AIDS Assistance Program/Food Samaritans Expands it Services
By Bob Bogard


AIDS Assistance Program – Food Samaritans was founded 25 years ago with the goal of helping the most at-risk members of the Greater Palm Springs community – people who are low-income and compromised by HIV/AIDS. It recently expanded its services to include people suffering from cancer, MS, heart or liver disease, and other chronic illnesses. Its ongoing mission is to ensure that all AAP clients can continue to live their lives with dignity and self-respect.

The organization was initiated by a small group of concerned citizens led by the late Gloria Greene (who began feeding these desperate souls from out of the back door of her restaurant) and Jeannette Rockefeller, and remains a grass roots community-based organization. A very small staff and a volunteer board of directors who work to assure that the largest percentage of every donated dollar goes directly to client services lead it. AAP raises 100% of its operational budget through private donations, community and local business support, special events and foundation grants. It receives no Federal or State funding.

AAP distributes $100 per month in food vouchers to each client. Each client is carefully vetted to confirm income and residency and some are randomly tested for illegal drug use. Vouchers are redeemable for all items except alcohol, tobacco or pet products. Clients may use these vouchers for food, household needs such as toiletries, hygienic products, and other personal items. Since its inception, has distributed more than $7 million in direct client service to more than 1,500 clients. AAP clients get by on an annual income of less than $17,500, and most AAP clients rarely, if ever, make it off of the client list.

Living with a chronic illness is not easy. HIV/AIDS continues to be a major health challenge in the Coachella Valley and across the world. While some people who have a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS are able to work and maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle, AAP serves those who unable to do so. Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, heart and liver disease all present similar challenges to those that must live with these devastating conditions. While there have been developments in treating these chronic illnesses, people who suffer from these are presented with daily challenges. AAP is there to provide comfort and support and improve the quality of life for those who need it the most.


Evening Under the Stars

Evening Under the Stars is a largest fundraiser for AAP. This is the 23rd annual Evening Under the Stars gala, and it will be held at the O’Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs. Gala festivities include a cocktail hour featuring innovative and refreshing drinks, delectable appetizers, inspirational honorees, a delicious dinner, exciting entertainment, dancing, and an amazing fireworks display.   The event that not only entertains attendees, but also informs them about AAP’s organizational mission and honors those in the community that have supported them. This year, the world famous group Village People will be the entertainment for the evening, and we expect the dance floor will be crowded as they perform their beloved and notable songs. Formed in 1977, Village People have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and recently received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Known for their high-energy shows and mega-hits like YMCA, Macho Man, Go West, and In the Navy, they are the undisputed “Kings of Disco.” Attendees will dust off their dancing shoes as this incomparable and beloved singing sensation will set the night on fire. Along with this fantastic entertainment component will be a short program that honors the individuals and organizations that keep us going. This year AAP will acknowledge Senator Barbara Boxer with the Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award, Dr. Terri Ketover with the Gloria Greene Inspiration Award, Cathy MacNaughton with the Herb Lazenby Community Service Award, Jane Wagner with the Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award and Walgreens with the new Corporate Angel Award.

Eisenhower Medical Center is the Presenting Sponsor of the event, and The Desert Sun is Presenting Media Sponsor. Additional major sponsors include Spencer’s Restaurant and Harold Matzner, Contour Dermatology, The Auen Foundation, MacNaughton Family Foundation, TRIO Restaurant, James R. Houston, Helene Galen, Ameriprise Financial, Scott Histed, Walgreens, Rich Young Design, Wade Endowment Fund, TIAA/CREF Financial Services – Donald Wolf, City of Palm Springs, and Donna MacMillan.

Evening Under the Stars was recently named, “Best of the Valley” in Desert Magazine’s competition and “Best Fundraising Event” in Palm Springs Life’s 2016 Best of the Best awards.

This Years Honorees

The 2016 honorees include: Senator Barbara Boxer (Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award), Terri Ketover (Gloria Greene Inspiration Award), Cathy MacNaughton (Herb Lazenby Community Service Award) and Jane Wagner (Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award). The new Corporate Angel Award will be given this year to Walgreens.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer – Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award

A forceful advocate for families, children, consumers, the environment and the State of California, Barbara Boxer became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives and six years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors. In November 2010, she was reelected to her fourth term in the Senate. A national leader on environmental protection, Senator Boxer is the ranking member on the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works and is the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. She is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she chairs the first subcommittee ever to focus on global women’s issues and is a member of the Democratic leadership in the Senate, serving as the Chief Deputy Whip since 2005.

The Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award honors Jeannette Rockefeller, the founding president of AIDS Assistance Program. The award was established in 1997 to honor the humanitarian efforts of outstanding community members and recognizes individuals who have lent their energy, commitment, and influence to raise awareness and funding for important issues including HIV/AIDS. Previous recipients include R. D. & Joan Dale Hubbard, Tim Hanlon, Helene Galen, James Houston, Harold Matzner, and Betty Francis.

Terri Ketover – Gloria Greene Inspiration Award

With a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Miami, Dr. Terri Ketover’s varied professional career has included a 9 year term as the Executive Director of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and a long association with the City of Miami as a Special Consultant to the Chief of Police and City Manager, as well as a research appointment at the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development. She has been officially recognized by the Florida House of Representatives and the White House for founding the “Do the Right Thing” Program, a nonprofit organization with chapters in 53 cities throughout the United States as well as Germany and England. She currently serves on the board of Desert AIDS Project and chaired their 100 Women annual giving program, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, is Vice-Chair of the Palm Springs Art Museum Annenberg Theater Council, and is Co-Chair of Michael Childers’ annual “One Night Only.”

The Gloria Greene Inspiration Award celebrates Greene’s insight, commitment and passion, illustrating the difference that just one person can make in their community. Prior recipients include Barry Manilow, Bob Hoven, Barbara and Jerry Keller, Dr. John Stansell and Gloria Greer.

Cathy MacNaughton – Herb Lazenby Community Service Award

Cathy MacNaughton has served as the Vice President of Administration and Regulatory Compliance for Managed Health Network, a managed behavioral healthcare company. She is active in various professional and charitable organizations and has served on the boards of the San Francisco Opera Guild, San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, Diablo Regional Arts Association, Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary, and Bay Area Community Resources. She has chaired numerous events and has been a long-time supporter of the AIDS Assistance Program and its Evening Under the Stars event.

The Herb Lazenby Community Service Award was created to recognize an individual’s outstanding commitment to service within their community. The award carries the name of its inaugural recipient, Dr. Herb Lazenby, whose name became synonymous with Community Service here in the Coachella Valley. Previous recipients include Lily Tomlin, Michael Childers, Brian Wanzek (aka Bella da Ball), Rabbi Sally Olins, Joyce Shampeny, John Williams and Richard DeSantis.

Jane Wagner – Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award

Jane Wagner, a distinguished American playwright, has won numerous awards, including two Peabody’s, four Emmy’s, a Writer’s Guild Award for her work in television, and the seldom-given NY Drama Critics’ Circle Special Award for her Broadway success, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Wagner made her writing debut with the acclaimed CBS teleplay entitled J.T. and her book of the same title. In 1971, Wagner began working with Lily Tomlin on an Edith Ann album entitled Edith Ann: And That’s the Truth, which began an award-winning, creative alliance that has lasted for more than 45 years. She went on to write and produce two more Grammy-nominated albums, Modern Scream (1975) and On Stage (1977). Together, Wagner and Tomlin also produced six television specials as well as three animated specials that Wagner wrote starring the precocious Edith Ann. In 1977, Wagner wrote and directed Appearing Nitely, a one-woman show in which Tomlin made her Broadway debut. Wagner subsequently wrote the screenplay for the film The Incredible Shrinking Woman. More recently, Wagner has written and produced an HBO documentary entitled An Apology to Elephants.

The Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award was created in 2011 to recognize and honor the critical contributions of AAP co-founder and Palm Springs resident and community activist Joanna Jakway. At the 2011 Evening Under the Stars, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of AIDS Assistance Program, the inaugural Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award was given to Jackie Lee and Jim Houston in honor of the countless lives they have touched. Additional honorees include John Federbusch, Gary Frey and Steve Kaufer.

Walgreens – Corporate Angel Award

Walgreens is one of the largest drugstore chains in the U.S., with more than 8,000 stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The company’s vision is to be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, well-being and beauty retailer while championing everyone’s right to be happy and healthy. It has been a long-term supporter of the AIDS Assistance Program through its annual Christmas stocking stuffer program.

The Corporate Angel Award was inaugurated in 2016 to recognize outstanding corporate partners that have supported AIDS Assistance Program consistently and with an abundance of heart.



Evening Under the Stars
April 30 / 6:00 pm
O’Donnell Golf Club