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Mama's Kitchen to celebrate 20th year with Great Gatsby brunch on Sept. 12

SAN DIEGO -- It’s hard to believe Mama’s Kitchen is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!

I am so proud of the truly life altering work that has been accomplished by Mama’s Kitchen. Since our inception in 1990, we have prepared and delivered more than 5 million meals to men, women and children living with AIDS/HIV or cancer.

A small group of thoughtful individuals’ actions back in the fall of 1990 are the reason Mama’s Kitchen exists today. Volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund realized that there were countless individuals living with AIDS who simply were unable to provide themselves with sufficient nutrients because of their deteriorating health.

By the end of 1990, Mama’s Kitchen was delivering meals to 26 clients through the efforts of only a few dozen volunteers and three delivery routes. Since then, nearly 4,000 individual volunteers have sacrificed their time, and in many cases their own gas money, to serve more than 3,300 San Diegans in need.

Eventually we moved into the basement of a church near downtown where we’ve been located for the last 16 years. Today we have 30 delivery routes throughout the entire county, a pantry that serves 400 individuals every month and a team of nearly 700 volunteers.

Since Mama’s Kitchen is so intimately involved with its client base, it hasn’t been too difficult to keep our services relevant to the needs of our clients over the years.

As the AIDS epidemic has shifted, we’ve changed as well. With advancement in medicine, our client base has declined some over the year, which has allowed us to stop and consider our options. Instead of shrinking the organization as our client base shrunk, we decided to expand our services to include other populations of individuals living with critical illnesses, specifically cancer.

My goal, as the organization has grown, has always been to keep it as focused and organized as possible. Mama’s Kitchen is representative of what can be accomplished when a dedicated group of people come together with a common goal. At the end of each day, I will look at the empty tables where all of the day’s food had been just moments before, and think to myself, another miracle happened today!

For our 20th anniversary, Mama’s Kitchen is hosting an elegant “Great Gatsby! Mama Turns 20!” garden brunch at a private estate in Marston Hills on Sunday, Sept. 12, where we will celebrate and honor the many people who have dedicated so much to the organization over the years. This is also an opportunity to efficiently narrow in on what we’ve learned as an organization over the years to help define our path for many years to come.

For more information on the brunch, including ticket sales, visit www.mamaskitchen.org or call (619) 233-6262.