City’s Human Rights Commission to honor several notable people working to improve their neighbors’ lives

Six individuals and one organization will be honored for work on human rights, social  progress, better standards of life, and equality.
Among those being honored with a Community Service Award this year are (clockwise from left) Jase Nagaia, the local PFLAG organization, Brett Klein, Dan Gore, and the founder of Desert Winds Freedom Band, Gary Moline.

The city’s Human Rights Commission will hold its annual Community Service Awards ceremony on Feb. 13., recognizing six people and one organization that made the greater Palm Springs area a better place last year.

Those being singled out for “outstanding contributions promoting and protecting human rights, social  progress, better standards of life, and equality for all individuals” include:

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  • Bettye Cotton, who will be recognized for her 20 years volunteering as a “greeter” for the American Legion, where she welcomes active-duty military members and veterans with “kindness, grace, humor, and love.” Beyond that, she provides information on valuable social services for that community. 

  • Tori St. Johns, who has spent three decades advocating for LGBTQ+ youth. At Desert Sands Unified School District, she has been involved in the formation and activities of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs at five high schools.

  • Dan Gore, the owner of Oscar’s Palm Springs, will be recognized for spending the last seven holiday seasons hosting a Christmas Cheer feast that serves about 100 free breakfasts on Christmas morning to anyone experiencing housing and food insecurity. 

  • Jase Nagaia, who earned his fitness professional certification during the pandemic because he saw the impact of Covid on communities of color living with health disparities. That lead him to found Endeavor to provide free low-impact fitness courses in Demuth Park. His welcoming environment is a product of his mission to provide a no-judgment fitness environment for people of any age, body type, fitness level, gender identity, or ethnicity. 

  • Brett Klein, who has devoted much of his life to activism and fundraising for charities related to people impacted by HIV. He was the president of the HIV + Aging Research  Project – Palm Springs (HARP-PS) and served on the board of Dining Out for Life International, a fundraising effort for people living with or impacted by HIV. In addition to all of that, he is also active in the pursuit of safer biking in the city. 

  • Gary Moline formed the Palm Springs Desert Winds Freedom band after discovering the city had a Gay Men’s Chorus but no Gay Band. The band quickly grew from eight musicians to 25 through Moline’s diligent efforts in flyering and talking to the community. 

The one organization being honored, PFLAG Palm Springs/Desert Communities, was founded in 1991 by George and Jacquie Spencer, who wanted people to unlearn homophobia. It’s the first and largest organization that is dedicated to educating and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families. 

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way.

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