living long and full lives with HIV and to aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.    

The virtual conference is free to attendees and open to the public. Presented by Eisenhower Health, this year's event is the result of a unique collaboration among local service providers and organizations focused on improving the shared experience of older adults living with HIV.  

People with HIV are living longer lives, thanks to advancements in scientific research and medical treatments; today, about half of HIV positive individuals in the U.S. are age 50 and above. Aging persons living with HIV have experienced tremendous loss, stigma, and discrimination throughout their lifetime and within the healthcare system.  In comparison to similar HIV-negative populations, individuals aging with HIV may experience an early onset of aging complications such as neurocognitive decline, impaired physical function, frailty, and falls.    

Karl Schmid, the entertainment reporter for ABC7 LA will speak on HIV and the media. The ABC reporter, who came out as HIV Positive in 2018, uses his multimedia platform, +Life, to educate and combat HIV stigma.  

At ABC7, Karl has been a regular contributor since 2013, joining the team as a correspondent and producer on the then-weekly and syndicated "On The Red Carpet." 

A passionate activist in the fight against HIV stigma, Schmid launched +Life (www.pluslifemedia.com) in 2019 online to help foster a new conversation around what it means for people living with HIV and to tackle the stigma still associated with the virus. +Life is also part of Localish TV on the newly launched Localish TV network. 

"HIV is not killing people but stigma is, and this is what needs to change," Schmid said in a statement. "We need to talk more about HIV and its advancements, about what U=U means, and we should not be stigmatized by society. 

"We need to have more information on mainstream media about how you contract HIV, prevention and treatments available so that people stop stigmatizing those that are positive and realize that anyone can have HIV and live a completely normal and healthy life."  

Since coming out as HIV-positive, Schmid has used his platform to educate and fight bias.  

Keynote speaker Andy Bell of Erasure fame will share his personal story. Bell is a founding member of Erasure.  Formed in 1985, when former Depeche Mode and Yazoo member Clarke advertised for a new singer. The duo quickly became enormously successful in the U.K., U.S., and several other countries with hits like “Chains of Love,” “A Little Respect,” and “Oh L’amour.” Now, three decades into their career, they are considered one of the most adored and influential synthpop bands selling more than 25 million records. In 2019, Erasure released their 18th studio album, The Neon. 

Bell has become an icon within the LGBTQ+ community for his honesty, compassion and support. Among his support of various LGBTQ+ causes, Bell has served as an ambassador for New York’s Hetrick-Martin Institute, and he is currently a patron of the Cambridge, England-based charity Diverse and of Above The Stag, London’s only LGBTQ+ theater. 

Topics and speakers:  

  •  Keynote speaker: Andy Bell from Erasure 
  • “Honoring Our Experience” with Gregg Cassin 
  • “KeeLee Meditation” with Dr. Daniel Lee, from the University of California, San Diego's Owen Clinic 
  • “HIV & The Media”: Karl Schmid is the entertainment reporter for ABC7 LA. He recently revealed his HIV status and has been an advocate for U=U as well as breaking down HIV stigma. 
  • HIV research update panel: 
    • Borrego Health: Valerio Iovino, i-Care 
    • DAP Health: Dr. Tulika Singh 
    • Eisenhower Health: Dr. Ken Lichtenstein 
    • Palmtree: Dr. Carlos Martinez 
    • HIV+ Aging Research Project-Palm Springs (HARP-PS): Jeff Taylor  
    • Caregiving with Perry Wiggins from The Center, end-of-life doula Alex Snell, and Richard Bass from PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors)
    •  “Let’s Kick ASS”: Brian DeVries speaks about sustaining and making new friendships late in life 

What: The Aging Positively — Reunion Project 6th annual HIV conference is a collaboration between the HIV+ Aging Research Project—Palm Springs and other nonprofit community partners. It will be a virtual conference consisting of a mix of facilitated discussions, panels, and presentations led by key researchers, advocates, and long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS.  

When:  The 6th Annual Aging Positively — Reunion Project virtual conference will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2021. 

Where:  Attendees can attend the conference from the digital device of their choice.  In-person elements may be announced later.  

How: Registration is free and open on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hiv-aging-virtual-conference-tickets-162082616469  

Collaborating Organizations:  

ANAC   

The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) is the leading health care organization responding to HIV/AIDS. Since its founding in 1987, ANAC has been meeting the needs of nurses and other healthcare professionals in HIV/AIDS care, research, prevention, and policy.  

 ANAC aims to promote the health and welfare of people affected by HIV/AIDS by:  

  • Creating an effective, engaged network of nurses in AIDS care. 
  • Studying, researching and exchanging information, experiences and ideas leading to improved care and prevention. 
  • Providing leadership to the nursing community in matters related to HIV/AIDS infection and its co-morbidities. 
  • Advocating for effective public policies and quality care for people living with HIV. 
  • Promoting social awareness concerning issues related to HIV/AIDS. 

Borrego Health   

Borrego Health provides high-quality, comprehensive, compassionate primary health care to the people in our communities, regardless of their ability to pay. They serve these communities and adjoining regions with respect, dignity, and cultural sensitivity as a medical home and safety net for essential health care and social services. Borrego Health is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a Federal Tort Claims Act Deemed (FTCA) facility.  

DAP Health   

At DAP Health, no one wonders if they belong — they just feel it. People can rely on culturally competent and stigma-free care at DAP Health.    

DAP Health offers medical and mental healthcare tailored to patients and clients by clinicians who listen to them. DAP Health has been meeting the diverse needs or its community since 1984, and it offers culturally competent care with no stigma about a person’s race, being LGBTQ+, or living with HIV. By actively listening, we can offer people care and services that meet their unique needs.     

  • Sexual wellness — DAP Health’s Orange Clinic offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C testing.
  •  Thriving with HIV and ending the epidemic — DAP Health helps patients living with HIV thrive by staying healthy, undetectable and untransmittable to others. They become part of DAP Health's family beginning with testing, linkage into care, and then being enrolled in medical and mental healthcare, dentistry, social services, and prescription access. 
  • Mental health services — DAP Health offers individual and group therapy and has a substance abuse program that emphasizes recovery and relapse prevention. Mental health is health — no stigma, no shame. It just takes seeing a person truly where he/she/they are in their personal journey. 
  • Ongoing primary care — Join more than 9,700 patients who enjoy culturally competent care from clinicians and care teams who become like family. DAP Health's team works with patients to coordinate their care and ensure they have everything they need to stay healthy.  

Eisenhower Health  

Eisenhower HIV Clinic: Recognizing the complex health care needs of the LGBTQ patient population, Eisenhower Medical Center offers a comprehensive range of clinical, research and education resources — starting with a team of dedicated primary care doctors who have exceptional experience and expertise.  

Eisenhower HIV Clinic Primary Care Services: Providing state-of-the-art care for HIV patients requires knowledge of the latest treatments and best practices in the detection and treatment of HIV. Eisenhower's HIV Primary Care program is focused on the overall health of each patient, including:  

  • Appropriate utilization of advances in HIV care to sustain the best possible quality of life, including appropriate STD and cancer screening as well as healthy aging  
  • Best practices to prevent the spread of HIV  
  •  Compassionate access to new medicines for highly drug-resistant patients  
  • Our team includes HIV primary care doctors Board Certified in Internal Medicine or Family Medicine, with an additional certification as an HIV specialist with the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM).  
  • Eisenhower Health is proud to collaborate with many nonprofit organizations here in the Coachella Valley providing HIV and related healthcare services, through partnership connectivity of services, referrals, and education.  

HARP-PS   

The HIV+ Aging Research Project-Palm Springs is a grassroots community non-profit that conducts research and provides education to improve the quality of life for long-term HIV survivors in the Coachella Valley. They collaborate with academic partners throughout Southern California and nationally to conduct socio-behavioral research on issues like resiliency and COVID-19 affecting HIV survivors. They hold monthly provider events to provide education on HIV Treatment issues, and they held monthly COVID Rounds during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also provide the monthly Positive Life HIV education series with topics and speakers tailored to the unique needs of their HIV survivor community. They created the annual Reunion Project daylong regional seminar to bring together the HIV and aging community in Southern California. Last year they combined forces with DAP Health and other community partners on the Aging Positively-Reunion Project event, which is held each year on or around HIV and Aging Awareness Day on September 18.    

Jewish Family Service of the Desert 

Since its inception as part of the Jewish Federation of Palm Springs and Desert Area in 1982, JFS has grown—not just in size, but in its ability to serve the people of the Coachella Valley. Beginning as a small group of volunteers who checked in on seniors and disabled people who lived alone, JFS Desert has evolved into an organization of professionals and volunteers that provide a broad range of support and services to thousands of Coachella Valley residents each year.  

JFS Desert’s experienced case managers can assist in exploring potential resources. They will assess clients’ eligibility for services and programs and can help facilitate the application process to obtain benefits and support. JFS case managers are a resource for the Coachella Valley, providing emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness. JFS also works with local and county organizations to advocate for the rights of seniors in the valley. The JFS case management team takes a holistic service approach, collaborating with internal departments to ensure clients’ needs are addressed. We are dedicated to making sure that mental health issues and affordable housing stay front and center for our valley citizens.   

Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs 

Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs is an inclusive social group seeking to reduce the stresses of AIDS Survivor Syndrome. They welcome members regardless of HIV status, race, gender, age, or sexuality, believing that the individual is the best judge of the impact of HIV on their life. LKAPS organizes social functions providing opportunities to develop friendships and community.  

They support education and advocacy to raise awareness of AIDS Survivor Syndrome, long-term survivors, and the challenges they face.  

People feel better when engaged in social activity. LKAPS helps long-term survivors overcome isolation by creating social opportunities. From their popular monthly potlucks, twice-monthly coffee socials, bowling team, and movie nights, to now-established annual events such as June 5's Long-term Survivors Day reception and the Thanksgiving Day feast, LKAPS benefits its members through engagement with their local community of HIV survivors.  

PALS  

PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) is a volunteer-led community initiative based in Palm Springs that helps LGBTQ+ adults and friends plan ahead before a health or other life-altering situation arises.   

Having a plan in place mitigates stress and anxiety, ensures that LGBTQ+ adults are in control of their future care and legacy, and relieves the burden on family and friends.  

The Center   

At The Center, they like to say they create vibrant community by helping LGBTQ+ people along their way, wherever they might be in life’s journey. Even better, The Center likes to live it, breathe it, and do it. If someone is looking to meet new friends, get resources, or enrich their life and their place in community, they have come to the right place.  

Based in the Coachella Valley, The Center serves people of all ages, totaling more than 70,000 visits annually. How do they attract so many people? They do it with meaningful, relevant and mission-focused programming that addresses three strategic initiatives:  

  •   Ending isolation and loneliness  
  •   Connecting people to resources and community  
  •   Enriching individual and collective experiences 

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.     

 

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.”

Revivals Stores bring mid-century modern …

Revivals Stores bring mid-century modern treasures, resale to Coachella Valley

By Robert Hopwood

Revivals Stores has added another location in Indio, increasing the retail chain to four stores. The new store is located at Indio Plaza, a popular shopping center.

The 18,000-square-foot store will bring Revivals' unique mix of products to east valley consumers for the first time. And desert residents and visitors get another location to find that soon-to-be heirloom or rare piece of merchandise they didn't know they wanted.

Known for influencing the valley’s resale industry by blending and curating new items with resale items, Revivals has gained a reputation for discoverability and affordability, says Steve Henke, director of Brand Marketing for DAP Health.

About 70 percent of the merchandise at Revivals Stores is resale, and 30 percent is new. The chain's broad community of donors provides a steady supply of resale merchandise. Revivals also features the Mode Furniture brand of new furniture, lighting, and home decor.

"Revivals was early to innovate and is the only thrift store in America with its own brand of affordable new furniture," says Dane Koch, director of retail for DAP Health. "We buy a different assortment for each store location to reflect the communities we serve."

Revivals Stores serve Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert and Indio.

"We are a resale store with resale prices, but we operate like a regular retailer," Koch says. "Our stores are clean; they're organized, they're easy to shop."

That's important.

"Our philosophy is that resale doesn't need to be ugly," Koch says. "It doesn't need to be messy … it doesn't need to be dirty."

Revivals Stores tend to be cleaner and brighter than other thrift stores, Henke explains. They're merchandised more like department stores to have kind of an elevated shopping experience.

Revivals has a unique vibe that appeals to a disparate group of consumers, from the budget-conscious shopper to the valley's best interior designers to desert socialites. Even those in the film industry — costume designers and set designers — can be found at Revivals, Henke says.

"A lot of people come to Revivals because they want the real deal," Henke says. "You know, they want that lamp from a certain era, or they want that sofa with the original fabric, or they want that jacket from, you know, a specific decade."

Shoppers want to find something unique and get it at the right price. It's the thrill of the hunt, Henke explains. As they scour Revivals' shelves and clothing racks, they slowly make their way down Highway 111, stopping at each store.

They might be looking for the fourth glass to complete a collection that was missing that glass, Henke suggests. They may have found something that evokes a memory. Or maybe they see the perfect reading lamp for the living room. The hunt is different for each person.

Shoppers often shop at all four Revivals locations because each store is unique.

The Palm Springs shop focuses on all things midcentury modern, the Cathedral City branch trades on value, and the Palm Desert outlets' assortment is more traditional in style.

"The mix of product tends to be reflective of the communities closest to that store," Henke explains. "So every store has a different and unique mix of product and assortment."

Revivals Stores is part of DAP Health, an advocacy-based health center serving more than 9,700 patients. Both the store and health center have strong roots in the community. Revivals donates all its profits to DAP Health — more than $1,000,000 annually — so people who need healthcare can get it.

Revivals Stores are staffed by 180 volunteers who support the mission of DAP Health. They donate about 13,000 hours a year to staff all four stores, said Henke. And they're local, so they get to form relationships with each shopper.

"There is a magic sauce to Revivals that’s hard to define, said Henke. "You know, it's a lot of bits and pieces that come together to make it what it is, but there is no other retail store like it. In many ways, it’s retail the way retail used to be when shopping was an exciting experience and the stores employees knew their customers names."

C.J. Tobe: Success of DAP Health’s mob …

C.J. Tobe: Success of DAP Health’s mobile clinic occurs every time it is in the community

By Robert Hopwood

A homeless man showed up at DAP Health’s mobile clinic to get clothes and other services. The gentleman came for winter clothes, STI and HIV testing, and hygiene kits.

C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health for DAP Health, watched as he created a jumble with the winter clothes donated by Revivals Stores, DAP Health’s retail partner. Tobe then asked if he could help.

“I am so sorry to bother you if I am making a mess and taking a long time,” he said. “My eyes are bad, and I can’t see the size.”

“You can take as much time as you need, and I’ll gladly help you find your size if you can tell it to me,” Tobe said. “I have a hearing disability and can’t hear well, so please speak up if you wish.”

“I can’t see, and you can’t hear, looks like we will make a good team,” he said. “I am a large and size 36.”

“We are in this together,” Tobe said as he searched for the man’s sizes.

This story is about one of the many encounters Tobe has had with DAP Health’s mobile team.

“Any time I am able to break away from meetings and join our mobile team in the community, I am reminded how much our services are needed, how much they are appreciated, and how one conversation can change a life,” Tobe said.

We talked with C.J. Tobe about the mobile clinic and its future. Here are his answers.

Question: How long have you been working with the mobile clinic?

Answer: I have been working with the mobile clinic for almost three years. However, the mobile clinic has been with DAP Health since the onset of the Get Tested Coachella Valley Campaign that launched in 2014.

Q: Where do you take the mobile clinic?

A: To homeless encampments throughout the Coachella Valley; organizations that support our homeless neighbors, like Well in the Desert, Martha’s Village and the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission; The James O Jessie Unity Center; treatment facilities and recovery centers; health fairs; food distribution sites; and more.

Q. Who do you meet when you go out with the mobile clinic?

A: We see everyone through the mobile clinic because DAP Health accepts all people. Period. Typically, the people we see are unable to come to us because one of the many social determinants of health prevents them from seeking services.

Q. What is one of the biggest misconceptions about the mobile clinic?

A: That it only provides HIV testing. The mobile clinic now offers many more services.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with the mobile clinic(s)?

A: I hope the mobile clinic is one of many significant ways of addressing health inequities that have been going on for centuries. I hope the mobile clinics represent our commitment to the community who cannot seek medical services on their own. I hope our compassionate mobile staff re-establish trust in communities that may have been mistreated, stigmatized, or not heard from for far too long.

Q: How would you like to see the mobile clinic evolve?

I’d also like to see the mobile clinic evolve into a robust, stigma-free, compassionate sexual wellness clinic providing testing, treatment, community resources, insurance enrollment, and linkage to ongoing healthcare services at the place of the client’s choosing. I want to see the mobile clinic save more lives than it already has by coming to where people are located. I want the community to know that we know you are struggling even though we may not fully understand, so talk to us, let us support you on your journey.

Q: How did the pandemic impact the work of Community Health?

A: The biggest regret I have is not being able to provide mobile services on a larger scale to the community quicker than we have. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how vital mobile services are and how quickly they may be needed. My impatience may be a flaw, but it drives me to continue improving access to vital services to the community.

Q. How do you measure success?

To me, outside of achieving grant deliverables and internal programmatic goals, the success of the mobile clinic occurs every time it is out in the community because people are receiving food, drinks and hygiene kits; getting tested; learning their status; getting treated; and connecting to community resources they wouldn’t have before..

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.

 

8 reasons why it’s time to get the COV …

8 reasons why it’s time to get the COVID-19 vaccine 

Have you gotten the jab? 

More than half of Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the California Department of Public Health. 

Many of those who haven’t been vaccinated have reservations about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, which is understandable. The good news, however, is these vaccines have been thoroughly tested, and they’ve proven to be safe and effective 

The CDC recommends that people should get a vaccine as soon as possible. Unlike a few months ago, the state now has millions of doses available and has opened eligibility to those aged 12 and above. 

DAP Health offers two different COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen). All eligible community members are now able to get one of these vaccines at our health clinic. 

Here are eight reasons why now is the best time to get vaccinated. 

  • Community matters. Be part of the solution. 
  • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. 
  • Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine helps keep you from getting seriously ill if you get COVID-19. 
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 
  • After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you may be able to start doing some things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. For example, you can gather indoors without masks with other people who are fully vaccinated. 
  • None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Learn more facts about COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some protection, known as natural immunity. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the months after initial infection but may increase with time. The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness. 
  • Hugs feel good. Everyone loves a hug from someone they love, especially if they’re vaccinated.  

If you or someone you know needs to be vaccinated, please make an appointment today at DAPHealth.org/vaccine-request. 

 

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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