The 2017 honorees include: Dr. Timothy Jochen and Lee Erwin (Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award), Gregg Selleck (Gloria Greene Inspiration Award), Laurie Weitz (Herb Lazenby Community Service Award) and Bob Pollock (posthumously) (Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award). The Corporate Angel Award will be given this year to Eisenhower Medical Center. For more about this year’s honorees, please see below.
“AAP – Food Samaritans could not fulfill our mission without the dedication and support of the incredible people and organizations that support us,” said Mark Anton, CEO/Executive Director of AAP – Food Samaritans. “Without their caring and inspirational guidance, we would not be able to support the nutritional needs of those low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses in our community. We are so very grateful for their unyielding kindness that they exhibit on a daily basis not only for AAP, but for many other organizations across the entire Coachella Valley.”
Evening Under the Stars gala festivities will begin with a ‘quintessentially Palm Springs’ sunset cocktail hour on the grounds of the O’Donnell Golf Club against a backdrop of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, widely regarded as one of the most festive cocktail receptions of the season. A short awards program will recognize the inspirational honorees, followed by a delicious dinner, and a performance by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. After their show, dancing will continue with DJ Jerry Bonham on the main stage followed by an amazing fireworks display. Tickets for the benefit, priced at $395 and $500 per person, are available for purchase and individual VIP seats and sponsorships are also available. Congratulatory tribute ads for the honorees in the gala program are available until March 31. To attend or for more information, call 760-325-8481 or click here.
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, Grace Helen Spearman Foundation, Contour Dermatology, The Auen Foundation, TRIO Restaurant, James R. Houston, Ameriprise Financial, and Walgreens. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
The event will feature a performance by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, an iconic Motown group that had, in their heyday, more than 26 hits and were a constant presence on the music charts, as well as on television and in top music venues across the US and abroad. Ten of their songs reached the top ten of the Billboard R&B singles chart, and two were R&B number one hits. Six of their songs were Top Ten Pop Hits on the Billboard Hot 100. They are most known for their major hits “Heat Wave,” “Dancing In The Street,” “Jimmy Mack,” and “Nowhere To Run.” Attendees will get their groove on as this beloved singing group electrifies the audience.
Desert Magazine recently announced that AAP – Food Samaritans received TWO coveted awards in the 2017 Best of the Valley Reader Picks awards. AAP received “Best Charity” and Evening Under the Stars won “Best Fundraising Event.”
Over the years, Evening Under the Stars has featured the talents of a wide variety of entertainers. In 2014, an electrifying performance by the First Ladies of Disco – Linda Clifford, France Joli, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Maxine Nightingale, Pamala Stanley, Anita Ward, Martha Wash, and the ladies formerly of Chic: Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin, and Norma Jean – had everyone on their feet with an amazing night of 70’s dance music. Over the years, headliners Nell Carter, Tyne Daly, Melissa Manchester, Jane Oliver, Lorna Luft, Bea Arthur, Barry Manilow, Nancy Wilson, Lily Tomlin and the entire remaining cast of Laugh In, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Pink Martini, The B-52s, The Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper, Darlene Love, and Village People have all taken the stage in support of this very worthy cause.
Now in its 26th year of service to the community, AIDS Assistance Program of Palm Springs remains dedicated to providing nutritional support to improve the quality of the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. Initiated by a small group of concerned citizens led by the late Gloria Greene and Jeannette Rockefeller, AAP provides nutritional support to members of the community with low incomes. For more information, please call 760-325-8481 or visit aidsassistance.org.
Dr. Timothy Jochen and Lee Erwin – Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award
Dr. Timothy Jochen and Lee Erwin are great examples of giving back to the community they love. They are major contributors to more than 40 non-profit organizations in the Coachella Valley including AAP – Food Samaritans, which they have supported for more than thirteen years. Other charitable organizations they support include American Cancer Society, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the Desert, Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley, Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert, Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, Desert AIDS Project, Desert Cancer Foundation, Gilda's Club Desert Cities, Guide Dogs of Desert, Jewish Family Service of the Desert, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Palm Springs Women in Film & TV, Shelter from the Storm, The Living Desert, Well in the Desert, and many more. Dr. Jochen and Lee Erwin were recently honored as business visionaries and philanthropists with the 411th star on Palm Canyon Drive.
Dr. Jochen, a board certified dermatologist, founded Contour Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center (now the largest dermatology practice in the Valley with offices in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs). Dr. Jochen serves on the Board of Trustees at Palm Valley School and is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has been named “Teacher of the Year” several times and has been voted a Top Doctor by his peers in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Lee Erwin is the Executive Director of Contour Dermatology. A graduate of the University of Florida with a BS in Computer Engineering, Lee was a computer consultant before joining Contour Dermatology. He was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service of the Desert. Dr. Jochen and Lee Erwin have lived in the Coachella Valley since 2001 and have a twelve-year-old daughter, Ashley, who attends Palm Valley School.
The Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award honors Jeannette Rockefeller, the founding president of AAP – Food Samaritans. 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 Earl Greenberg, R. D. & Joan Dale Hubbard, Michael Leppen, Tim Hanlon, Helene Galen, James Houston, Harold Matzner, Betty Francis, and Senator Barbara Boxer.
Gregg Selleck – Gloria Greene Inspiration Award
Gregg Selleck grew up in Los Angeles, and at the age of 22 moved to Palm Springs and started his construction company. Gregg was introduced to community service by Jeannette Rockefeller, the founding president of AAP – Food Samaritans and a legendary Coachella Valley philanthropist. At first Gregg helped the organization in small ways, including building the stage for the very first Evening Under the Stars – which took place in then Board President Blair Alexander’s back yard – in 1993. From those humble beginnings, he quickly went on to become a board member and has been a tireless volunteer ever since. His dedication to AAP – Food Samaritans became a passion, and in the months preceding Evening Under the Stars, Gregg’s focus would shift from working on his client’s homes to collecting items for the auction. Gregg remained active on the board for many years and in 2008 he was honored by Greater Palm Springs Pride as their ‘Man of the Year.’
The Gloria Greene Inspiration Award was founded under the concept that great movements often begin with one person’s simple inspiration – such as when Gloria Greene began handing out food to those with HIV/AIDS from the back door of one of her restaurants right here in Palm Springs. Since 1999, The Gloria Greene Inspiration Award has celebrated Gloria’s insight, commitment and passion, illustrating the difference that just one person can make in their community. Prior recipients include Barry Manilow, Bob Hoven, Ginger Carter, John Bowab, Barbara and Jerry Keller, Dr. John Stansell, Gloria Greer and Terri Ketover.
Laurie Weitz – Herb Lazenby Community Service Award
Laurie Weitz has been part of the creative side of the arts and entertainment industry for many years. She and husband Larry have been together for more than 20 years and worked together as executive recruiters for 18 years under their corporation, Weitz and Associates. They enjoyed much success turning less-successful companies into robust and profitable ones under their leadership and business expertise. They began spending time in the Coachella Valley in 2009 and fell in love with the people and lifestyle the city of Palm Springs offers. Laurie is extremely involved in many Coachella Valley organizations. She has raised awareness and funds for AAP – Food Samaritans, Palm Springs Art Museum, Desert Cancer Foundation, Desert AIDS Project, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and many others. She serves as a board member for Modernism Week and has been a longtime patron of the arts. She recently curated several cutting edge gallery shows, has produced a variety of trunk shows, and has donated her hand-crafted jewelry to be used for auctions. As a humanitarian and philanthropist, Laurie is fully committed to her vision that all Valley communities will begin to blend together to be a more integrated culture.
The Herb Lazenby Community Service Award was created to recognize an individuals 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, Richard DeSantis, and Cathy MacNaughton.
Bob Pollock (posthumously) – Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award
Robert Mason "Bob" Pollock was a cheerful, kind, witty man and a major philanthropist who donated to many Coachella Valley nonprofits including AAP- Food Samritans, ACT for MS, and the College of the Desert. Bob was a fervent and long-time supporter of AAP until his death in July 2016 at the age of 99. He was extremely influential in Hollywood for his many contributions, but is perhaps best known for his work as a screenwriter for the television show "Dynasty." Bob shared his life with his longtime wife Eileen, better known as "Mike," a nickname she earned from Bob because they met over radio microphones. They were a true love story. They met in New York while working on "My True Story," a radio drama. The couple then worked together on the television shows "Dynasty" and "The Colbys," and were awarded a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 1997. Mike died in December of 2012, just three weeks after she and Bob celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. One of the last things he said was, 'I'm almost 100 years old. I've lived an amazing life. I miss my wife and I just want to be in peace.'" AAP – Food Samaritans will forever honor this great man and philanthropist.
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 AAP – Food Samaritans, the inaugural Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award was given to Jackie Lee and Jim Houston in honor of the countless lives they impact. Additional honorees include John Federbusch, Gary Frey, Steve Kaufer and Jane Wagner.
Eisenhower Medical Center – Corporate Angel Award
As the valley’s only not-for-profit hospital, Eisenhower Medical Center has provided high quality, compassionate care for more than 40 years through a full range of state-of-the-art diagnostic, treatment, and emergency facilities. Eisenhower is an accredited teaching hospital, with a School of Graduate Medical Education training new physicians in the specialties of family medicine and internal medicine.
Eisenhower Medical Center has locations across the Coachella Valley for convenient, quality health care. The main campus and hospital is located on 130 acres in Rancho Mirage. Eisenhower Medical Center is a dynamic, progressive health care complex comprised of a 463-bed hospital, the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower, and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower in addition to its outpatient facilities in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, and La Quinta. The Betty Ford Center is also located on the Eisenhower campus. Eisenhower not only offers the highest quality health care for residents and visitors, but additionally provides a broad range of educational programs for the public and for health care professionals.
One of the hallmarks of Eisenhower Medical Center’s reputation as a premier health care facility is the significant financial support provided by a broad base of generous donors. Philanthropy and volunteerism continue to play a major role in Eisenhower’s ability to fulfill its mission: "To serve the changing health care needs of our region by providing excellence in patient care with supportive education and research."
Dedicated in 1971, Eisenhower Medical Center is named in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who lived part-time in the Coachella Valley during his retirement. Eisenhower Medical Center works closely with AAP to provide financial support and other services for its clients.
The Corporate Angel Award was created to recognize outstanding corporate partners that have supported AAP – Food Samaritans consistently and with an abundance of heart.