This morning my friend Caroline suggested I join her at Project Angel Food's volunteer training. (I love my friends.) An hour and a half flew by with volunteer manager Vesna's entertaining presentation about the do's and don'ts of food delivery, kitchen etiquette, their mission, confidentiality and compassion.
The mission of Project Angel Food (PAF) is clear and simple, to nourish the body and spirit of women, men and children affected by AIDS/HIV, cancers and other life-threatening illnesses. Started by Marianne Williamson in 1989, PAF first focused on those suffering from HIV/AIDS, as the disease still held a stigma about it, and those diagnosed were often deserted by their families and ostracized by the community, and medicines were not yet readily available. It has since expanded into an organization that serves meals to anyone who has trouble feeding themselves because of illness, serving approximately 1600 meals per day. The meals are lovingly created by chefs and volunteers in the PAF kitchen, designed to be beautiful and thus tempting to someone who may not feel up to eating, and nutritious (they have 19 meals based on specific needs, from vegetarian to low sodium or low sugar).
It's easy to volunteer. Even if you don't have a lot of time, you don't have to commit to serve on a regular basis. There are options from delivering meals (between noon and 3 p.m.), staffing special projects and events (spend your summer Tuesday nights at Hollywood & Highland - $10 for a glass of wine, cheese plate and KJAZZ music), office work, or helping in the kitchen. The kitchen work, while requiring a hair net and plastic gloves, can be a great way to learn more about food prep and cooking, although they STRONGLY discourage you from adding your own special touch to the tried and true recipes (see video).
While performed by PAF volunteers and staff, the song in this video was written by film composer Marc Shaiman, known for his work including "A Few Good Men," "Patch Adams" and the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, as well as the hilaaaarious, star-studded "Prop 8: The Musical." The fact that he composed this song for Project Angel Food is befitting for a Los Angeles-based non-profit.
Check back for updates as I join my friend volunteering. I'm car-free, so I'll be the passenger, fellow meal-deliverer, and we plan to try on those kitchen hair nets sometime soon. Share the love!