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One Meal at a Time

Tags: Awards for Excellence

Melanie DeHerrera

Imagine you are in a boxing ring, going blow to blow with the toughest opponent you will ever face. This opponent has drained you physically, emotionally, and financially, and shows no signs of slowing down. The bell dings momentarily and you head to your corner for some much needed fuel and focus. You are strong-willed, have a good doctor, and even a cheering section, yet something is still missing. For those fighting life-threatening illness, this missing component is often something we take for granted:

Nutritious food.

Unfortunately, folks living with life-threatening illnesses are often homebound and cannot afford, prepare, or acquire nutritious meals. The health status and quality of life of these individuals would be lessened if not for the caring staff and volunteers at Project Angel Heart. In 2011, Project Angel Heart’s professional chefs whipped up over 427,000 meals for over 1,800 clients, many of whom need specially prepared meals.

Founded in 1991, Project Angel Heart provides free, home-delivered meals to folks with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, COPD, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes. In 2005, the organization expanded its reach to include Colorado Springs, as well as Denver area residents.

To help support the expansion, El Pomar’s Ackerman Fund provided $15,000 in 2011 to help serve 70,000 meals to 312 people in El Paso County – including Veronica.

A nine-year battle with breast cancer and no daily support at home left 37 year-old Veronica feeling exhausted and in a rut with her current diet. When Project Angel Heart entered her life, a weight was lifted off her and her family. Volunteers personally delivered nutritious and tasty meals to Veronica’s door. The impact on her life was huge - “it makes me feel better,” she said.

Through partnerships with local organizations such as Care and Share and Silver Key, Project Angel Heart is able to have a major impact in Colorado Springs without duplicating existing services. Efficiency is key as the organization is able to provide individually packed and personalized meals for under $4.50 (Much less than my morning frappuccino and blueberry muffin).

Today, Project Angel Heart is in a new facility and ready to tackle unmet needs. As I write, there are 33 folks on the waitlist in Colorado Springs. With the increased capacity (and a few more local volunteer drivers), Project Angel Heart will be able to provide these folks with the sustenance they need to keep on fighting…one meal at a time.

Next month marks the 10th anniversary of Project Angel Heart joining the ranks of “excellent” organizations. As a 2002 Awards for Excellence recipient, the organization has lived up to its mission of providing nutritious meals at no cost to individuals with life-threatening illnesses.