Darrell Tucci moved to Palm Springs nine years ago to become the chief development officer for the Desert AIDS Project, now called DAP Health.
In the intervening years, not only has Tucci helped DAP Health expand to serve more Coachella Valley residents; Tucci himself has made a significant mark on the community, earning accolades including being one of Palm Springs Life’s 40 Under Forty; the 2015 State Farm Good Neighbor Award from Equality California; and being named one of Desert Charity News’ men of philanthropy. I should also disclose that he’s become a close friend of mine, and is a Supporter of the Independent.
Tomorrow is his last day with DAP Health; he’s leaving to become the vice president of development for the Movement Voter Project. He asked if the Independent would publish his farewell letter to the community … and here it is. —Jimmy Boegle
Dear Greater Palm Springs Community,
Nine years ago this month, I moved to Palm Springs and joined Desert AIDS Project as the new chief development officer. I walked in wide-eyed, ready for a new adventure, feeling I had been called to service. I felt I was honoring the legacy of both my childhood friend Leon, and my maternal grandfather—each lost to AIDS in the early ’90s.
Never did I imagine I would be in that role for nine years. After all, development professionals, on average, last two to three years in a position.
Never did I imagine I would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of truly lovely, compassionate, generous people.
Never did I imagine that my colleagues and board members would become like an extended family.
Never did I imagine that Desert AIDS Project, now DAP Health, would be a never-ending source of inspiration—never remaining idle, constantly innovating and finding ways to care for more people in need. DAP now serves 8,000 more people each year than when I started nine years ago.
Never did I imagine that I would feel the love of a community both personally and professionally—a community that trusted me with their charitable investments and one that stood by my side and supported me through spinal surgery.
Never did I imagine I would receive accolades for doing what I have always loved—connecting generous people to investing in life-changing, community-shaping work. My team and colleagues really deserve these accolades. I am so grateful to all of them.
Never did I imagine there would be another opportunity that would call me away from this work. DAP Health’s work continues to inspire me today. In fact, it inspires me more today than nine years ago. However, despite my devotion to HIV/AIDS work and providing health care for low-income people (healthcare is a human right), I also have a broader passion for an equitable and just society for all—especially marginalized people.
I cannot fight the urge to help protect and advance our democracy while working to dismantle systems of bigotry, homophobia, institutionalized racism and countless other injustices. My new role as vice president of development at the Movement Voter Project will give me the opportunity to do just that.
It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be of service to DAP Health and the Coachella Valley for the last nine years. My heart is full of gratitude.
To those who donated $5, $3 million, or any amount in between, thank you!
To those of you who donated one hour or 1,000 hours, thank you!
To those who worked side by side with me on staff or on the board, thank you!!
And, to my chosen family (you know who you are), thank you for being so generous in supporting my passions and for ALWAYS having my back!
As a development professional, I ask for things for a living, and before I go, I have one more ask: Please continue to support DAP Health, its staff and its 10,000-plus patients. Please give of your time, your talent and your resources. Do so generously. I will join you in continuing to do so personally. Together we will ensure that the amazing safety net—upon which thousands of people rely—remains strong and continues to grow.
Since I developed so many friendships in the desert, and I only live two hours away, I’ll be around frequently. So, this is not a farewell; instead, I’ll see you soon! …
With an overflowing heart, thank you.