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    Rita Rockett, a Hero During the Darkest Days of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Welcomed Back to San Francisco

    Rita Rockett, fondly known as the “Brunch Goddess of Ward 5-A” for her work uplifting hospitalized HIV/AIDS patients during some of the darkest moments of the pandemic in the 1980s and 1990s, was welcomed back to San Francisco on March 8. On that evening, Gary Virginia and Deana Dawn co-hosted and co-produced Aloha Friday With Rita Rockett at 440 Castro. The event was a benefit for PRC’s Emergency Financial Assistance Fund.

    Photo by Rink

    Rockett, who now lives in Hawaii, was welcomed by Donna Sachet, First Lady of the Castro; PRC Executive Director Chuan Teng; and a host of friends and supporters. Rockett was remembered as someone who, for close to 15 years, hosted brunches every Sunday in the AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. Her story, as well as those of many other caregivers from that time, has been documented in news stories, interviews, and the award-winning documentaries We Were Here (2011) directed by David Weissman; and 5B directed by Paul Haggis and Dan Krauss.

    Photo by Rink

    Virginia after the event wrote, “It was great to see PRC’s CEO Chuan Teng participate & looking beautiful in Aloha attire, and former SF General Hospital staff who worked with Rita Rockett’s Sunday Brunches for PWA’s in Ward 5B for close to 15 years at the very start of the ARC/AIDS pandemic. And of course, huge ALOHA & LOVE to our fabulous guest of honor Rita Rockett who brought joy to many people at the event and all week during her visit from Oahu.”

    Photo by Rink

    He added, “The generous crowd & performers raised $700 in less than 15 minutes during the brief show, including five donations via Venmo. THANK YOU for your generosity! Funds raised will help low-income, local residents living with HIV/AIDS in need of financial support to prevent eviction or for help with housing, medical expenses, and/or utility bills.”

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    Published on March 21, 2024