In everything we do, we are dedicated to the elimination of, and suffering from, HIV and AIDS.
About Aunt Rita’s
Aunt Rita’s Humble Beginnings
Aunt Rita’s Foundation has been pursuing since 2005 its mission to end HIV in Arizona, but has a rich history dating back to the 1980’s. In 1986 three individuals, Randy Schrock, Gary Mangum and Skip O’Neill, founded Aunt Rita’s Foundation in the beginning years of the epidemic. They saw at the beginning of the epidemic a lack of resources for their friends and family dying from AIDS and recognized something needed to be done. These three friends set on a humble quest to raise money in annual bake sales to provide relief for those living with, and dying from, AIDS. When federal government assistance through the Ryan White Care Act began in the early 1990’s, funding became more plentiful and the need for Aunt Rita’s Foundation waned. The final bake sale of the original Aunt Rita’s Foundation was held in 1996. In 2005, passionate community members revived Aunt Rita’s Foundation with the purpose of bringing back AIDS Walk Arizona, which had ended a few years prior. This began the new chapter of Aunt Rita’s Foundation’s programs and initiatives.
The Current Aunt Rita’s
Aunt Rita’s Foundation is dedicated to the elimination of, and suffering from, HIV and AIDS. With our basic principle of “By the Community and For the Community” we collaborate with all Arizona HIV Service Organizations philanthropically supporting their critical services while forging unique partnerships at state and local governments, as well as private corporations. Aunt Rita’s Foundation has provided more than $2,100,000 in grant funding in support of critical HIV prevention and treatment programs throughout Arizona.
Aunt Rita’s Foundation was a founding member with the City of Phoenix Fast Track Cities initiative and plays a vital role in advocating at the Arizona legislature and State Government to establish laws, regulations, and policies that further our efforts to educate, prevent HIV, and treat HIV.
With the launch of HIVAZ.org and VIHAZ.org in 2014, Aunt Rita’s Foundation commenced its own HIV education, outreach, testing and advocacy initiatives to fill in the service gaps not provided by other organizations. Today we offer unique HIV testing initiatives that provide free home HIV test kits and vouchers throughout Arizona. Aunt Rita’s Foundation innovative programs have helped all Arizonans know their status, along with supporting them in the prevention and/or treatment care they need.
Our core beliefs & most important values
To be the catalyst of HIV/AIDS awareness, education and support.
Accountability, Integrity, Inclusiveness, Diversity, Collaboration, and Passion.
Funding & Prevention
Aunt Rita’s Foundation doesn’t only focus their activities on fundraising and funding. HIVAZ Connect (previously Project HIVAZ) was formed to promote HIV testing and engage Arizonans in HIV awareness and prevention. A key goal of HIVAZ Connect campaigns is to help eliminate the stigma of HIV and AIDS to enable honest discussions about HIV risk and transmission. In 2019 there were 776 new infections in Arizona, 521 of them being in Maricopa County. Arizona’s ethnic minority populations are most at risk for new infections; 577 (74.4%) of newly diagnosed individuals identified as white or Hispanic. While fewer newly diagnosed individuals identified as black, though the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in black individuals was the highest at 36.5 per 100,000.
Aunt Rita’s is a proud member of Arizona’s network of the HIV/AIDS service and charitable community, providing annual funding between $100,000 and $200,000 to local non-profits.
The large events sponsored by Aunt Rita’s also brings community together and helps to raise awareness about the ongoing epidemic. Aunt Rita’s impact in our community is far more significant than just fundraising.
Aunt Rita’s Foundation provides the compassion many people need, and gives people suffering from HIV/AIDS and their families something priceless – hope.
Check out our board of directors
Vice-Chair: Haley Coles, Sonoran Prevention Works
Chair: Linda Watt, 850zip
Treasurer: Tom Bogardus
Secretary: Guillermo Velez, Banner Health
Sam Bowers, Spectrum Medical
Kelley Densham, Charles Schwab
Amy Edmonds, Bill Holt Clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Barbara Garden, Terros Health
Dr. Brian Koeneman, Sonora Quest Laboratories
Duvia Lozano, Chicanos Por La Causa
Becky Lutz, CAN Community Health & Southwest Center
Jalpa Patel-Kar, Walgreens
John Phebus, Law Offices of John Phebus