Compassion and Fashion at Neiman Marcus

Carmen Marc Valvo and Charlotte Jude

Maitri recently held its 23rd Annual Gala and Auction fundraiser “BLISS 2010” at the prestigious Golden Gate Club located in the Presidio.

“Maitri,” pronounced “MY-tree,” is a Sanskrit word that means “compassionate friendship.” Since 1987, Maitri has been providing hospice and 24-hour care to men and women living with AIDS. The organization’s mission is to provide the type of care each person would like to receive at the end of their lives – care that is dignified, non-judgmental, unconditional. Notably, Maitri is the only AIDS-specific residential care facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.

At the height of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s, San Francisco had five AIDS hospices. Now, only Maitri remains and – with only 15 beds – there is a constant waiting list. BLISS 2010 helped raise essential funds for Maitri’s program of compassionate care to people living with late-stage AIDS.

The yearly event is a wonderful gathering of Maitri’s friends and supporters, and past participants included the late Allen Ginsberg, as well as Third Eye Blind frontman and Bay Area native Stephan Jenkins. This year’s Gala featured actress and comedienne Sandra Bernhard, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and celebrity designer Carmen Marc Valvo.

Carmen Marc Valvo (seated) with Jimmy Markee, Joel Goodrich and Thomas Farrell

Carmen Marc Valvo, John Capizzi of Neiman Marcus, Karen Tamblyn, Christian Knaust

As a special Maitri kickoff and honoring of Cameron Marc Valvo, Joel Goodrich of TRI Coldwell Banker & Damion Matthews of San Francisco Luxury Living (and an Haute Living contributor) hosted an elegant Sunday afternoon luncheon for 60 friends and supporters at Neiman Marcus just prior to the Bliss 2010 Gala, several of whom traveled from New York to pay respect to Maitri’s ongoing legacy of care. Carmen was joined by his longtime partner of twenty years Christian Knaust and entrepreneur Jimmy Markee, among others.

Joel Goodrich, Afsaneh Akhtari, Carmen Marc Valvo

Isha Abdullah and Carmen Marc Valvo

Carmen began his professional career as ready-to-wear designer for Nina Ricci in Paris, and later spent time at Christian Dior. In 1989 he launched his own label, putting together a collection to show at the fall market in New York with only a few thousand dollars. His sportswear was a success among department stores, but his evening wear sparked interest in buyers at Saks and Neimans, two stores at which he regularly sells today.

In response to demand from celebrity and VIP clientele, Valvo launched his Couture collection in 1998. Carmen is involved with many charitable organizations, but until recently has given most of his time to promoting awareness and encouraging the discussion of colorectal cancer, as he is a survivor himself.

Mireille Schwartz and Damion Matthews

Joy Bianchi and Ricky Serbin

Arsen Ari Kalfayan, Jenna Liddell Hunt and Christopher Beaucage

Justin Fichelson, Marcy Carmack, Ye-Hui Lu, Samantha Chandler, Kevin Whittaker

Jorge Maumer, Beth Schnitzer, Maria Barrios Ehmer and SpritzPR’s Raghu Shivaram

Claudia Juestel, Victoria Yeager Sawyer, Afsaneh Akhtari

Brenda Zarate of Christian Dior

Maria Ehmer, Melodie Johnson, Jeannie Taylor

Neiman Marcus’s Ye-Hui Lu and John Capizzi with Elisabeth Laurence of TV’s Lives of Style

Joel Goodrich and Isha Abdullah

Designer Lisa Alexander and stylist Marcy Carmack

Damion Matthews and designer Rosalina Lydster

John Capizzi and Jenna Liddell Hunt

Linda Cannon and Gail Glasser

Mark Calvano, Roberta Sherman and Heide Betz

Mark Calvano, Natalia Urrutia and Damion Matthews

Joel Goodrich and ABC 7’s Audrey Mansfield

Victoria Yeager Sawyer, Jorge Maumer and Patricia Sprincin

Jimmy Markee and Eli Zepeda

Moanalani Jeffrey and Mark Rhoades

Heide Betz, Joel Goodrich and Robin Collins

Maitri would not be able to operate successfully without volunteer support. Volunteers embody the spirit of generosity and compassionate friendship, and are integrally woven into the fabric of everyday life at Maitri. For further information on the wide range of volunteer opportunities please check out the website at or contact Jim Piechota at (415) 558-3011.