In the heart of Palm Springs, where the glitz and glamour of the city meet the challenges of the past, lies the poignant history of DAP Health and Revivals – a story that traces back to the early days of the AIDS pandemic.
The year was 1984, and in the face of a rapidly spreading epidemic, a group of dedicated volunteers gathered after-hours in the parking lot outside what is now the Revivals Palm Springs store. Their mission: to test men for HIV, offering a lifeline to those unaware of their status. Donald Beck, an original volunteer, reflects on those daunting times. “On the first night, it was probably seven, and then pretty soon it was 20, and it just developed. It was at a time when we were scared. It had to be word-of-mouth. We couldn’t advertise it anywhere because we were afraid they’d arrest us or something.”
As the epidemic claimed lives at an alarming rate, the LGBTQ+ community faced ostracization and fear. Friends and family turned away, leaving those affected isolated and stigmatized. In the midst of this crisis, a compassionate group — including a medical doctor, three registered nurses, a licensed clinical social worker, and two staunch supporters — took the bold step of establishing Community Counseling Consultation Center, or the Four Cs. In the organization’s earliest days, its leaders hesitated to use the term “AIDS” due to opposition from Frank Bogart, then mayor of Palm Springs, who vehemently rejected any association of the city with the term. “We didn’t know what he would do to anyone he found out was working on this, which we thought was really to help our community,” says Beck.
The Four Cs operated out of a small space on Belardo Road in Palm Springs. The journey to progress was marked by struggles, with financial constraints and societal prejudices posing significant challenges. Yet, the group persisted, growing with each small victory.
In a turning point, the organization received a $100 gift, a significant milestone. “When that donation came in, we thought we had really made it,” recalls Beck. “Because we’d been getting a dollar here, five dollars there. We almost wanted to frame that big check.” But instead of framing it, the Four Cs expanded its services, moving into a larger space in Palm Springs. Volunteers played a crucial role, offering health education, prevention programs, HIV testing, social services, and counseling.
Eventually, the organization’s name was changed to the Desert AIDS Project (DAP), acknowledging publicly what it was doing and who it was serving. With growth came the need for funding, leading to the birth of Revivals in 1994.
From its humble beginnings, a single Revivals has blossomed into a beloved and respected chain of stores across the valley, including outposts in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Indio, and Palm Desert. These stores, so much more than just resale shops, now contribute more than a million dollars annually to support DAP Health’s mission of protecting and expanding access to health care in our region.
‘The People Behind the Purpose’ introduces us to volunteers at Revivals stores across the valley and their dedication, emphasizing the impact they have on the community and the success of Revivals as a fundraising force for DAP Health. People like Barbara, who shares her history of volunteering, including experiences at the rape center and women’s shelter in St. Paul, MN. She draws a personal connection to the cause, having lost a close friend to AIDS during the early days of the pandemic.
The special sheds light on the close-knit community within Revivals stores, where volunteers develop relationships with regular customers, creating community connections. Stories of individual volunteers like Mark, Kevin, and Debbie showcase the diverse backgrounds and motivations that contribute to the overall success of the brand. Kevin emphasizes the intentional nature of Revivals’ work, mirroring the philosophy of DAP Health. He discusses meaningful interactions with customers, fostering an inclusive and respectful environment.
Throughout the program, the message is clear: Revivals is a community hub, a fundraising powerhouse, and a testament to the compassion and commitment of its volunteers. Today, as Revivals stores dot the landscape, they are a symbol of the enduring spirit of volunteers — the lifeblood of the mission. But Revivals stores are so much more than resale stores. They’re ground zero for today’s volunteers, those who see the need and rise to meet it. Just as it was in that parking lot 40 years ago, the volunteers are the ones who make it all possible. Then, and now, they are the people behind the purpose. The legacy of DAP Health and Revivals intertwines with the resilience of a community that faced adversity and emerged stronger, with dedicated individuals ensuring that the stories of compassion and care continue to be written.