By Desi Rubio, December 2015 Issue.
Each year, on the first day of December, people around the world gather in prayer, unite at vigils to pay respect to those living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate the 30 million individuals who have died from the disease since 1981.
To honor World AIDS Day here in the Valley, Aunt Rita’s Foundation will host its annual RED Brunch Dec. 5 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.
As the organization’s signature event, RED Brunch is not only a morning of remembrance but also a chance to recognize community members who are working to make a difference.
“This is an event where the community comes together after World AIDS Day to remember those we have lost and celebrate all the good work all the agencies have done in the community,” said Kit Kloeckl, Aunt Rita’s executive director.
According to event coordinators, nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend and guests are encouraged to incorporate something red in their attire.
While taking careful measures to guard the event’s elements of surprise, coordinators collectively offered one sentiment: This year’s RED Brunch will be unlike any other event Phoenix has to offer.
“We believe that we are all tired of the same format of everyone getting up and giving speeches,” Kloeckl explained. “We wanted to change it up but we are keeping it a surprise.”
Still, some key elements will remain the same as years past. For example, CBS 5’s Donna Rossi will be returning as this year’s host. And other friends and allies of the LGBT community, including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and his wife, Nicole Stanton, will be in attendance.
For returning guests, Kloeckl said, the event’s most popular components will also be returning.
As part of the NAMES Memorial Quilt Project, a variety of quilt panels will be on display at RED Brunch, including those of Randy Schrock, co-founder of the original Aunt Rita’s Foundation.
“The quilt is very emotional and the majority of the panels have been requested by individuals to bring in,” Kloeckl said, adding that the local tie is a significant part of both local history and the national scope.
Additionally, the event’s silent auction component will give attendees the opportunity to bid on donated items ranging from holiday wreaths and decorations to vacation packages.
Also as part of the event, Aunt Rita’s will present Heart Awards to three individuals who have continued to assist people with HIV/AIDS or have brought awareness to the community. Nominations were made by each agency in a 350-word essay that explained why this person deserves this award. All nominees were reviewed and voted on by Aunt Rita’s board members, and the three winners will be announced at RED Brunch.
“[This] gives us the opportunity to recognize people every year,” Kloeckl said. “The winners are awarded with a beautiful engraved crystal vase.”
Throughout the year, Aunt Rita’s hosts multiple fundraising efforts, including AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run and Viva Aunt Rita’s, the proceeds from which will be equally distributed to the organization’s 17 benefitting agencies as part of RED Brunch. Last year, Aunt Rita’s distributed $170,000 to the local agencies.
Some of the greatest differences being made in the lives of the nearly 15,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS, according to Kloeckl, are because of these agencies, which continued to provide such services as medical care, food and housing. And proceeds from RED Brunch’s silent auction and tickets sales will further support these efforts.
RED Brunch tickets are $100 per guest (all ages welcome) and, according to Kloeckl, include brunch prepared by a local chef, access to specialty cocktails, a silent auction, and, most importantly, the opportunity to learn more about this global pandemic.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 5
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
6902 E. Greenway Parkkway, Scottsdale
AIDS Candlelight Vigil
Community to gather in honor of the lives lost
In honor of the lives lost to HIV/AIDS, a world AIDS Day candlelight vigil will take place Dec. 1 at the Parsons Center for Health and Wellness.
Attendees are invited to meet at the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center and walk together over to the Parsons Center for Health and Wellness.
World AIDS Day, according to an Aunt Rita’s press release, “is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for those living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate those who have passed.”
The first World AIDS Day was held in 1988, and was the first-ever global health day. Worldwide, nearly 30 million people have died from AIDS since 1981, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
AIDS Candlelight Vigil
6 p.m. Dec. 1
Phoenix Pride LGBT Center
802 N. Second Ave., Phoenix
AIDS Memorial Quilt
The NAMES Project Foundation brings 15 panels to Phoenix for World AIDS Day
In honor of World AIDS Day, 15 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display at the Parsons Center for Health and Wellness Dec. 1-3.
Aunt Rita’s Foundation and the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, in partnership with COX Communications, present this free display of The NAMES Project Foundation.
The display will include 15 sections of the quilt, which consist of eight 3-by-6-foot panels, representing 120 lives, many from Arizona.
Two of the panels on display will represent trailblazers in the local community: Randy Schrock, co-founder of the original Aunt Rita’s Foundation, and Randy Gorbette, co-founder of Phoenix Shanti Group.
Additionally, Aunt Rita’s invites anyone interested in making a panel to add to the national quilt to deliver panels by the office (2700 N. Third St., #2012, in Phoenix) by Jan. 12, 2016.
For more information on panels, including instructions on how to construct them, visit auntritas.org or call 602-882-8675.
– Courtesy of Aunt Rita’s Foundation
AIDS Memorial Quilt display
7 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 1; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 2; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 3
The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness
1101 N. Central Ave., Phoenix