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DAP Health Celebrates Vision Forward Don …

DAP Health Ends Season with Double Ribbon-Cutting

Some 200 invited Partners for Life members gather to celebrate the expansion made possible by the ongoing Vision Forward campaign

By Daniel Vaillancourt

DAP Health hosted a season-closing event at its Palm Springs campus on the evening of May 4. Invited guests included some 200 members of the popular Partners for Life donor program, who not only witnessed a double ribbon-cutting but saw with their own eyes the considerable progress that’s been made in the organization’s physical expansion over the last year through contributions to the ongoing Vision Forward capital campaign.

The affair — which featured cocktails and wine, plus a generous sampling of delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy, as always, of Jerry Keller’s Lulu Catering — began, appropriately, in the Barbara Keller LOVE Building, which houses mental health services, the dentistry department, and the social services wing. Jerry Keller’s wife Barbara, who passed away in 2019, was a longtime supporter of DAP Health, and served as the president of its board of directors from 2009 to 2019.

Al Jones — whose major gift made the Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic, named after his late husband, a reality — was the first donor to speak. His heartfelt address was followed by the official ribbon-cutting of that new facility.

“Lance and I were honored to participate in the new mental health clinic, as the need is so great for our community,” added Scot Karp, speaking on behalf of himself and of his husband. Marc Byrd’s reception area was named thanks to a gift from the pair’s Karp Family Foundation.

Jones and the Karps were followed by Sue Burnside, the donor after whom DAP’s group therapy quarters is named. “I’m so excited,” said Burnside, who benefitted greatly from group therapy as a queer youth, “because I really think people’s lives are going to be changed in this room.”

Also on hand to speak about why they donated to name the social services wing were spouses Karla Kjellin-Elder and Jeff Elder, who impressed upon the assembled group that, since they recently relocated from Orange County to the desert, it was important for them to crystallize their commitment to their newly adopted community.


From there, attendees moved to the recently dedicated Annette Bloch CARE Building, currently home to the Blue, Green, and Yellow Clinics (all devoted to primary care), and soon to welcome the Orange Clinic (sexual health). Prior to the second ribbon-cutting (which marked the recent opening of the Blue and Green Clinics), Dante Noto — whose gift lent his name to the Blue Clinic Bullpen — spoke about his desire to pay tribute to the many doctors, nurses, and staff members who work in tandem every day to care for DAP’s more than 10,000 patients.

Last to speak at the soirée was DAP Health CEO David Brinkman, who thanked the agency’s many benefactors and community supporters for showing their support at special events held throughout the year — from the Desert AIDS Walk in the fall, to February’s Annette Bloch CARE Building dedication, to DAP’s biggest annual fundraiser, April’s The Chase.

In addition to Burnside, the Elders, Jones, the Karps, and Noto, other major donors in attendance included Steve Tobin and Johnny Kruppa of the Grace Helen Spearman Foundation.

Prior to the season-ending get-together, we asked all those who participated in available naming opportunities related to the Vision Forward campaign to tell us, in their own words, why it was important for them to give to DAP Health in the ways they did. Their responses are as follows:


Sue Burnside

The Sue Burnside Group Room

Group therapy harnesses the collective energy of community, and the powerful — indeed, life-changing — knowledge that none of us is alone. There is transformative, healing magic in such knowledge… Bearing gentle witness to the challenges, heartbreaks, highs, and lows of others is therapeutic, both for the listener and for the listened-to. This simple beauty of connection and community — the single most significant healing force in the world — reminds us of our shared human condition and our responsibility to one another. I’m grateful to contribute to such beautiful efforts in this small way.

Dr. Jim Cox

The Yellow Clinic’s Jack Pugh Charitable Trust Chiropractic Suite

It simply feels good to contribute to the well-being of others by giving to an institution that has wisely diversified in order to achieve longevity. As the population of the Coachella Valley continues to expand, there is — and will always be — a shortage of health care providers. We cannot afford to let one institution fail, particularly one that increasingly caters to a demographic being squeezed out by gentrification and rising inflation. Not to mention one that still prides itself on the care for those living with HIV/AIDS, an area where DAP not only has deep roots but, thankfully, the will to never give up.

Karla Kjellin-Elder & Jeff Elder

The Social Services Wing

We are part of this Coachella Valley community and, for us, being part of a community means we help each other. DAP has been making a difference in so many lives for years. We want to help them continue their work. Donating to the social services wing at DAP is our way of helping to make that difference.

Mike Feddersen & Tom McClay

The Blue Clinic Reception Area

Because it’s extremely important to us that quality health care be made available to every person in the Coachella Valley, regardless of ability to pay, we very much wanted to support DAP’s Vision Forward campaign. Blue being our favorite color, we are honored to have our names located on the Blue Clinic Reception Area. We congratulate DAP Health on its many worthwhile endeavors and are thankful to be part of its vision.

Al Jones

The Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic

In August of 2018, my husband of 26 years, Marc Byrd, died. He’d been HIV positive yet undetectable for 30 years, thanks to his faithfully taking a daily regimen of 19 pills. But a few months prior to his passing — unbeknownst to me — Marc chose to cease medicating himself, the result of severe depression he was so successful at hiding that not even I could fathom the depths of his despair. His immune system plummeted, leading to his body’s inability to fight off pneumonia. Had those of us who loved Marc been aware of his emotional state, we could have urged him to seek and receive the mental health support offered at DAP Health. His life might have been saved. I decided to make a contribution — an investment — in DAP in order to create the Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic, which will help the organization provide a host of expanded services and treatments that will prevent others from succumbing to hopelessness. 


Scot & Lance Karp

The Mental Health Services Reception Area

With so many of our fellow community members having been so adversely affected by the pandemic, we feel the need for mental health care, support, and services is greater than ever. We’ve always been impressed with the broad-based portfolio of healing DAP Health provides, and admire the awareness, expertise, and stability brought by the organization’s long history with our community. We are not only honored to be able to support mental health wellness; we feel it’s our obligation. Through our continued involvement, we sincerely hope many others may be inspired to contribute what they can.

Dante Noto

The Blue Clinic Clinical Bullpen

As a long-term HIV survivor, I was moved to make a legacy gift to DAP Health to honor friends, past and present, living and dying with HIV/AIDS. Members of the LGBT community have always stood together to save our own lives. DAP promises the same commitment to the entire desert community. My gift supports the Blue Clinic Clinical Bullpen to honor the tireless health care team at DAP.

Steve Tobin & Johnny Kruppa

The Orange Clinic Reception Area

Because DAP Health’s mission is perfectly aligned with the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation’s mission of helping to “improve the lives of the needy and less fortunate in our community,” it was imperative that we contribute to DAP’s Vision Forward campaign by naming The Orange Clinic Reception Area after Ms. Spearman in memory of her kind and loving vision.

For more information about DAP Health’s Vision Forward campaign, please contact Director of Development James Lindquist at [email protected] or 760.656.8413.