Summer 2013

December 18, 2013


Just as we were optimistically observing that “only” nine of our residents died with us last fiscal year – reflective of a growing trend of residents improving under our care to the point of discharge back to independent living – two recent resident deaths in as many weeks reminds us that AIDS is still a brutal and heartless killer.

For those of us who have lived through this pandemic since its beginnings, these fleeting periods of hope followed by disappointment mirror the enthusiasm we used to experience each time a promising new antiviral treatment was announced, only to later fail to deliver on the hype.

Nonetheless, we are most definitely seeing more and more residents growing stronger and achieving medical stabilization at Maitri. This is why we chose “A New Dawn” as the theme for BLISS 2013 – our most successful BLISS to date – which is featured below in this newsletter.

As always, thank you for helping us give our respite residents a second chance at life and provide our hospice residents a peaceful home to spend their final months surrounded by loving and attentive staff and volunteers. We couldn’t do this without you!

Warm regards,

Michael Smithwick
Executive Director


New resident, Dan, sits on the patio taking in the décor, from the variety of plants and flowers, to the tranquil fountain and colorful retractable awning. “Maitri has always had a beautiful garden. ” Dan observes. “Having plants taught people how to care for something living, when all they saw around them was loss.”

Dan speaks from experience, as he was once a Maitri volunteer when the hospice was first opened on Hartford Street in 1987 by Issan Dorsey. Not only was Issan the founder of Maitri, he was also one of Dan’s close personal friends.

When Dan and his partner, Fred, moved to the City in the Eighties, “life just busted wide open”. There were so many things to experience and people to meet, but in the midst of a crisis, there was also much work to be done. At the hospice, “Things were not as organized as they are today… you just chipped in. If you saw something needed to be done, you did it!” Dan and Fred both volunteered at Maitri. In response to the losses due to AIDS, it was the only thing they felt they could do. “You wanted to give back.”

In addition to working together, Dan, Issan, and the other volunteers “formed a close-knit circle which volunteered, socialized, and sometimes got in trouble together,” Dan shares with a mischievous laugh. The social times provided
a break from the very difficult work of tending to the sick.

Charlie and Dan in 2009

“We didn’t know what to do, what to do with our friends, what to do with these kids in their twenties…?” Dan’s voice trails off as he looks down at his cup of ice. Dan often sits with his ice and a spoon, which he uses to keep his mouth cool and hydrated, as liquid intake is limited due to his daily dialysis treatments. “They’re men, but they’re just babies…”, young men just starting out, with very few material possessions. But what they had lost because of AIDS was so much greater. They lost many, if not all of their friends.”

Trying to get comfortable, he shifts in his chair. Sitting on the garden patio, Dan looks around at the foliage and candidly recalls, “Frankly, these young guys didn’t want to garden, they wanted to go out and party. Really and truly, they just wanted to escape reality.” As he remembers, people seemed to survive or thrive based on their attitude toward life.

Rather than be weighed down by somber topics, these days Dan seems given to finding the positive in every situation. When asked about his military service, he chooses to remember his favorite parts of the Pacific Rim: the miles and miles of pristine beaches by the crystal-clear waters. Even at Maitri, he focuses on the peacefulness of the residence.

Seated in the patio, Dan looks at the bubbling fountain and shares how grateful he is to be in “such a wonderful city in such a beautiful place with so many amazing people.” “My favorite thing about Maitri, though, and it is a very simple fact: Maitri is a sweet place to die.”

It is with great sadness that we report Dan passed away earlier this month – peacefully and while being comforted by Maitri’s dedicated nursing attendants and his best friend Sarah, with his beloved cat, Charlie by his side. Dan agreed to be interviewed for this article shortly after his admission to Maitri in early June.


Recently, the staff, volunteers, and residents of Maitri had the opportunity to visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center. Such outings provide the residents the opportunity to get out and be as active as possible, while forming stronger and more supportive relationships with one another. This positive focus helps break the monotony of convalescence as well.

Are you interested in volunteering with our residents? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Stan Stone at or 415-558-3000, ext. 104, to learn about upcoming opportunities at Maitri.


BLISS 2013

On Sunday, May 19, 2013, three hundred Maitri supporters and their guests gathered to celebrate BLISS 2013 at a new location, the Mission Bay Conference Center. Located on the newest campus of UCSF near AT&T Park, Mission Bay Conference Center generously donated the venue to Maitri for our use. This year’s theme, A New Dawn, was especially significant in that it recognized the increasing number of residents who have come to Maitri for help with medical stabilization in recent years. While we continue to honor those who have passed at Maitri – and always give priority in admissions to those in need of end-of-life or hospice care – we celebrate those residents who have regained enough of their health during their stay at Maitri to return to the community they love.

BLISS 2013 guests immersed themselves in the ambiance of the spacious and intimate surroundings of the venue while savoring delectable fare ranging from passed hors d’oeuvres of seared ahi tuna, smoked papaya chicken, and sweet onion tartlets to carving stations serving roasted pork tenderloin. Guests raved about the plentiful desserts (including scrumptious chocolate torte) and the abundant cocktails and libations while DJ Sysko kept the evening’s vibe upbeat.

A popular stop was the Magnolia Photo Booth where willing subjects had a hilarious time photographing themselves in fun costumes or with whimsical props. Nearby, the Ritual Room – where guests reflected on the reverence of Maitri’s mission – was an especially memorable feature of the venue. Another peaceful oasis was the Massage Room where volunteer masseurs and masseuses from the San Francisco School of Massage expertly soothed tired muscles in a calm and tranquil environment. The silent and live auctions offered a wide variety of donated artwork, gift certificates, and accessories to entice bidders who gave from their hearts in support of our organization.

The evening’s program was emceed by community leader, Gregg Cassin who personified the essence of Maitri with his warmth, humor, and spirit. Supervisor Scott Weiner presented a city proclamation and California Pacific Medical Center/Sutter Health’s Mary Lanier spoke of the relevance of Maitri. The program also featured auctioneer extraordinaire Lenny Broberg who encouraged donors to give over $20,000 in Fund-A-Need donations for new resident beds, special holiday meals, and other programs for Maitri residents. There were remarkably beautiful performances by Patrick Makuakane’s Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu dance company and longtime Maitri supporter, Spencer Day who stole many hearts that night. The evening’s entertainment concluded with none other than Mary Wilson of the Supremes, who brought her audience to their feet with a finale of “Stop In The Name of Love” backed-up by a chorus of over twenty “once-in-a-lifetime” singers comprised of Maitri volunteers, staff, family, and even a resident or two!

Maitri is grateful for the many sponsors, supporters, and friends who made BLISS 2013 our most successful ever, raising over $112,000 (net of all expenses) for our resident care program. Thank you!


After six years with Maitri’s Development team, we bid a fond farewell to Grant Sun who is moving to New England, and welcome Ross Hayduk as our new Development Manager. Ross comes to us with more than 12 years of fundraising experience in San Francisco, including his most prior position at the Academy of Friends as Manager of Operations and Development.

Ross also does volunteer fundraising work for the National AIDS Memorial Grove, Bridgemen, and the Positive Resource Center, and has been a frequent past volunteer for PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support), the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the STOP AIDS Project. He is an avid hiker who recently completed hiking the 2,084 mile Appalachian Trail in less than six months while raising over $6,000 for local HIV/AIDS service organizations. He currently serves our community as “Sister Jane D’oh!” with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and “Mr. April 2014” with AIDS Emergency Fund’s Bare Chest Calendar.

Originally from Virginia, Ross has lived in the Bay Area since 2000 and currently resides in the Bayview District with his five year-old Kelpie mix, Oscar. Be sure to stop by and introduce yourself to Ross the next time you visit Maitri.


A new wall sconce highlights our donor plaque.

Our entry staircase has a new feature – our new donor wall! Warmly lit, this impressive plaque lists the cumulative gifts of our major donors over the years, in levels ranging from $10,000 to $250,000 and above. We are so grateful for the generosity of our corporate, foundation, and individual donors in helping sustain Maitri Compassionate Care since 1987.



With the overwhelming response from attendees participating in the “Fund-A-Need” challenge at BLISS 2013, we were able to fulfill a wish of purchasing new beds for every resident room at Maitri. With the help of a reliable vendor, we were able to purchase and install the beds soon after the annual gala, much to the delight of our residents. Thank you to everyone who participated in this fundraising endeavor!

Our friends cheerfully deliver all new beds to Maitri.


A carefully configured bungee cords holds things together with Maitri’s oven door until we’re able to raise funds to purchase a replacement.

With decades of faithful service, providing three meals a day to our residents, our kitchen’s oven is in dire need of replacement. In fact, Maitri’s Food Services Director, Ann Kong, has let us know that the oven door is in danger of falling off. Specialized repair services to replace and install the door on this 40-year-old commercial-grade oven are prohibitive (it’s so old that the manufacturer no longer makes the parts), so we know we have no choice but to purchase a new stove. A working oven is, of course, an important necessity in order to continue providing hot, delicious, and nutritious meals for our residents on a daily basis. Would you be able to help us with a summertime gift to meet this challenge?

Are you interested in supporting our work by making a gift to Maitri? DONATE NOW or contact Ross Hayduk, Development Manager, at or by calling 415-558-3000, extension 103, to learn how you can help.

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