Designer and humanitarian Steve Chase will receive the 427th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on February 8 presented by the City of Palm Springs and the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. The dedication ceremony will take place at 4:30 PM at the steps of the Palm Springs Art Museum. Three of the valleys most notable non-profit organizations will come together to honor Chase for the impact his support made locally. David Brinkman, CEO of Desert AIDS Project, Allen Monroe, CEO of The Living Desert, and Katherine Hough, Chief Curator at the Palm Springs Art Museum will each pay tribute to a man who impacted the work of their organizations.
Board Chair of Desert AIDS Project, Steve Kaufer, was a personal friend of Steve Chase and remembers Chase’s commitment to serving people living with HIV/AIDS. “D.A.P. started in 1984, and we had a small office, and then we moved to a facility on Vella Road in Palm Springs—but it was an industrial building,” Kaufer said. “I don't know what it had been used for before we moved in, but it was pretty rough around the edges, and Steve became involved. He used his talents and his firm, and he also leaned on a lot of his vendors to donate services and products that could be used in his work at the D.A.P. to make it look pretty.”
“He felt that, just because we were a charity, and we were dealing a lot of times with people who lived below the poverty level, we didn’t have to have an office that looked horrible. He wanted people who came in to have a nice environment in which to be in, to receive their care, and to work.”
In the 1980s and early 1990s, it was difficult to raise money for HIV- and AIDS-related service organizations like D.A.P., because the virus and disease such carried a huge stigma.
“It wasn’t popular to be a corporate sponsor of an AIDS program, and many people in the area of normal philanthropy didn't look at AIDS as an area that they wanted to get involved in,” Kaufer said. “Steve recognized that, and he used his celebrity and his contacts with major stars and big people like Joan Kroc, and President and Mrs. (Gerald) Ford, to try to expand the giving that D.A.P. received from groups that we normally wouldn't get funding from.”
Those contacts paid huge dividends, as did Chase’s personal generosity. Not only did he lend significant support to D.A.P. – he also gave major support to the organizations today known as The Living Desert and Gardens, and the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Humanitarian Steve Chase
Steve Chase founded Steve Chase Associates, his Rancho Mirage interior design firm, in 1980, following a lengthy and noted affiliation with Arthur Elrod Associates of Palm Springs. An acclaimed designer, Chase was active for many years in community organizations, including the Desert AIDS Project, the Palm Springs Desert Museum, The Living Desert Reserve, and The McCallum Theatre. During his firm’s formative stages, Chase offered design, consulting, and purchasing services to the McCallum Theatre, confirming his longtime passion for the performing arts. In addition, numerous projects were undertaken at The Living Desert Reserve where Chase was a Board Member. Chase worked closely with Reserve administration, offering both design and financial support for additions including Eagle Canyon and the Meerkat Café. Chase contributed $2.5 million to The Living Desert Reserve for construction of an administrative center and a collection of California landscape art. In addition, he gave $1.5 million and 132 works of art to the Palm Springs Desert Museum, which opened the Steve Chase Art Wing and Education Center in 1996.
Chase’s introduction to the Desert AIDS Project followed his Board work with The Design Alliance to Combat AIDS (D.A.C.A.) in Los Angeles. The impact and need for local community services was apparent early, and Chase was committed to serving the desert community following his departure from the D.A.C.A. Board. He was an annual participant in the Desert AIDS Walk and he was instrumental in bringing “Heartstrings” to the Coachella Valley in 1992. This production was followed by “A Valentine’s Gala” in 1993, when Betty Ford, Joan Kroc, and Chase were honored for their longtime compassion and personal dedication to the Desert AIDS Project and its clients. Chase introduced his friends, business associates, and clients to the Desert AIDS Project and encouraged their financial and personal involvement. This introduction led to the dedication and donation of the private residence of Joan Kroc to the D.A.P., a significant donation which allowed the D.A.P. to expand and broaden its mission.
Chase’s professional honors included Interior Design Magazine Hall of Fame Award, and Designer of the Year, presented to him by Designers West Magazine. The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards honors Steve Chase’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedication serves as the beginning to a weekend of events honoring the legacy of Steve Chase. The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards VIP party will follow the dedication inside the Palm Springs Art Museum for a guest list of donors and supporters of D.A.P. The 25th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards is February 9 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
To reserve your place at the party for the 25th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, go to www.stevechase25.eventbrite.com or call 760-992-0445.
This year’s awards will posthumously honor Steve Chase with Steve Chase Humanitarian Award honoring the impact 25 years of fundraising has made at Desert AIDS Project. The evening will also honor Geoff Kors and James Williamson’s marriage to community service when they are presented with the Partners for Life Award. Kors and Williamson have a long history of community leadership, focusing their time and resources on social and political issues as varied as LGBTQA+ rights, education, and healthcare. Long-time supporters of Desert AIDS Project, both are members of Partners For Life. Locally, Williamson served on the Palm Springs School Board and Kors is a member of the Palm Springs City Council. D.A.P. Chief Development Officer, Darrell Tucci explained why this award is so important. “Few individuals have made a lasting impact in our community with the purpose and clarity of Geoff and James.”