On the eve of World AIDS Day, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who in 1996 sponsored and helped pass legislation that designated the Grove as a National Memorial, was the featured speaker during the annual “Light in the Grove” fundraising gala in support of the National AIDS Memorial Grove’s mission. Much of the Grove was illuminated to honor those lost, and to celebrate the spirit of light and life. 600 guests experienced a candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends, followed by a walk through the brilliantly illuminated Redwood Grove to enter a warm and clear tent where they enjoyed cocktails and buffets. The evening included special musical and choreographed artistic performances.
“The Grove is a special place to come, not just to remember the loved ones we have lost, but to be reminded of the countless stories of the treasured lives whose spirits are a part of this beautiful space and who can never be forgotten,” said Congresswoman Pelosi. “Each year that passes without a cure only strengthens our resolve to end this devastating disease and stop this senseless loss of life.”
The 2014 Light in the Grove ‘Lifetime of Commitment’ award was presented to Ken Henderson, executive director, and Joe Seiler, board chair, of the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF). Ken and Joe’s story with REAF began twenty years ago when they began producing a fundraising entertainment event called ”Help is on the Way: San Francisco Cares” which has become one of the Bay Area’s largest annual AIDS benefit concerts, distributing more than $3 million to over 30 Bay Area AIDS service agencies.
REAF was founded in 1994 by two mothers, Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet, who each lost their only sons to AIDS, as a way to both honor their sons’ memories, and to raise funds for the kinds of agencies that provided services for them before they died. With the help of long-time friends Ken and Joe, these remarkable women inspired the mostly-volunteer organization that has helped so many AIDS organizations throughout the years.