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DAP Health Invites Prospective Donors To …

DAP Health Invites Prospective Donors To Go Behind the Scenes

In June of 2021, DAP Health’s IMPACT Hour — a facility tour granted to prospective donors that not only gives glimpses of behind-the-scenes spaces but offers patient testimonials — was introduced. The visit, to which attendees are invited by a current benefactor or staff member, is intended to inform and to forge connections, rather than to solicit donations.  

Typically held every second Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., each IMPACT Hour usually brings anywhere from six to a dozen newcomers to the fold. CEO David Brinkman normally kicks off the informal gathering that begins at the heart of the Annette Bloch CARE Building, and Director of Development James Lindquist accompanies the group throughout the journey. 

Each of DAP Health’s color-coded clinics, which correspond to the human chakras — yellow for the solar plexus, green for the heart, blue for the throat, purple for the mind, and orange for the sacral region — is viewed, as is “the bullpen,” command central where various medical professionals convene to discuss different aspects of their patients’ holistic care. 

The excursion consists of three primary stops, or “buckets,” focusing on ending epidemics, health equity, and mental health and addiction services. Each bucket features a storyteller — an employee or patient — who shares more about the organization’s operations and reach, following a “myth, fact, gap, need” framework.  

“With ending epidemics, we talk about the myth where people believe they’re not susceptible to infectious disease,” offers Lindquist. “The fact of the matter is, everybody can get infected by something.” 

The IMPACT Hour — which literally last for 60 minutes or less — customarily ends in the Barbara Keller LOVE Building’s Marc Byrd Behavioral Health Clinic reception area, where a patient will share how DAP Health has changed their lives for the better. More often than not, more than a few tears are shared by those who listen attentively to the speaker’s tale. In fact, even friends of DAP Health who have long supported the agency are left deeply impressed at having witnessed not only clinical areas, but living and breathing stories, all of which are rarely revealed to members of the general public. 

The truth is, only once one steps inside DAP Health’s expansive campus — and hears from some of its patients — can one really get a sense of the scope of work that goes on inside its walls at the corner of North Sunrise Way and East Vista Chino. 

Whether you are a current DAP Health donor who would like to arrange for a handful of your friends to attend a future IMPACT Hour alongside you — or a curious newcomer whose appetite has been whetted to learn more about all the programs and services the non-profit provides — please contact Director of Development James Lindquist at jlindquist@daphealth.org or at 760.656.8413. 

DAP Health Thrives on Community Collabs

DAP Health Thrives on Community Collaboration

No individual is an island. There’s strength in numbers. That’s what friends are for.

These maxims don’t just hold true for human beings, but for organizations as well. That’s why DAP Health is so deeply committed to collaborating with other local non-profits, as it did with Brothers of the Desert for its Desert AIDS Walks last October, with the Riverside County Department of Public Health at its Pride Pavilion in November, and with Presenting Sponsor Eisenhower Health at its upcoming annual benefit gala The Chase (AKA The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards) on March 25.

DAP Health’s most recent collab is between the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert (thecentercv.org) and Revivals Thrift Stores (revivalsstores.com). The Center, plus all four resale retail locations (Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, and Indio) are currently welcoming donations of pre-loved red wear and red accessories as they ramp up toward the big Red Sale event, to be held only at the Palm Springs Revivals Thrift Store on Friday, February 24 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Anyone who has attended the Center’s annual Red Dress Dress Red benefit knows that — alongside The Chase — it’s one of the hottest tickets on the desert’s social calendar. Regular revelers of that cherry-colored soirée also probably have enough dresses, skirts, tutus, gowns, frilly frocks, uniforms, gear, jackets, pants, hats, shoes, belts, ties, purses, and costume jewelry to style the entire current cast of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” All red-hued items are graciously being accepted so that other partygoers may benefit from the recycled couture and accouterments. Who knew that by donating red, one could actually go green?

Drop-offs can be made during regular business hours at the Center (1301 North Palm Canyon Drive) or at any Revivals locations, no later than Thursday, February 23. Bequeathed merchandise will then be consolidated at the Palm Springs Revivals outpost on the day of the Red Sale event.

Seriously — why would one hang on to garb in which one has already been seen? And don’t just drop off your claret, cardinal, and carmine trappings and trimmings — come back to shop for yourself at Revivals Palm Springs on February 24. Who knows? You might just find your fabulous 2023 Red Dress Dress Red ensemble. Monies raised at the Red Sale will be shared between the Center and Revivals.

“No good work can be accomplished in a vacuum,” says Center Membership Manager Charles Huff. “Assisting, lifting, and partnering with others is paramount to the word ‘community.’ When we had the idea to have people donate their previous Red Dress Dress Red wardrobe, the natural choice was Revivals, due to DAP Health and the Center’s collaborative relationship. We’re very happy another first can be accomplished between our agencies.”

“DAP Health takes every opportunity to partner with other local non-profits for the benefit of everyone in the community, and the same can be said for Revivals,” adds Director of Retail Dane Koch, explaining that in addition to joining forces with Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert on its popular Revivals After Dark affair, the brand has teamed up with the likes of Sanctuary House, Martha’s Village & Kitchen, the Salvation Army, Mizell Center, and Angel View. “It is the Palm Springs Revivals store’s great pleasure to host the Red Sale event in tandem with the Center. May an endless sea of ruby, scarlet, and crimson flow out our doors that evening.”

DAP Health Celebrates El Día de Los Rey …

DAP Health Celebrates El Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day) Early at Revivals Thrift Store in Indio

 

In many cultures around the world, January 6 (AKA The Epiphany) is considered the day the Three Wise Men finally arrived in Bethlehem to shower newborn Baby Jesus with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Latinos specifically celebrate this day, known to them as El Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day), with a plentiful, evening family meal that concludes with a sweet baked bread known as Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings bread) for dessert.

In cultural solidarity with the East Valley community, DAP Health joined families in and around Indio by celebrating El Día de Los Reyes one day early — on January 5, 2023 — from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. at the Indio branch of its Revivals Thrift Stores. While supplies lasted, shoppers who spent $10 or more received a complimentary rosca (valued at $17) from local bakery Panadería y Tortillería Guerrero.

Día de Los Reyes marks the end of the holidays for the Latino community,” says Revivals Indio Store Manager Rosie Escobedo. “In celebrating this warm tradition and giving the gift of roscas, we at DAP Health and Revivals are expressing our appreciation for the Latino community of the East Valley. Without our loyal shoppers — most of whom are Latino — we wouldn’t be doing as well as we are in this location. We’ve been busy from Day One. People are grateful for the quality of our merchandise and for our low prices. We want to show them we’re grateful for them, too.”

“It’s such an honor and pleasure to have been chosen by DAP Health to contribute to this special day of giving back at Revivals,” says Panadería y Tortillería Guerrero Bakery Manager Oscar Guerrero. Run by parents Eutimio and Elva, with the help of Oscar and his sister Lorena, this family affair (located on Highway 111 at Clinton Street) has supplied its loyal customers with tortillas, tostadas, and so much more, all freshly made daily, since 2004.

“Our roscas have a slight orange flavor to them,” continues Guerrero. “Their shape signifies the kings’ crowns, the fruit represents their jewels. Every year, we bake about 1,500. They sell out quickly, straight out of the oven. People wait in line for them, something that makes us very proud and happy.”

More than 400 people turned out for the event, with more than 140 families taking a rosca home, compliments of Revivals and DAP Health.

Consistently voted the best of its kind in the Coachella Valley, Revivals is DAP Health’s chain of thrift/vintage/resale stores, staffed predominantly by volunteers, with outposts in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, and Indio. One hundred percent of its profits fund the commitment to health equity espoused by the agency.

“By opening our Sexual Wellness Clinic, as well as our fourth Revivals store, in Indio, in 2022, we at DAP Health have shown our commitment to the health and prosperity of our desert neighbors in the East Valley,” says Director of Retail Dane Koch. “I’m so happy members of the community came out in full force to join our staff and volunteers in celebrating Three Kings Day, a wonderful family tradition that aligns perfectly with the values of our organization.”

DAP Health Rounds Out Its Fundraising Te …

DAP Health Rounds Out Its Fundraising Team 

 As seen in Desert Charities News 

 

With two new hires, DAP Health enriches its development department just in time for the Coachella Valley’s season of giving.  

Chief Development Officer Cortney Weir joins the advocacy-based non-profit after nearly 30 years at such organizations as the American Heart Association, the Arthritis Foundation, Best Buddies, and most recently, the California Southland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. 

For his newly created role, Assistant Chief of Philanthropy and Presidential Priorities Chris Boone recently relocated to Palm Springs from Los Angeles. Boone comes to DAP Health having spent time at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Los Angeles Youth Network, The People Concern, and most recently, the National Parks Conservation Association. 

“Removing barriers to care requires financial resources, which requires hiring top fundraising talent,” says DAP Health CEO David Brinkman. “Cortney and Chris are the best of the best in the field of philanthropy. Together, I have no doubt we will fulfill our mission to bring wellness to our valley by providing health equity to all.” 

Neither Weir nor Boone are new to the desert. 

In 1984, at the age of 18, Weir moved from her native San Francisco to Palm Desert, where she and her roommate were the only two women living in a 10-unit apartment complex inhabited by gay male couples of various ages. “Those dear men really took me and Elizabeth under their wings,” says Weir. “I remember we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, and suddenly, a Christmas tree appeared. If we were dating young men we should not be dating, they would chase them off. Whatever we needed, they would provide.”  

When those same men became sick within a year, it was Cortney and her roommate’s turn to provide for them, going so far as to drive them to appointments at the original, tiny Vella Road offices of Desert AIDS Project, as DAP Health was formerly known. 

“I remember taking people to the hospital and having them be turned away because they were living with HIV/AIDS,” Weir recalls. “I remember calling their mothers to say, ‘Your son is dying,’ and having them reply, ‘My son died for me a long time ago.’ I was in shock. My mother would have crawled over broken glass for me — and she was with me many times when one of my friends was incoherently calling for his mom. She’d hold their hand and say, ‘I’m here, honey. I’m here.’  Back then, the only comfort we had was one another and Desert AIDS Project. For me, coming to DAP Health is coming home.” 

Born and raised in Seattle, Boone has been a longtime visitor to Palm Springs. Speaking to his role and to DAP Health’s purpose, Boone — who served as a board member of the Human Rights Campaign for six years — says, “It was honestly a unicorn of an opportunity. To be able to take what I’ve learned at other organizations I’ve worked at or volunteered with and apply it to a mission I’m so passionate about was very appealing.” 

While Weir wasn’t looking to leave her previous employer, all it took was a campus tour led by Brinkman to convince her. “David is an impressive leader and visionary,” she says. “He’s so good at painting a picture of where he wants to go — what’s been achieved, what’s possible. And he’s right here! There’s nobody he has to answer to in Chicago, Miami, or wherever. Trust me, I asked around. Everyone said, ‘Seriously, DAP Health and David Brinkman are the real deal.’” 

Boone will focus on DAP Health’s major benefactors. “David saw the need for someone to specifically do this work,” he says. “My biggest task, but an opportunity I relish, is getting to know the organization’s dedicated donors — their passion and personal story that bring them to support the organization. There are so many generous people in the desert. Some are currently supporters, but many we still need to meet and introduce to our work.”  

For Weir, the biggest hurdle is time. “I can be an impatient person,” she says with a chuckle. “I want everybody to know — now! — that while we remain very respectful to the history of this organization, what it’s meant to the community, and whom we’ve served, the impact we can have on an even larger group of community members is very real. Donors are going to be very interested in what we’re building over here at DAP Health. Once we’re done with the next phase of our growth, people are simply going to be blown away.” 

A Moment with Revivals Donor and Shopper …

A Moment With Revivals Donor and Shopper Ann Sheffer 

Ann Sheffer is committed to getting involved in her community in as many ways as possible. From 2015 to 2021, Sheffer — who with husband Bill Scheffler has called the desert home for 15 years — served on DAP Health’s all-volunteer board of directors, also co-chairing the organization’s 100 Women donor group and annual Everyday Heroes event, which honors DAP Health’s devoted core of volunteers. 

Chair of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission also from 2015 to 2021, Sheffer is currently a member of the task force overseeing the upcoming Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture, to be created by esteemed artist Phillip K. Smith III and placed in the city’s Downtown Park. 

Sheffer continues to be a stalwart DAP Health supporter. Most recently, that patronage took the form of a large and varied donation to the Palm Springs Revivals location. Below, the humanitarian activist talks about why she gives to the award-winning resale store, and why others should follow her lead. 

 

How did you first hear of Revivals? 

Well, this amazing retail space is clearly beloved in the community, so I surely heard of it fairly soon after Bill and I moved here. But I didn’t really appreciate how much money it generates for DAP Health until I was on the board. It’s quite extraordinary. 

 

How long have you been a Revivals donor, handing over your pre-loved items so they can be re-loved? 

Certainly since I was a board member, but probably even before that. I remember once packing up a suitcase full of clothing and donating all of it — including the suitcase! I especially like what my dear friend, the late Barbara Keller, once said. When she would buy something new, she would take something old out of her closet and put it in a pile to donate to Revivals. Barbara was my role model and such an inspiration. She was the president of DAP Health’s board when I joined, and she and I — alongside our friend Terri Ketover — were committed to increasing DAP Health’s outreach to women, as clients and donors. Giving to Revivals is the perfect way to achieve this.  

 

Tell me about your most recent donation to the Palm Springs store. 

After not going to many events during COVID, I realized that I had literally dozens of gala outfits, costume jewelry, and uniquely Palm Springs purses in fun shapes such as flamingos, cosmopolitan cocktails, popcorn containers, and the like. Bill and I also had everyday clothing that had been hardly worn, not to mention kitchen appliances, games, and several hundred books. 

 

Why do you think Revivals is especially deserving? 

Because of the work DAP Health does. It really is one of the most well-thought-out and best-run organizations in the desert. CEO David Brinkman has a vision, and as board members, we were just there to make it happen. There are many ways the agency raises money, but Revivals seems like the perfect kind of fit to what DAP Health does. It’s good for the people who make donations, and for the people who can come buy great things at reasonable prices. You give, but you also take back a lot of satisfaction from having been part of it. 

 

You’re also a Revivals shopper? 

Absolutely. It’s such a great collection of stuff! The other day, when I made my drop-off, [DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing] Steven Henke took me into the back room, where some people were repairing jewelry and electronics while others were sorting books. It’s like Santa’s Workshop. There’s always a constant flow of donations to all four stores — in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, and now Indio — so the volunteers and staff have to keep processing so many things. If you compare Revivals to other resale stores, there’s no question it just has so much more pizzazz and style. 

 

You would no doubt strongly encourage your fellow desert dwellers to follow your example and donate. 

Again, absolutely. Palm Springs is a very generous, compassionate community on many levels. But we also like to have fun while raising funds — at events such as DAP Health’s The Chase or the upcoming Palm Springs Film Awards gala. Donating to Revivals is a way to recycle outfits while also benefiting those in need. The best example of this “circle of life” is the time someone — I’ll never say who — showed up at a DAP Health event wearing a very colorful, elegant outfit I’d donated to Revivals. That brought such a big smile to my face. 

DAP Health Joins Millions Around the Glo …

DAP Health and the Palm Springs Community Join Millions Around the Globe to Mark World AIDS Day 2022 

Words by Daniel Vaillancourt 

 

On Thursday, December 1, millions of concerned men, women, and children around the globe will make a special observance of World AIDS Day. Its theme for 2022 is “Equalize.”  

But here at DAP Health — for the last 38 years, 365 days per — we’ve made it our mission to advocate and equalize, to remember all those whom we’ve lost, to manifest our commitment to those currently living and aging well with HIV — and most importantly, to help end the epidemic once and for all. 

So far in 2022, we have:

  • Administered 3,902 free HIV tests at our Sexual Wellness Clinics in Palm Springs and Indio, and through our mobile clinic. 
  • Distributed 793 free self-HIV tests for home use. 
  • Enrolled 80 patients in our Rapid StART Program, whereby each received two free HIV-related medical visits plus treatment regimens. 

DAP Health also continues to provide free access to both Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to those who request it. 

Thriving with HIV is more than seeing a doctor and taking medication to become undetectable, therefore making HIV untransmissible,” says DAP Health Director of Community Health & Sexual Wellness CJ Tobe. “It’s all aspects of what leads to a person attending their first medical appointment and addressing the negative social determinants of health so that person remains in medical care.  

Regardless of the barriers preventing one from knowing their HIV status or seeking care upon HIV diagnosis, DAP Health works tirelessly to remove those barriers to improve the patient's access, not only to free testing but to our Rapid StART Program at both of our wellness clinics, in Palm Springs and Indio. The first two visits are free, and we also provide transportation assistance (via Lyft, gas cards, and bus passes), food vouchers, TracFones, behavioral health and substance use support, and more.” 

By the Numbers 

According to the most recent statistics (2020) available from the Riverside HIV/STD Program of the Riverside University Health System, there are currently “6,820 people reported to be living with HIV in east Riverside County [AKA, the Coachella Valley, which includes Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Thousand Palms, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indio, Coachella, La Quinta, Thermal, Mecca, and Blythe]. The prevalence rate of PLWH [people living with HIV] in Palm Springs (7,535.2 per 100,000) is over 21 times higher than California overall … and two thirds of PLWH in Riverside County reside in east Riverside County.” 

Furthermore, per the World Health Organization (WHO), “The global HIV response is in danger, even as HIV remains a major public health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Over the last few years, progress toward HIV goals has stalled, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result. Division, disparity, and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis.  

“On 1 December WHO joins partners to commemorate World AIDS Day 2022, under the theme ‘Equalize.’ WHO is calling on global leaders and citizens to boldly recognize and address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS; and equalize access to essential HIV services particularly for children and key populations and their partners — men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who use drugs, sex workers, and prisoners.” 

Globally, it is estimated that some 38 million people are living with HIV today. Since 1984 — the year DAP Health (formerly Desert AIDS Project) was founded — more than 35 million men, women, and children have died of HIV or AIDS-related illnesses, making this health crisis one of the costliest in history. 

Again according to WHO, “To reach the new proposed global 95–95–95 targets set by UNAIDS, we will need to redouble our efforts to avoid the worst-case scenario of 7.7 million HIV-related deaths over the next 10 years, increasing HIV infections due to HIV service disruptions during COVID-19, and the slowing public health response to HIV.” 

If you feel compelled to act on World AIDS Day, get tested, wear a red ribbon, and talk about HIV/AIDS to anyone who will listen. And of course, please consider donating as generously as you can to DAP Health.  

On December 1, all of us must join the huge-hearted men, women, and children on our planet who commemorate World AIDS Day. But there will be no need for we at DAP Health to roll up our sleeves and continue our great work in this great fight.  

Why not? 

Because we’ve simply never stopped. Nor will we, until the HIV/AIDS epidemic is truly history. 

DAP Health Keeps Transgender People Safe …

DAP Health Keeps Transgender People Safe and Healthy 

Words by Charles Sanchez 

November 13-19 marked Transgender Awareness Week, a time to celebrate, raise awareness on behalf of, and uplift the transgender community. The annual observance ended with the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) on November 20. However, DAP Health’s firm commitment to the rights — and health — of transgender people is year-round. 

DAP Health Senior Nurse Practitioner Anthony Velasco is a champion for transgender people and gender-affirming health care. “As a queer person myself,” they said, “I think I’m quite sensitive to the needs of very queer, very diverse people.”  

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation estimates there are 2 million transgender people in the United States. The term transgender — or trans — is an umbrella that includes not only trans women and men, but people who identify as non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, gender-diverse, agender, bigender, or other descriptions that reflect personal experience and choice.  

The 2015 United States Transgender Survey, which surveyed more than 27,000 trans adults nationwide, found that trans people experience many health disparities when compared to heterosexual, cisgender people. These disparities include not only lapses in primary care, but also in gender-specific, sexual, and mental health. For example, statistically, trans people (especially trans women of color) face an increased risk of HIV infection, while trans men are less likely to undergo preventive cancer screenings. Yet many in the trans community don’t seek basic health care due to past negative encounters with medical providers. These includes being denied care or suffering verbal abuse and even sexual harassment.  

Although Palm Springs is known to be very LGBTQ+ friendly, Velasco said there are still occasions when local trans individuals have been mistreated when seeking care. “I remember having a client tell me they’d been to other clinicians in the past, whether here in the Coachella Valley or in the surrounding areas, where their gender identity was not accepted, or where providers refused to give them the medications or treatments they deserved,” they said. Some clients have intimated they were physically assaulted while waiting for a bus to the clinic, while others drive as much as three hours to receive the gender-affirming care DAP Health provides.  

The organization has long been committed to caring for its trans clients with professionalism and respect. “The things we’re doing to address the needs of our transgender community is multi-level,” Velasco said, adding it starts with creating safe spaces for all clients. “This includes making sure what we have on our website or on our buildings is representative of the people we serve.”  

DAP Health also provides space on electronic medical records and forms that allows trans people to use their chosen names and pronouns. “We put our pronouns on our own IDs and email signatures,” Velasco pointed out, “and use our pronouns when introducing ourselves. We really make every effort to normalize this, whether we’re talking to someone who’s expressing a different gender identity or somebody who’s a cis person. Things like this need to apply to everybody. Finally, we’re making sure we’re providing new employee orientation and annual training for all our staff and volunteers.” 

Clinicians at DAP Health also attend trainings provided by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), an international non-profit dedicated to promoting evidence-based care, education, research, public policy, and respect in transgender health. “We’re trying to get all our clinicians WPATH certified,” Velasco stressed, “to make sure we really care for our patients in the right way.” 

Additionally, DAP Health collaborates with other community organizations to further support trans clients. “We have a very good relationship with a trans-led organization called Queer Works,” Velasco said. “They provide free mental health care and free housing assistance for gender-diverse folks.” 

DAP Health also has alliances with the Transgender Health and Wellness Center, the Transgender Community Coalition, and the LGBT Center of the Desert so as to create a veritable framework of support to improve the well-being of the community in general.  

“I think all of us have the responsibility to make all of our environments more affirmative,” Velasco concluded. “DAP Health has been working really hard to open its doors wider and to ensure it provides better care for all its patients. Not just for people living with HIV, but for anybody who is systemically or has historically been minoritized or marginalized. And that includes transgender and gender-diverse people.” 

A Brief Timeline of LGBTQ+ History and S …

A Brief Timeline of LGBTQ+ History and Six Local Trailblazers, Past and Present  

Words By Ellen Bluestein 

LGBTQ+ history has been filled with great moments of victory along with difficult setbacks.  And while the Stonewall Riots in 1969 are generally regarded as the birth of the modern-day LGBTQ+ movement, there were those who were laying the foundation long before.  The Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization, was founded in 1924 followed by the formation of the Mattachine Society and the lesbian right organization, Daughters of Bilitis, in 1950 and 1955, respectively. 

From the hanging of gay men and women in the 1600s to the beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998, LGBTQ+ history sadly involves persecution, violence, and unrelenting bigotry. In 1953, an executive order by President Eisenhower banned homosexuals from working for the federal government calling them a security risk. The American Psychiatric Association deemed homosexuality a sociopathic personality disturbance in its diagnostic manual; a designation that was not removed until 1973.  

In politics, however, great strides have been made. Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality in 1961, while in 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Massachusetts was the first state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2004 followed by federal recognition in all 50 states in 2015. In 1974 Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly gay LGBTQ+ American elected to public office followed by Elaine Noble in 1975 and Harvey Milk in 1978. Most recently, Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet member, was confirmed by the senate as Secretary of Transportation. 

The AIDS crisis that began in the 1980s was a watershed moment in LGBTQ+ history. Referred to as the “gay plague,” the lack of response from the Reagan administration mobilized gay rights activists and organizations across the country and was the catalyst for establishing Desert AIDS Project (now DAP Health.) However, by the time President Reagan publicly acknowledged the disease, four years after it was first identified and countless lives later, it was already a pandemic.   

It was President Obama who posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor and who signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. Under his administration, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” laws were repealed ending the ban on openly gay men and women from serving in the military. 

While progress towards equality has been made nationwide, there’s still more to be done. In honor of LGBTQ+ History Month, DAP Health recognizes six local trailblazers, past and present, who have advanced the political, charitable, cultural, and social landscape of the Coachella Valley. 

Steve Chase 

Famed Rancho Mirage interior designer Steve Chase was instrumental in establishing Desert AIDS Project (now DAP Health) in response to the AIDS crisis in the early 80s.  He served as a volunteer, donor, and board member with the fledgling organization that has since become a leader in HIV/AIDS care.  The organization held its first fundraiser, The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, named in his honor, in 1994, a year after his death from AIDS-related complications. Today, “The Chase,” as it’s now known, is one of the valley’s most esteemed events, raising millions of dollars for direct client services at DAP Health.  

Gail Christian & Lucy DeBardelaben 

Founders of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz and Blues Festival and Association, Christian and DeBardelaben have been instrumental in supporting female jazz and blues musicians who traditionally struggle for recognition and employment. Together the women have received numerous awards including the 2013 Spirit Award, Palm Springs Pride, the 2016 Community Service Award, L-Fund Palm Springs, the 2018 Community Service Award, Palm Springs Human Rights Commission, and the 2019 Harvey Milk Leadership Award. By creating opportunities for women musicians, Christian and DeBardelaben, are ensuring that female artists are recognized for their contributions to their genres, compensated fairly, and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. 

Christine Jorgensen 

1950’s actress Christine Jorgensen was the first person in the United States known for having sex reassignment surgery.  After serving in World War II, Jorgensen went to Denmark where she began her transition and returned an instant celebrity. In 1976, Jorgensen, who had written a book on her experience and had become a vocal advocate of transgender rights, was invited to speak at the Palm Desert Women’s Club. Jorgensen, who died in 1989, once said, “The problem must not lie in sleeping pills and suicides that look like accidents, or in jail sentences, but rather in life and the freedom to live it.” 

Maggie Raible 

Maggie Raible is the current board chair of the L-Fund, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to Coachella Valley cis and trans lesbians.  Founded by lesbians for lesbians and the only organization of its kind in the country, the L-Fund promises its donors that all funding stays in the community. With Raible’s guidance, the L-Fund is expanding its areas of service and looking to franchise the charity nationwide.  Receiving assistance is a simple process that happens quickly. “In just a few hours, somebody can have that relief,” Raible said. “And just like that, the gorilla on their shoulders has been lifted off by a whole community.” 

George Zander 

A longtime political activist, Zander was indefatigable when it came to advancing gay rights in Palm Springs. He was a field organizer for the statewide LGBTQ+ rights group Equality California and advocated for marriage equality, safety for LGBTQ+ students and healthcare.  In addition to his work for the LGBTQ+ community, Zander, who was a past chair of the Desert Stonewall Democrats, was also passionate about helping the homeless and undocumented residents in the Coachella Valley. Zander died in 2015, six weeks after he and his husband Chris were brutally attacked in what was later ruled a hate crime. “His passion and strength have paved the road for many of us to follow, and build from,” Chris Zander said. 

DAP Health Gets Ready to Walk, Out Loud

DAP Health Gets Ready to Walk, Out Loud  

On Saturday, October 29, 2022, DAP Health will host its annual Desert AIDS Walk. For 35 consecutive years, the walk has raised critical funds for HIV/AIDS programs and services in the valley while celebrating survivors and remembering those who lost their lives to the disease. Goals for this year’s walk include walking to help end the HIV and AIDS epidemics in the Coachella Valley and to promote health equity and health justice.  

The theme of this year's walk is Walk, Out Loud, because DAP Health has been watching the current socio-political climate in the nation and has seen challenges like this before. “We’re using our voices and our feet to advocate for members of our community who don’t have access to the healthcare they need and deserve,” said DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing, Steven Henke. “Together, we are going to help connect more people to wellness. DAP has always been an advocacy-based health care organization and this year, we are inviting community members who believe in health equity to lace up their walking shoes, join arms with their neighbors and be advocates for change” 

The Palm Springs AIDS Walk began in 1987, two years after the world’s first AIDS Walk was held in Los Angeles. Thousands of people were on hand to raise awareness and funds for the deadly disease. Local activists Dr. David Kaminsky and his wife Jan chaired the event.  The late actor Kirk Douglas, a prominent valley resident, was a featured speaker who encouraged participants at the start of the walk by telling them, “Let’s walk, run, do whatever we can to eradicate AIDS.” Former President Gerald Ford and former first lady Betty Ford joined the post-event picnic. Mrs. Ford attended the event again in 1995. The late Sonny Bono, then Palm Springs mayor, took part in the walk in the early 90s.  

The walk has a loyal following. Between 1,200–1,500 people participate each year. One of those walkers, DAP Health Board Chair Patrick Jordan, has been involved since 2007. Over the years, he and his team, Palm Springs Properties, have raised millions of dollars for the organization.  For Jordan, it is a labor of love. “It's one of my favorite events that we do every year for a number of reasons,” he said. “Number one being its very community-focused. It is not community specific, so it is not just for people living with HIV and AIDS. It is everybody. And that is what I love. It is kids, dogs, and families and Black, White, purple, and everything else. It really involves the entire community and I love that spirit.” 

Even the recent COVID-19 pandemic could not deter DAP Health from holding its walk, albeit virtually. “We were able to pivot, and we did a virtual walk,” said DAP Health Director of Development, James Lindquist. “We invited people to either walk in their neighborhoods or go to their health centers or gyms... We provided six to eight maps [of 10K routes] that were throughout the Coachella Valley. We also provided the map that we normally do. People posted about where they were walking and what they were doing that day. It was great. It was a nice way to still be connected, even though we could not be together. It was still a staggering amount of money that was raised and people that still wanted to support DAP Health, especially during COVID.” 

As medical advances have been made and more effective treatments found, the focus of the walk has shifted slightly. The first one was aimed at keeping teens free of HIV. Most patients in 1987 were in their 20s and, since HIV can incubate for years, were exposed as teens.  Subsequent walks continued to raise awareness and funds to further research and drug development but in recent years, with the ability to successfully manage HIV and AIDS, looking to the future where a specific walk for HIV/AIDS is no longer necessary is a real possibility. “I would love the day when we don't have to have a walk,” said Lindquist. “My goal is that this walk will change to something that is more along the lines of health equity rather than just a focus on HIV.” 

“The walk will always continue until there's a cure,” said Jordan. “I would like to get to that point where we say we are not walking. We get closer and closer every year, but until there is, I will continue.” 

Register to walk or donate in support of this year’s Desert AIDS Walk by visit ing desertaidswalk.org. 

DAP HEALTH RESPONDS TO THE MONKEYPOX GLO …

DAP HEALTH RESPONDS TO THE MONKEYPOX GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY 

August 22, 2022

When monkeypox was declared a global health emergency, DAP Health was quick to respond. “We've already gone down this path, said CJ Tobe, DAP Health director of community health and sexual wellness. “We already have partnerships and workflows. So, it was just like, oh, we just have to do what we did through COVID. I mean, that’s what monkeypox is resembling.” 

As of mid-August, there were 2,356 confirmed cases of monkeypox in California; 94 of which are in Riverside County.  97.7 % of those infected are male. 94.5% identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. “We are seeing a significant impact on men who have sex with men, people who are doing sex work, massage therapy, group sex, the party and play community, anybody that really has that physical touch that they have in their life,” said Tobe.  “Those are the people most at risk right now for monkeypox.” 

After an initial meeting with the Riverside County Department of Public Health and establishing an internal monkeypox task force, Tobe reached out to the business owners in the community including the CCBC Resort and All Worlds Resorts. “Those are probably the two [biggest] venues here in our area when it comes to sex venues and people doing group sex and living their authentic sexual lives,” he said. “All Worlds’ owners immediately closed the maze room. That's where a lot of the group sex happens. We're talking hundreds of people. They immediately said ‘for the health and well-being of our community and to stop the spread of monkeypox, we're closing the maze down. So, they made that determination.” 

“We then connected the CCBC Resort with Riverside County,” continued Tobe. “There are currently vaccines that are happening as we speak where Riverside County is actually providing vaccines on site at this men's resort.” 

 “We have another virus that is specifically attacking men who have sex with men, and we know, just like with HIV, [the virus] attacked gay men specifically right at the beginning, but now it’s impacting Black folks, heterosexuals trans folks... a whole bunch of people,” Tobe added. “With monkeypox, it's going to be the same thing. It's just so interesting to see how this virus may impact one community at the start, but we're all people so it's going to continue to spread throughout this community, which is why prevention and vaccines are so important.” 

Access to vaccines, however, has been difficult.  There is a limited amount available. David Brinkman, chief executive officer and president of DAP Health has reached out to elected officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advocate for more vaccines. Because of the short supply, DAP Health is following county guidelines to determine who is eligible to receive the two-dose inoculation. “We're leading the effort as far as vaccines,” said Tobe. “DAP Health received 160 vaccines on July 20th, and we went through all of them in five days. We just received 337 more doses so we are calling patients now for them to come in so we can start administering them.” 

Like the COVID vaccine rollout, there are simply not enough to meet the immediate need. “When we look at monkeypox, knowing that there are limited supply vaccines, we need to make sure that the people most at risk are getting those vaccines first,” said Tobe.   “As we continue to get more vaccines, we'll continue to follow the priorities that are given to us by the county. But right now, we're just in a situation where we are rationing vaccines, and we have to make sure that these vaccines get into the people at risk and then, as more vaccines become available, we'll widen our guidelines, which will be to all people, if they choose.” 

On August 1, 2022, DAP Health launched a monkeypox hotline.  “Anybody in the community that wants updated information... or who has questions can call the hotline,” said Tobe. “Anybody who wants to be assessed for getting access to monkeypox testing and/or the vaccines would have the most updated information coming through this hotline that will be triaged and responded by our volunteers.”  The hotline – which can be reached at 760-656-8432 or MPox@daphealth.org --operates Monday-Friday, 8:00 – 11:30 am and 1:00 -4:00 pm.  Those calling after hours will receive recorded information.   

Partnerships with other organizations have also played an important part in DAP Health’s overall strategy. “Desert Healthcare District is always a great partner,” said Tobe. “We've had a call with them, Desert Oasis, Healthcare, Riverside County Department of Public Health. I know Borrego Health and Eisenhower Health attend the weekly community forums. There's just really a lot of partnerships and communication and dialogue that's continuing to happen.” 

In fact, DAP Health, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation, Desert Care Network and the City of Palm Springs recently collaborated on creating a high-profile, full-page advertisement in the August 14th edition of the Sacramento Bee to call attention to the lack of monkeypox vaccines being distributed to the LGBTQ+ community, currently the population most affected by the virus. 

DAP Health is also getting the word out though its social media channels.  “We're advertising on social media like Grindr,” said Tobe. “It's really targeted to specific audiences that are most impacted, making sure that they [see ads on their apps] where they can click and be steered to our landing page: daphealth.org/monkeypox. So, people have the most updated information.” 

DAP Health’s response will continue to evolve to meet the needs of its clients as the outbreak continues and new challenges arise. “It's just in our DNA to continue to respond to crisis after crisis,” said Tobe. “We’re going to continue to do it for years to come. It’s in our DNA to be proactive in our response.”