SAN DIEGO – NOV. 2, 2017 – Mama’s Kitchen and Village Hillcrest will host the 26th annual Tree of Life Candlelight Vigil and Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 at 3965 Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest. The ceremony, sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and The Gay and Lesbian Fund for San Diego, is considered San Diego County’s premier event to commemorate World AIDS Day, and honors those affected by AIDS as well as recognizes the ongoing leadership efforts made to end the worldwide epidemic. The event is FREE and open to the public.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2017 is “Lets End It,” which speaks to ending isolation, ending stigma, and ending HIV transmission. The annual remembrance day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have been lost from the disease. In San Diego County, 480 people were diagnosed with HIV disease in 2014, or about one person every 18 hours, and 108 San Diego County residents died of AIDS complications, nearly one person every three days on average (KPBS).
Dr. Adam Zweig, Medical Director of AHF San Diego Healthcare Center reminds us HIV has not gone away and there are many things still to be done. “Tree of Life is San Diego’s annual event to reflect on our own and our loved ones’ experiences with HIV and AIDS. There are still 50,000 new HIV infections occurring each year in the U.S. — a number that has sadly remained static over the past decade — so World AIDS Day and Tree of Life offer an opportunity for us to reflect, redouble our efforts in prevention, care and treatment as well as to look optimistically to the future.”
At the annual Tree of Life event, a candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate those we have lost to AIDS. Delana Bennett, co-host of “Jesse Lozano in the Morning” on STAR 94.1, will serve as event emcee. Attendees will enjoy holiday tunes from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and complimentary refreshments will be served. More than 300 people are expected to attend.
“The Tree of Life Ceremony allows the San Diego community to gather together and remember those who are no longer with us,” said Alberto Cortés, executive director, Mama’s Kitchen. “Through this event we can also embrace and show support for members of our community confronted by the daily challenges of living with HIV.”
A large holiday tree will be decorated with ornaments honoring those who have been affected by HIV and will remain on display throughout the holiday season at Village Hillcrest. Ornaments can be purchased online at www.mamaskitchen.org prior to the event or that evening and personalized with a message. The cost is $15 each or two for $25.
All proceeds from the Tree of Life Ceremony benefit Mama’s Kitchen, San Diego’s only free county-wide meal delivery service for men, women and children affected by HIV or cancer. During the past 27 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served more than eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for our services. In Mama’s Kitchen’s fiscal year 2017 (ending June 30, 2017), the organization delivered 255,921 meals to 400 individuals affected by HIV, 61,857 meals to 186 individuals affected by cancer, including 43,968 meals to 112 children whose parents were affected by HIV or cancer.
Community sponsors are needed to support this event. For more information about Tree of Life or to participate in holiday giving opportunities, please call Ben Coyle at (619) 233-6262 or visit www.mamaskitchen.org.
About Mama’s Kitchen
Mama’s Kitchen was founded in 1990 when volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund discovered that many of their clients were becoming too ill to take care of themselves. They realized that a reliable home meal delivery service was needed to ensure that these individuals would continue to receive nutritious, life-sustaining food. In 2004, Mama’s Pantry was opened to provide individuals with HIV who are able to prepare meals the opportunity to supplement their nutritional needs.
During the past 27 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for our services. Our commitment to our clients remains unchanged and in May 2017 Mama’s Kitchen expanded its mission to serve San Diegans affected by HIV, cancer or other critical illnesses. Mama’s Kitchen currently provides delivered meals, pantry services and nutrition education services to over 1,200 men, women and children in San Diego County annually. Learn more and make a donation at www.mamaskitchen.org. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.