Help Is On The Way

By Genevieve Dee

Images by Chris Miramon

At the Palace of Fine Arts, ushers welcome you dressed in red jackets embellished with shiny, gold buttons, a cap and bright, smiling faces. Images of Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line, The Full Monty and Cabaret decorate the wall. Tables laden with items up for auction artfully displayed tempt and beguile.  Photographs and paintings surround you demanding a second look while sculptures and crystal vases twinkle as it catches the light.   In the background, familiar melodies emanate from a piano that sits on a stage.

Tonight boasts interesting company.  We have Marilyn Monroe, a Pirate from the Caribbean, James Brown, a couple of Vegas Showgirls, Chippendale dancers and even Beach Blanket Babylon’s “San Francisco”!

Prime Rib from Harris’,  Truffle Mushroom Cheesecakes from 25 Lusk or Ala Romana’s Mango Ceviche fill empty stomachs, as did the bite sized offerings of Dantes Kitchen and Chowder from Blue Mermaid. A beautiful fruit and cheese table entices everyone for a second, third, and, even a fourth time. For the adventurous, Barry Picazo of Fort McKinley, the only Asian restaurant, educate and impress with his Lechon Wrap, Pancit Bami and Halo-Halo Shooters!  Champagne from Mumm, wine from Wente, Layer Cake, Spicy Vines, Rosenblum to name but a few vineyards, flow to quench thirsty throats.  Cocktails by Ketel One and Tequila from Don Julio keep everyone happy and bubbly.

The mood is light and fun. Everyone is stylish and fashionable.  This is Help is on the Way, Northern California’s largest AIDS Benefit Concert and Gala. It is presented by the Richmond Ermet AIDS Foundation.

Turning the devastating loss of their only sons, John Richmond and Doug Ermet to AIDS, Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet honor them by forming The Richmond/Ermet Aids Foundation (REAF).  With a mission to ease the pain and suffering of those afflicted with AIDS and HIV, this non-profit organization raises funds for AIDS-related service organizations.  In keeping with their sons’ passion for the entertainment industry, the foundation produces shows that allow people, especially from the industry, to contribute to show their love and support.  This year, primary beneficiaries include Abzyme Research Foundation, Aguilas, AIDS Legal Referral Panel and The Positive Resource Center.

Proving that giving and helping can be fun, this year’s production showcased an impressive array of talent.  Carole Cook, Richard Chamberlain, regaled with song as did Florence Henderson dressed in leather, fishnet stockings, boots and complete with a leather whip on hand!  Oh, what a sight! Wesley Alfvin and Jeffrey Scott Parsons did a tap number alongside Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, while the dizzying twists and turns of John Narvaez and Andrew Cervantes to the salsa beat electrified the room.  Paula West, Roslyn Kind, Alex Newell and Valerie Pettiford sang Broadway songs while concert pianist Marta Lledo played a piano solo.   Likewise, Jake Simpson and Alex Newell amazed with their vocal ranges. In the end, the whole cast sang Help is on the Way led by Maureen McGovern while songwriter and composer David Friedman played the piano.

In between acts, a live auction led by Liam Mayclem featured one of a kind experiences and trips of a lifetime.  It truly was a wondrous night.  20 years later, the commitment and dedication of Richmond Ermet AIDS foundation lives on providing hope and sustaining lives.


  • HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer.
  • AIDS  is one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges.
  • AIDS was first clinically observed in 1981 in the United States.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 36 million people have died since the first cases were reported in 1981.
  • There is still no known cure for AIDS.

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