Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Maitri Bliss: Compassionate Care Benefit in the Woods

Maitri hospice celebrated their 8th Bliss party and 22nd year as a model for compassionate care for HIV/AIDS patients at San Francisco’s historic Golden Gate Club in the Presidio on May 3, 2009. The earthy scent of eucalyptus groves surrounded the stylish setting for the event, and it was the site of the signing of the U.S. and Japan 1951 security treaty that instituted an alliance of friendship and peace in the Pacific. Bliss is known for its terrific cause, fine wines and cocktails, excellent cuisine, and spectacular entertainment. This year topped all the others and it drew a huge crowd of supporters into the well-preserved former military base.

Maitri is dedicated to the belief of its founder Issan Dorsey: that no one should suffer and die alone. The hospice is well known as an ideal resting place for those who at the later moments of their life. It is located near the corner of Church Street and Duboce Avenue, and it is a well-designed and comfortable mecca for clients and visitors. Caregivers and residents receive respect and caring that is dignified and follows personal choices. Unconditional love is a goal for employees, board members, and volunteers, with the belief that those who serve also receive a gift of caring.

The event began when Jana Drakka led a ritual procession of Issan’s Monks through the club porch for a blessing. The women of Heiwa Taiko sent rhythmic sound waves through the party and set the pace for the continuous array of tastes and sights.

The fashion highlight was cultural icon Juanita More in shimmering gold and ultra chic 60’s wig and makeup. Miss More brought three provocative Moreboys along to suggest tunes for her Beauty Bar DJ’ing endeavor. Elevations Salon sent a squad of talented artists to makeover women and men, and across the room massages were being applied. A woman was moving her elbows into a man’s back, and surprise — the man looked up and it was San Francisco City Supervisor Bevan Dufty with a satisfied expression on his face. Couples lounged on white Barcelona couches and rotated to a table where they could write messages to hospice clients on leaves and hang the leaves on a naturalist shrine.

A unique tea ceremony by Soko Omachi featured an interpreter who explained the tea preparation and the Japanese treats to a roomful of curious guests. Throbbing drums led the audience into a presentation of the Manuia Polynesian Review, with its gyrating dancers and South Seas tunes.

Executive Director Tim Patriarca greeted the guests and thanked them for supporting Maitri. Then he welcomed California State Senator Mark Leno to the stage, where a state proclamation was presented. Senator Leno praised Maitri and thanked them for their good work.

Event co-chairs Alan Ratliff and Georgia Fuller then introduced musician Joey Altman, who coordinated a wildly successful live auction of a week in Hawaii and in Paris, with the motivation that the bidding will help Maitri thrive. Gold donor Erich Pearson joined San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros to welcome Maitri Treasurer Walter Parsley and MUMC President Steve Adams to the festivities.

The stage finale starred San Francisco’s premiere singer Paula West, who joined Joey Altman’s Back Burner Blues Band in an sublime “Fly Me to the Moon” as some guests danced, and others joyously gathered up their silent auction prizes.

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