Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet
In 1995, two close friends who each lost her only son to AIDS, Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet, took action together for families and individuals suffering the same fate. Since both of their sons enjoyed theater, cabaret and the local entertainment scene, they conspired to produce a musical variety show and give the proceeds to local AIDS organizations. The first, entitled “Help is on the Way: San Francisco Cares!” on May 15, 1995, at The Palace of Fine Arts Theater, was a sell out. Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet are now deceased. Their legacy and that of their sons, John Richmond and Doug Ermet, continues through the Richmond Ermet Aid Foundation.
On August 21, 2016, REAF presented Help is on the Way XXII: On the Red Carpet, a benefit gala for Meals On Wheels of San Francisco and AIDS Legal Referral Panel. The 22nd annual concert at Herbst Theatre featured show-stopping performances from Broadway legends Donna McKecknie and Carole Cook. “American Idol” alums Constantine Maroulis, Kimberley Locke, La Toya London and Melinda Doolittle joined the show directed by David Galligan and Michael Orland.
Prior to the concert, event co-chairs Sophie Azouaou, Eileen Blum-Bourgade and Dr. Albert L. Chow, along with REAF Executive Director Ken Henderson, hosted a VIP dinner in the newly restored Green Room. Liam Mayclem served as master of ceremonies. Dinner guests watched performances from cast members of the Broadway hit “Beautiful,” met CEO of Earth Friendly Products Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, and Johnny Cloutman, a 9-year-old with an inspirational message of love, respect and tolerance. For dessert, designer Anna Cecilia Ortega presented a mini-fashion show.
Scenes from Help is on the Way XXII: On the Red Carpet:
American Idols Constantine Maroulis and Kimberly Locke
Ken Henderson, Eileen Blum-Bourgade, Sophie Azouaou and Dr. Albert L. Chow
Gown by Anna Cecilia Ortega
Robert Richard, LaTonya Lawson, Beth Schnitzer, Teresa Rodriguez
Josette Vigil Jelveh, Peruz Jelveh, Hermine Mnatsakanian
Sophie Azouaou, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, Willie Brown, Vivian Panou
Photos by Drew Altizer Photography