Mama’s Kitchen and Village Hillcrest will host the 27th annual Tree of Life Candlelight Vigil and Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at 3965 Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest. The ceremony, sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is considered San Diego County’s premier event to commemorate World AIDS Day, and honor those affected by AIDS, as well as recognize the ongoing leadership efforts to end the worldwide epidemic. The candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate those we have lost to AIDS. The event is FREE and open to the public.
‘Rock The Ribbon’
The theme of World AIDS Day 2018 is “Rock the Ribbon,” which speaks to ending stigma and ending HIV transmission. Rocking a red ribbon on Dec. 1 shows support for people living with HIV and their families. The annual worldwide remembrance day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have lost their battle with 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 there is still plenty of work to do in the fight against HIV. “Mama’s Kitchen’s Tree of Life Ceremony is our city’s holiday tradition to remember those we’ve lost and those currently in the fight for their life with HIV.” There are still nearly 14,000 people living with HIV in San Diego County who face ignorance and discrimination daily, making it difficult for them to live comfortably. Now is the time to stand with those living with HIV and AIDS to help others understand their battle, and end new transmissions once and for all.”
“The Tree of Life Ceremony is like a family reunion,” said Alberto Cortés, executive director, Mama’s Kitchen. “The annual event gives everyone an opportunity to come together to celebrate those that are no longer with us, and spend time with friends in the community we don’t get to see year-round. Tree of Life provides San Diego families with an evening of memories, singing and sharing of stories to continue a longtime holiday tradition like no other that honors those affected by AIDS.”
Jodi Kodesh, San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus to participate in ‘Tree of Life’ 2018
San Diego’s favorite meteorologist, Jodi Kodesh, is this year’s 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. A large holiday tree will be decorated with ornaments honoring those who have been affected by HIV and AIDS, and will remain on display throughout the holiday season at Village Hillcrest. Ornaments can be purchased online at 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, cancer and other critical illnesses. For nearly 30 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for its services. 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. In Mama’s Kitchen’s fiscal year 2018 (ending June 30, 2018), the organization delivered 319,482 meals to 324 individuals affected by HIV, 173 individuals affected by cancer, and 103 children whose parents were affected by HIV or cancer. Mama’s Kitchen’s pantry program provided an additional 122,266 meal equivalents to 628 low income HIV positive residents.
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 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 28 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for its services. The organization’s commitment to its 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. As part of the expansion, Mama’s Kitchen now serves individuals affected by chronic heart failure and uncontrolled Type II diabetes. 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 mamaskitchen.org. Connect with Mama’s Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.