Helping those with HIV/AIDS in the Coachella Valley

Many people are acutely aware that the Palm Springs Valley boasts some of the most award-winning and cutting-edge medical facilities for miles around—first and foremost being Rancho Mirage’s own Eisenhower Medical Center.  What some men and women may not know is that the desert is also home to two of the most respected AIDS service organizations in the nation: AIDS Assistance Program (which provides nutritional support for men, women, and children affected by the disease in the greater Palm Springs area) and Desert AIDS Project (devoted to care, prevention, and advocacy—one of only a handful of agencies nationwide that operates an on-site medical clinic, offers a full range of client support services, and steers a comprehensive HIV education and prevention program, including free and confidential HIV testing).

Running these charitable organizations is a big-budget business, and it’s no wonder that at the height of the season, both AAP and DAP host their biggest annual benefits.

Desert AIDS Project will celebrate 30 years of community service at the 20th anniversary of its Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards on Saturday, February 8.  Held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, the black tie gala will not only honor a quartet of generous philanthropists whose time and money have helped the cause immeasurably, but will focus on four teams of filmmakers whose motion pictures have—over the last 30 years—shed light on the struggles and gains of people living with HIV/AIDS the world over.  The films highlighted in this “AIDS in Cinema” program are documentary “How to Survive a Plague” as well as narrative features “Boys on the Side,” “And the Band Played On,” and “Philadelphia.”  Beloved TV and Broadway performer Jane Krakowski will headline a roster of singers and dancers that will regale the crowd with powerhouse musical numbers.

On Saturday, May 3, AIDS Assistance Program will present its annual gala Evening Under the Stars, subtitled “With the First Ladies of Disco” this year.  Held at the O’Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs, the event—which will in 2014 eschew black tie in favor of seventies disco duds—is an outdoor extravaganza that will pay tribute to a half-dozen local heroes.  Built around author James Arena’s two recent books, “First Ladies of Disco” and “First Legends of Disco,” the night will boom and vibrate with the grooves and voices of iconic singing stars such as Anita Ward (“Ring My Bell”), Maxine Nightingale (“Right Back Where We Started From”), Evelyn Champagne King (“Shame”), Martha Wash (“It’s Raining Men”), and France Joli (“Come To Me”), who also wrote the foreword to the “Legends” tome.

Each of these fantastically crowd-pleasing fundraisers also features an extravagant silent auction.  I have a feeling that if you have your heart set on a fabulous pair of vintage sequined boogie oogie dancing shoes, you may just find them…  See you there!

Coachella Valley AIDS Benefit

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