RED Brunch 2014
By Laura Latzko, Dec. 4, 2014 Issue.
A banner hangs from Phoenix City Hall as part of a World AIDS Day effort promote HIV/AIDS awareness by Aunt Rita’s Foundation. For more information, visit HIVAZ.org.
Photo courtesy of Aunt Rita’s Foundation
On the heels of the international observance of World AIDS Day, Aunt Rita’s Foundation hosts its annual RED Brunch gala Dec. 6.
The event, hosted by CBS 5’s Donna Rossi, will include an HIV/AIDS timeline, a silent auction, an awards presentation, guest speakers and award funds to member agencies.
According to Kit Kloeckl, Aunt Rita’s executive director, the brunch serves a similar purpose to other World AIDS Day events, in that it raises awareness about the disease and virus, draws attention to the continuing need for research, care and prevention and also pays tribute to lives lost to HIV and AIDS.
“It’s an opportunity to bring the community together to remember the people we’ve lost,” Kloeckl said.
The brunch gala will also include a short preview of The Last One, a documentary that takes a closer look at the history and impact of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Kloeckl said the movie had a profound impact on Aunt Rita’s board members, who watched it in August.
“When the movie ended, nobody moved from their chair, it’s that powerful of a movie,” he said. “It gives you the enormity of the disease at that time.”
Guest speakers Heidi and Isaac Simon, woman and her son, will share their story about how HIV have impacted their lives.
Additionally, the event will include a timeline presentation, with a video and photos, to give attendees an overview of major events that occurred during the AIDS epidemic, beginning in the 1980s.
Kloeckl said that through the timeline, people from different generations can learn more about the history of the disease and its impact within our community and beyond.
“I think there are a lot of things people don’t know, and they are going to be surprised to learn as they look at this timeline,” Kloeckl said. For example, he added, that while helping to put together the timeline, he was surprised to learn that AIDS was the leading cause of death for all men ages 25 to 44 in 1992.
Similarly, Jeremy David Schachter, RED Brunch co-chair, said this community event helps to show the younger generation how HIV and AIDS impacted the community at the height of the epidemic.
“There’s kind of a generation gap with the history of HIV and AIDS and how it impacted our community at large, and worldwide,” he said. I’m not too old … but I remember as a young kid knowing I was gay … and with HIV and AIDS coming around and Ronald Reagan as president, it was pretty impactful.”
Schacter added that it’s important to educate the younger generations that don’t remember the impact HIV/AIDS had on so many lives in that era.
“I feel like we are re-educating the community at large because there’s still no cure,” he said.
As someone who has friends who are HIV positive, Schacter is always emphasizing how important it is for everyone, regardless of whether they are positive or not, to be involved in prevention and awareness efforts in some way.
“I’m not HIV positive, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the people who are affected by the disease,” Schacter said. “In your circle of friends, you just don’t know. I think it takes a brave soul to come out because there’s still a lot of prejudice against people.”
For the third year, Aunt Rita’s will honor individuals who have made a difference with their work in the HIV and AIDS community through Heart Awards.
Member agencies can nominate individuals, either within or outside their organization, for the awards. The board of directors of Aunt Rita’s voted on the nominees, and the winners will be announced at the brunch.
The event will also feature silent auction for items such as jewelry, artwork, trips, a wine-tasting experience, a dinner from the Chef Gabriele Bertaccini, participation in a wine pool with packaged wine bottles and decorated the wreaths and Teddy bears created by the Arizona chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers. All proceed go to Aunt Rita’s Foundation.
Each year at the RED Brunch, the foundation presents checks to the benefiting organizations. According to Kloeckl, Aunt Rita’s gave out more than $340,000 to 18 organizations last year alone. This year’s award funds will be revealed at the bunch. e
Contribute to the AIDS Memorial Quilt
Although the RED Brunch will take place following all of this year’s scheduled public viewings of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, Aunt Rita’s will be accepting donated quilt panels through Jan. 12.
Kloeckl said the quilt panels give community members more of an idea of the impact of HIV and AIDS has in the LGBT community since the start of the epidemic.
This year, Kloeckl requested a panel of his friends in Minnesota who died of AIDS. The panel of the deceased partner of Peter Rodriguez, of the Joshua Tree Feeding Program’s board, was also on display in Arizona this year.
Last year at RED Brunch, Phoenix realtor Jan Dahl saw two quilt panels she made in honor of local men who had died of AIDS, including one dedicated to her best friend who passed away in 1991, for the first time in 20 years.
“I was really moved,” she said. “The thing that impressed me the most was it was in pristine condition. It’s a way to honor our friends’ memories.”
After she made the quilt, Dahl walked with the quilt and presented it at the Phoenix Convention Center. After that, it was displayed in different parts of the country, including Washington D.C.
During the late ’80s Dahl began working in the HIV and AIDS community with organizations such as the Shanti Group, adding that she had five friends who died of AIDS in 1991 alone.
Dahl said community members came together to help in any way they could, whether it was to provide emotional support or take care of people with HIV.
“AIDS brought a lot of us together,” Dahl said. “We really matured as a community.”
Today, Dahl feels strongly that the RED Brunch that the AIDS Memorial Quilt are important ways to honor the lives lost.