A Loving Spoonful – No One Living With HIV/AIDS Should Live With Hunger

Project Empty Bowl Makes HUGE Impact on Community Raising $130,000!

A Loving Spoonful, our neighbours on Powell Street in Vancouver, provides free meals to people living with HIV/AIDS. Its powerful and simple mission is: “To make sure that no one living with HIV/AIDS lives with hunger.”  This charitable organization pours love and support into the lives of people across BC, meeting the basic human need of nourishment, fulfilling its mission in its daily work.

A Loving Spoonful offices – The Flag Shop’s neighbours on Powell Street.

When A Loving Spoonful first contacted The Flag Shop President, Susan Braverman, last month, requesting a donation for their signature fundraising event, “Project Empty Bowl”, they couldn’t have known just how much personal meaning it would have for Susan. It was almost 20 years ago that she sang in the High Spirits Choir, and as it turns out, the choir’s first outreach performance was for none other than A Loving Spoonful! Remembering these moments fondly, Susan said, “It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since I first learned about A Loving Spoonful!” She added, “At the time, I realized this organization was among the first to step up to address the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS, caring for people, and giving them dignity and hope.” She added, “I still remember how it made me feel to hear the personal testimonials of hope that day.”

Custom painting by A Loving Spoonful supporter and celebrated Vancouver artist, John Ferrie, which commemorates the official name change from Vancouver Meals Society – displayed in the office lobby.

The team at A Loving Spoonful acknowledges and honours its invaluable team of caring and passionate volunteers, who are the heart and soul of the organization. It is through the joint efforts of its volunteers, donors, and supporters, together with the staff, that people in need find a sense of belonging – and become a part of a caring community. The organization provides meals, but it goes much deeper than that. It’s all about forging genuine and very personal connections with its clients. This helps them to provide the best possible service and support. While it’s important to be aware of critical details, such as dietary restrictions and allergies, over and above these things, the team is very intentional in creating a welcoming, happy, and respectful environment.

Elyse Freeborn and Claudia Healey of A Loving Spoonful going back to the office after selecting items to fill baskets with their favourite Pride products

Elyse Freeborn, Director of Development & Volunteer Services said, “That’s what we’re most proud of as an organization – every staff member, whether it be a program staff person, a dietician, our accountant, or our executive director, it doesn’t matter – we are all here to help our clients.“  She added, “If someone comes by for food, they are treated very respectfully, and if someone comes by just to chat, we stop what we’re doing and we chat with them. We know every single client we serve by name. I think these things are really important.”

A Loving Spoonful’s Executive Director, Lisa Martella with ceramic artist Matthew Freed, and a bowl given to a guest. – Source: vancouversun.com  MALCOLM PARRY / PNG

Last month, A Loving Spoonful held its “Project Empty Bowl” gala, which has been taking place since 1997. When guests arrive at this event, each one is gifted a handcrafted bowl made by a BC artist. Every bowl is donated and unique. Guests are served their meal in the bowl they’ve been given, reflecting the idea that no bowl should ever be empty. The bowls serve as keepsakes of the evening, and reminders of the impact each guest makes by attending the gala. The event includes a silent auction, and a live auction, with a professional auctioneer.

Handcrafted bowls made by local artists and given as gifts at the Project Empty Bowl Gala.

The Flag Shop was thrilled for the opportunity to support this fundraiser by donating two Pride gift baskets for the silent auction. All basket items were hand-picked by A Loving Spoonful and included everything from Pride stick flags, to silicone bracelets, flags, lanyards, crests, and decals. Susan Braverman said, “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to support them, and to contribute to their success, because this team of caring people changes lives and brings light and hope to so many!”

Pride gift baskets donated by The Flag Shop for silent auction.

With a fundraising goal of $125,000, and a per-meal cost of $3.55, this adds up to plenty of full bowls! And, what a thrill it was when we learned that this year’s gala exceeded its fundraising target, coming in at a whopping $130,000! On average, A Loving Spoonful provides 100,000 meals every year to those in need in our community, and this signature event makes it all possible. About this, Elyse said, “Providing food to individuals and families not only meets a basic human need, it opens opportunities to connect and reduce stresses in the lives of others. When stress is lifted, barriers start to fall away.” She added, “When the worry over your next meal goes away, this helps to create a more hopeful and positive outlook. And, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without our volunteers and donors! Making a positive impact on others, that’s where the reward is.”

Congratulations to A Loving Spoonful for pulling off an exceptional gala, which will help so many. We salute you for your caring commitment to the people of our community!

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