$20,000 Grant Helps Boston Provider
By Andy Smith
organizations feeding people with AIDS began informally – with friends
preparing and delivering meals to small groups in their communities –
then gradually evolved into larger, more structured nonprofits.
in the late 1980s, when Boston’s civic leaders saw the devastation AIDS
was causing in their community, the American Jewish Congress assembled
70 individuals from varied backgrounds (activists, doctors, restaurant
owners, etc.) and spent several months developing Community Servings, which began to feed homebound Bostonians with HIV/AIDS as a full-fledged organization in January1990.
founders thought the community wasn’t doing enough and asked ‘How can
we address this?”’ says Tim Leahy, Community Servings’ development
director. “We started by delivering meals to a handful of people twice
a week.” In 2000, deliveries expanded to include enough food for lunch,
dinner and a snack.
Today, this godsend to the
homebound has more than 800 volunteers, a staff of 27, a full-time
dietician, and provides more than 650 meals each day in 15 communities
in and around Boston. And, with strong fundraising initiatives and the
help of a $20,000 grant from BC/EFA, it’s been able to begin offering
special meals for the children of clients and expand its geographic
area, as well.
Leahy is especially proud of
Community Servings’ work in the struggling town of Brockton, 20 miles
south of Boston. “We started serving there this year and it’s already
the fourth largest of the 15 communities we serve.”
2004, Community Servings’ board launched a pilot program offering meals
to people without HIV, but homebound with MS, breast cancer, diabetes,
lupus, Lou Gehrig's disease and other life-threatening illnesses. The
initiative started slow, but gradually picked up steam as publicity
efforts and word-of-mouth began reaching homebound Bostonians living
with these diseases.
“Today, about 22% of our meals are delivered to people without HIV,” Leahy says.
The Fight for Funding
so many organizations, Community Servings has felt the impact of
shrinking State and Federal Ryan White Program funding. “Combined,
these two areas have gone down about 20% from a couple of years ago,”
Leahy says, adding, “The news from Washington is scary.”
Fortunately, LiveSavor and Pie in the Sky
– two fundraising initiatives launched 14 years ago – continue to bring
in over $800,000 each year for Community Servings. LifeSavoris
a prestige event that begins with a cocktail party for several hundred
donors at a Boston hotel and then spreads out, with 90 different
restaurants each seating groups of 10. Each October, more than 150 area
restaurants donate pies of all varieties to Pie in the Sky, an enormous
Bake Sale that saves a lot of cooks grief each Thanksgiving Season as
they prepare for family gatherings. It even features a website: www.pieinthesky.org.
events are very successful, but (because they’re older) they don’t grow
much anymore,” Leahy says. “So this larger grant from BC/EFA lets us
reach out and serve more people.”
Like so many food
providers, Community Servings has outgrown its current location (“our
facility now is incredibly overcrowded”) and hopes to relocate during
the next few years. “We need more kitchen space and a building that’s
more ‘volunteer friendly,”’ Leahy explains.