Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 – 1:45 PM
It’s over. Not finished in the final sense of the word, but the Desert’s season of charitable giving, stellar entertainment, themed parties and formals is now on hiatus, a respite unofficially marked by the spectacular fireworks display that ushered in an end to a night of gaiety known as “Evening Under the Stars,” benefiting AIDS Assistance Program (AAP).
For the past 22 years, “Evening Under the Stars” has produced a “sit-down” event that currently features more than 1,200 guests, al fresco, on the exclusive fairways of the O’Donnell Golf Club in downtown Palm Springs. It is an evening of “anything goes” (clothing-wise) with many guests appearing in hair-down, amazingly colorful attire… and this is just the men.
What makes AAP noteworthy is how it addresses its mission of providing meals to low-income men, women and children in the Desert who are suffering from HIV/AIDS or its effects.
Rather than package food in bulk and distribute what the organization has on its shelves, AAP provides its clients with food vouchers redeemable at local Stater Brothers Supermarkets, letting the clients determine what they need, helping to ensure that they can continue to live their lives with dignity and self-respect.
AAP is headed by CEO and Executive Director—Mark Anton, one of the most compassionate men in the Coachella Valley—and a five-member volunteer board of directors. They see that 100 percent of the funds needed for AAP’s operational expenses are generated by a growing donor base, local business support, special events and grant funding. Only two full-time employees and a host of volunteers manage the organization.
AAP’s “Evening Under the Stars” is also known for the quality of its entertainment, such as Barry Manilow, Carol Channing and Mary Wilson; and they were just in the audience. Darlene Love, an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, headlined the live entertainment this year, and urged the guests to get up and out on the dance floor. They didn’t have to be asked twice.
Two colleagues and local celebrities were among the evening’s honorees. Betty Francis, the Society News Director for The Desert Sun, received the Jennette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award for her efforts in spotlighting the events of non-profit organizations in the Coachella Valley, including AAP.
Gloria Greer, television and Social Life Editor, received the Gloria Greene Inspiration Award in recognition of what one person can do to improve a community.
There are two honorees who, jointly, received the Herb Lazenby Community Service Award: John Williams, in recognition of his commitment of service in the community; and Richard DeSantis, awards show Producer and designer involved with virtually all the high profile charity events over the years.
Mark Walberg, host of the highly-rated PBS program, Antiques Roadshow was the emcee for the evening. He diplomatically assured the audience that the name of his popular television program was not indicative of the reason for his participation in the event, causing some overly-bejeweled guests to give a sigh of relief. For more information about AAP and the good work it does, contact 760-325-8481.