Health Equity Won at The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards 2021
The 27th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards was a testament to the healing power of hope, inspired by mothers, as well as all DAP Health frontline workers and their tireless commitment to HIV care, COVID relief, and access to ongoing medical and mental healthcare.
Mother’s Day 2021 was a perfect day to celebrate and raise awareness about increasing health equity and improving the public health at a time when our community needs it the most.
Host Scott Nevins kicked off the show with aerial views of the DAP Health campus, and by wishing all moms a happy Mother’s Day.
"Whether you're a long-time supporter or hearing our story for the first time tonight, we'll give you a glimpse into the comprehensive quality and preventive care we provide to the entire community.”
By sharing incredible stories of DAP Health’s impact from donors, patients, and volunteers from around the Coachella Valley, Mr. Nevins made good on his promise.
Viewers were treated to uplifting performances by activist and legend, Shirley Lee Ralph and beloved recording artist Shoshana Bean.
This year’s program was a celebration of the Hope Begins with Health campaign — a $2 million fundraising initiative to propel DAP Health’s frontline work. Its ever-expanding patient population needs it to focus on: HIV care, COVID relief, and access to ongoing medical and mental healthcare.
After a brief introduction, Mr. Nevins started the show by chatting with CEO David Brinkman in front of a mural in the new Les Dames du Soleil Lounge, created to honor the comedy drag troupe. For years, Les Dames du Soleil helped fund health access in The Coachella Valley for people with HIV (PWH) through ticket sales and donations from their performances.
“Tireless humanitarians in high heels represent the story of DAP Health,” Mr. Brinkman said. “It's grassroots, it’s the LGBTQ community and our allies combatting stigma and discrimination, fighting for health equity with love and fearlessness.”
Mr. Nevins was quick to note, DAP Health’s wisdom and learning from the worst years of the AIDS crisis is driving new ways of increasing health equity today.
With COVID, “I felt like yet, once again, history was repeating itself and DAP Health was there for the community,” Mr. Nevins said, “Stepping up during a pandemic to take care of their own.”
The lounge was recently created as part of a promise to never forget DAP Health’s history.
DAP Health Brand Emerged to Fight COVID
A recent brand refresh and logo change took years of development and input from all stakeholders, and its 2021 launch came just in time for a community in distress. Mr. Brinkman was candid about why DAP Health’s approach to health equity is so essential today, and he included a challenge for everyone listening.
“It’s COVID. It’s racism. It’s poverty,” Mr. Brinkman said. “Our country needs all partners of all human rights movements to come together, including the LGBTQ community, to step up, leverage all our knowledge, our assets, and to create health equity—period.”
“It's our evolution,” he said.
Providing healthcare based on patient needs rather than their ability to pay is necessary for health equity, and DAP Health’s new logo conveys its commitment to helping more people.
“Our new logo conveys modernity, strength, freshness, and an innovative approach to healthcare--that it should be there for everyone,” Mr. Brinkman said.
This year’s Steve Chase event was a celebration of survival and perseverance. An entire community worked through its fear to ensure medical services remained continuous for patients. After 15 months of weathering a pandemic that has killed more than 580,000 people in the U.S. alone, DAP Health has added even more patients for ongoing medical care.
"Thousands of people in the last 12 months have come here seeking our help,” said Mr. Brinkman. "The response of our donors and volunteers and our staff have been to band together to treat the medical and mental health impacts of the last year.”
"The response has been challenging, but beautiful,” he said.
Mr. Brinkman remained focused on addressing what it will take to deliver on health equity, COVID care, ending HIV, and mental health services.
“While great progress has been made, we’re not out of the woods yet.”
This year’s Chase amplified the Hope Begins with Health campaign, aimed at addressing four areas of need greatly affecting people over the last year, and expected to get worse. DAP Health will:
- Increase our reach with HIV prevention, care and advocacy.
- Double the amount of mental healthcare services with more clinicians and a new Behavioral Health Clinic.
- Increase new medical healthcare patients, and offering them services to help with joblessness, food insecurity, and homelessness.
- Continue our COVID Clinic and hotline to ensure everyone can access prevention, information and treatment.
Board Chair Patrick Jordan helped everyone remember that funding care is still critical, even if things are different this year. He thanked everyone who donated.
“Tonight's Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards might be a little different from years past, but the spirit of giving continues to honor the legacy of our event’s namesake, Steve Chase,” he said. “To everyone who's donated so far, thank you.”
Mr. Jordan acknowledged his event co-chairs Laurie Kibby and Kevin Bass, and he thanked DAP Health board member Scott Nevins for hosting the show.
Board member Laurie Kibby explained how more people can be served since the brand evolution, supported by Hope Begins with Health.
“The rebranding of DAP Health takes us out of one lane and puts us in multiple lanes and allows us to broaden our reach across the community,” Ms. Kibby said. “And Hope Begins with Health is a message for the entire Coachella Valley.”
Kibby went on to cover an important topic many people don’t talk about; women living with HIV in our valley. Although local numbers skew towards white men who are middle age, this is hardly a complete picture of everyone. Her message?
"There's a whole community of women throughout the entire Coachella Valley who are need of the same services that the men are,” Ms. Kibby said. “Those with HIV need help in finding support services. They need mental health support services. They need healthcare, they need dental care, and DAP Health provides all of that.”
Health equity also means giving women with HIV opportunities to overcome and avoid isolation, a health risk for PWH, especially women. For DAP patient Lawanda Manigo, it has made all the difference.
“When I came up into DAP Health, the support and the love and the community of not just women, also men, transgender people--just the whole community--was so welcoming, and so loving, and so supportive, and so ready to help to see me succeed,” Ms. Manigo said. “Which helped me to believe that I could succeed and helped me to feel like even though I may be by myself a lot of times, I'm never alone.”
“It was through DAP Health that I was able to get connected with other women who are experiencing some of the same issues that I'm going through. And that we're able to surround me with a community that I was able to discuss these issues with and that I can feel safe and secure with to discuss these issues.”
Women Brought Activism Through Art and Heart
This year’s entertainers tugged at our heartstrings with moving vocal renditions of the classics, and powerful sentiments spoken from the heart.
Sheryl Lee Ralph shared about how losing a third of her fellow cast members to AIDS as she became the first Deena Jones in Dreamgirls on Broadway, galvanized her to become an activist for ending HIV. She delivered an inspiring combination of “When I First Saw You” and “Listen”.
Shoshana Bean captivated the audience with renditions of "With A Little Help From My Friends” and “This Is Me”.
Messages of Love to Mom
DAP Health frontline workers were featured giving video messages to their moms, and gratitude was the common thread.
Dining Out For Life
Palm Springs Dining Out For Life ranks in the top three fundraising markets in North America for the event. Thanks to more than 80 desert restaurants participating, every year DOFL brings in about $300,000 for client services at DAP Health. Mr. Nevins encouraged everyone to help these eateries bounce back by remembering to eat local.
"As a way to give back to them for their contributions, we're toasting all of them this evening and asking you our viewers to support these local eateries.”
Board member Kevin Bass explained why Dining Out For Life is so popular in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
“Dining Out For Life has become an event into itself where the community can come together, have fun, eat, drink, and enjoy themselves,” he said. “At the same time, supporting the amazing work of DAP Health.”
Board member Athalie LaPamuk called on everyone to take a cue from the tourists.
“We already have so many businesses that are skewed towards travelers,” she said. “So, the best way to ensure that Palm Springs continues to thrive as a city is to do as the tourists do--as locals--and dine and drink out, and shop local, and support our own businesses.”
A Special Appearance by Hometown Gem
Keisha Howardson is known on stage as Keisha D. Her kids just call her mom, but her grandkids call her 'Punky’. Besides her family, singing is everything to her. When COVID hit, one of Palm Springs’ most popular cabaret singers became so sick that she had been given a year to live.
That was before she became a patient of Dr. Morris, DAP Health’s chief medical officer. He had a different message for Ms. Howardson.
“Let's, let's talk about this, Keisha,” said Dr. Morris. “I'm here to help you live.”
From there, the journey of care began, helped along with a lot of encouragement.
“From walking in to see Dr. Morris, and hardly being able to even talk,” Ms. Howardson said, “to Dr. Morris saying, ‘trust me, you're going to be back on stage. I'm going to watch you on stage. I'm going to applaud you. I'm going to be there and applaud that day when you take that stage at the Purple Room again.’”
Keisha is singing again these days.
"I'm really thrilled and happy to be able to find that fighter inside of me, through the nurses and through the doctors at DAP Health,” she said. “Without their help, I probably would have been in a hospice situation, or maybe not even having this conversation with you today.”
New Behavioral Health Clinic Serving Double in 2021
Al Jones is a donor and on the Partners For Life leadership team, and he is in support of efforts to double capacity for mental health services at DAP Health with a new clinic. For him, this is personal.
Al’s partner and husband of 26 years, Mark Bird, passed away after keeping his depression a secret. Help was all around them, but Mr. Bird’s depression led him to cease his HIV treatment without telling anyone.
“Had we known we would have been able to get him the assistance that he needed,” said Mr. Jones. "DAP had the assistance, but we didn't know.”
Debilitating depression in some long-term HIV survivors leads them to stop taking their medication, and the results are often fatal. The condition is being studied currently. Mr. Jones also believes that the COVID pandemic is placing many other people at risk because of depression and isolation, and he wants to make a difference.
In the Mark Bird Behavioral Health Clinic, people who need to be met where they are at in their mental and emotional health journey will be given the competent care they deserve, thanks to Mr. Jones.
He also was eager to share his excitement about DAP Health’s mental health program leader, Dr. Jill Gover.
“There's somebody at DAP Health that you need to be aware of, and that's Dr. Jill Gover. She's absolutely amazing. She's very sensitive, but moreover, she's very intuitive,” Mr. Jones said. “And that intuitive nature is what's so important in a therapist. To be able to match a client with the appropriate therapist is really an art that you can't replicate, unless it's really innate.”
Dr. Gover explained why DAP Health is doubling its mental health capacity in 2021 with a new behavioral health clinic, and the new role everyday technology in connecting people.
“We’ve seen tremendous demand as stress surges across the nation and across the world, and it’s no different here in Coachella Valley.”
“This pandemic has been very triggering for many, because it reminds all of us who went through those harder years, the early days of the AIDS epidemic, there's been a lot that has been brought up emotionally for long-term survivors, remembering those, those painful memories.”
Other causes include needing to isolate and needing to be extra careful during COVID, because of the increased vulnerability and co-morbidities that long term survivors worry about.
“I think one thing that we learned from this pandemic is it's very important that we use the technology that we have available to us,” Dr. Gover said. “We were able to pivot quickly in this pandemic to telehealth and I don't see us going back.
“I think accessing technology in a way that increases availability is going to be increasingly important as we move forward,” she said. “Because we know the need for mental health services will only increase as time goes on.”
Dr. Gover was brimming with gratitude as she thanked Mr. Jones, Partners for Life, and everyone who contributes to DAP Health.
“It's all of these contributions that make it possible for us to do our work here at DAP Health,” Dr. Gover said. “And for that, I'm just enormously grateful.”
Health Equity Through Access to Healthcare
DAP Health believes health equity takes the work of our entire community. Advocating for each other is improving health outcomes for everyone. A few of our allies joined us this year to talk about synergy with DAP Health.
Western Wind Foundation
Helping people who are overlooked by traditional philanthropy is driving Jeremy Hobbs, founder of Western Wind Foundation. When he thinks of the potential locally, he wants to focus on what he calls building the ‘human infrastructure’ of the Coachella Valley.
“I want to work with organizations to help them get better, be able to better serve the people who are in need and who are working in the community. That makes the whole community better and makes all of us better.”
Questions he wants to answer are “How do we develop social strength? How do we develop economic strength? And how do we really let these communities be heard, make their own decisions about how they want to move forward and help them to do that?”
Alianza Coachella Valley
Health equity near the Salton Sea is priority one for Silvia Paz, founder and executive director of Alianza Coachella Valley.
“When you're talking about health, I like to think about access to food, access, to recreational spaces, to safe living conditions,” Ms. Paz said. “On top of having access to see a doctor, there are very few of those options offered for the people who live surrounding the Salton Sea. Alianza Coachella Valley and DAP Health have a shared value of creating safe spaces for our communities.”
"We want to see the community surrounding the Salton Sea access health in all of its forms. Not just going to the doctor, but also having the built infrastructure. That's going to allow them to exercise, to eat healthy and to even have better mental health,” she said.
Help From Our Friends: Desert Regional Medical Center and Desert Care Network
“DAP health, your team members are heroes. We're honored to be partnered with you,” said Michelle Finney, CEO, Desert Care Network.
“Tonight, we commend DAP Health for its immediate and thorough pandemic response its experience with HIV AIDS allowed it to quickly transition to serve our community during the pandemic DAP provided not only additional healthcare services, but testing vaccinations, its counseling, tele-health and much more.”
“Desert Regional Medical Center and Desert Care Network have enjoyed a long working partnership with DAP Health,” Ms. Finney said. “We share not only a history of caring for persons living with HIV, but also a commitment to serving the community.”
How COVID Hotline Made A Difference
When COVID hit, Dr. Ann Dew came out of retirement to volunteer her time and expertise for the response effort at DAP Health’s COVID Clinic, one of the first of its kind in California.
“Originally, we were just taking calls to take care of the people, get them scheduled for testing,” said Dr. Dew. “But then as more people became COVID positive and were discharged from the hospital, we also started keeping in touch with those people to make sure that they were doing well at home.”
The DAP Health COVID Hotline has been one of the only easily available sources for COVID information in the throughout the pandemic and continues serving callers today.
“Sometimes at the end of the day, when we get home, we were exhausted because so many of these people had questions about the virus,” Dr. Dew said. “And they had friends who didn't believe it and were in denial.”
Other callers had family members with COVID, and others were exposed to somebody at work. No matter what, Dr. Dew and her team were available with information and if necessary, an appointment.
"It was good that DAP Health had the COVID Clinic because there were not any information posts throughout the Valley,” said Dr. Dew. “Everybody else just set folks up for the testing.”
“The COVID Clinic could not have moved as swiftly as it did to help protect Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and the whole Valley,” said Dr. Dew. “If it hadn't been for all of the donors.”
“All we can say is you have saved lives. You have touched hearts. And because of you, we were able to help people find peace in this quarantine that they may not have been able to find otherwise.”
HIV Expertise Prepared Us for COVID Fight
Mike Fedderson and Thomas McClay are donors and Partners for Life Members. To them, offering a COVID Clinic, plus expanding healthcare access for more people, is possible while working to end HIV.
“The mission of providing help for HIV and AIDS is still a core principle, but not having universal healthcare means a lot of people go without healthcare and basic health needs,” said Mr. Fedderson. “In order to have a really healthy thriving community, everybody needs to have access to quality health care.”
“DAP Health really fills that gap in the Coachella Valley,” he said. “It's critically important to the community, and therefore to me and my husband.”
At Show’s Ending, Focus Remained on Mission
Scott Nevins closed the show from a mountain hilltop and reminded viewers about DAP Health’s behavioral health expansion, its response to the COVID 19 pandemic, and its groundbreaking work in HIV care. He thanked viewers and donors, and once again wished a happy Mother’s Day to the audience.
About DAP Health
DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 9,700 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of 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 is also working to improve social determinants of health to prevent 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 HCV testing. DAP has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.
The DAP Health Research Program is a leader in research that supports better health outcomes for people with HIV (PWH). The Program offers The ANCHOR Study at DAP Health, and research studies exploring antiretroviral medication and the effects of wellness on health.
Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.