Parachute Fund

September 15, 2015

After months of thoughtful conversations, the Parachute Fund committee have determined that the fund has fulfilled its intended purpose and it is, therefore, time to sunset the fund. This comes with great joy in knowing how many individuals have been fortified by the fund and also, with sadness in remembering this challenging period that saw the loss of so many in the dance community.

Since its inception in 1987, the Parachute Fund has distributed over $100,000 to those in need. There have been numerous generous supporters of the Fund over the years, and the Fund’s committee wants to reiterate their thanks to those individuals for contributing to what was a tremendous outpouring of support for members of the Bay Area dance community facing HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses.

This kind support has helped dancers pay for a host of important essentials, like rent, medical bills, alternative health care treatments as well as the ability to support quality of life activities, like dance classes, buying a bicycle, or covering travel costs to visit family. The Parachute Fund directly and confidentially supported members of the dance community to be able to continue participating as artists in Bay Area life, even in the face of truly terrifying and, at the time, terminal diagnosis.

Much has changed since the mid 1980’s. The onslaught of the AIDS pandemic infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, does not mean a death sentence anymore. In fact, most HIV positive people today who have access to modern medication are expected to live a normal lifespan. This amazing change over the last 30 years has been supported by countless individuals and organizations, each working in myriad ways to make this day a reality.

It is our hope that one day, there will be no need for AIDS funding, a day when the life-changing threat of this illness will be a thing of the past. That day is not yet here, and we know that you will join us in continuing to support those organizations in pursuit of a cure, as well as those that continue to support people in need. The AIDS Emergency Fund continues its fine work, as does the SF AIDS Foundation.

The variety of support services, including the Parachute Fund, and the untold time provided by loving caregivers, had a profound impact on so many lives. Not only did people live longer, they lived with grace and dignity touched by the generosity of their own community.

As we look back and remember our lost friends, colleagues and loved ones, we can take comfort in knowing the Parachute Fund played an important part towards ensuring that a grant would make an impact in a very unique way to that person.

The following poem found among the possessions of choreographer Joah Lowe, who died of AIDS, was the inspiration for the fund’s name and continues to resonate.

When you try at the rip cord
And the parachute does not open
And there beneath you lie endless forests
And it is plain that you will not be saved
And there is no longer anything to cling to
No longer anyone to be met on the way
Spread your arms softly, like a bird
And enfolding space, fly.
There is no way back, no time to go balmy
And only one solution: the simplest
For the first time to compose yourself
And to fall with the universal void in your embrace.
-Yevgeny Vinokurov

The final grant was distributed in August 2015, so please join us in celebrating a job well done by our community.

In deep gratitude,

The Parachute Fund Committee: Joe Goode, David Lincoln King, Mercy Sidbury and Wayne Hazzard