Project Chicken Soup
BCC’s History with Project Chicken Soup:
The first cases of gay men dying from immune system disorders were published on June 5, 1981. It wasn’t until more than a year later, on September 24, 1982, that the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome was coined by the Centers for Disease Control. Los Angeles, one of the three major epicenters in the U.S, and BCC had its share of funerals, memorial services and grief which in those years had become commonplace.
The U.S. government did little to address the epidemic, leaving the gay community to fend for itself. Through our tragic losses, we created the richest, deepest sense of togetherness imaginable. A number of physicians, including members of BCC that were doctors, became activists to advocate for research and treatment while desperately trying to save their patients’ lives. The spiritual and social services communities also came through, offering everything from spiritual retreats, support groups, and free psychotherapy to food pantries and free health care.
In 1987 BCC inaugurated its monthly dinners, bringing Persons with AIDS (PWA) and their partners together with BCC members and clergy for a free meal with conversation and support. A number of BCC members also participated in SHALOM brunches (Synagogue Hospital AIDS Loving Outreach Meals). These programs continued for several years until new medications made AIDS a more manageable chronic disease.
BCC also sought to engage the wider Jewish community in responding to the crisis. With a $13,800 grant from the Jewish Federation’s Council on Jewish Life, BCC’s Clergy and members founded Nechama in 1986. Nechama (“Comfort”) sought to educate the Jewish community about the AIDS epidemic by training volunteers to speak to synagogues and other Jewish groups about AIDS from a Jewish perspective.
Nechama later became part of Jewish Family Service, where BCC members, served as its first Directors. Later renamed Los Angeles Jewish AIDS Services (LAJAS), it survived in the form of Project Chicken Soup (PCS), which specialized in providing kosher meals twice a month to persons with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Los Angeles area. BCC members volunteered to cook and deliver food for PCS.
Today, Project Chicken Soup is a self sustaining, independent non-profit organization. It continues to bring home-made comfort to home-bound clients. Project Chicken Soup serves approximately 125 clients 10 kosher meals twice a month for a total of 30,000 meals a year. The clientele is comprised of people (not necessarily Jewish) with HIV/AIDS/cancer or other serious illnesses that preclude them from cooking nutritious, kosher meals at home.
Through their leadership, delicious cooking and homey deliveries to clients, BCC members continue to volunteer at Project Chicken Soup to this date.
To volunteer please RSVP to Project Chicken Soup at (310) 836-5402 or by e-mail.
For more information about Project Chicken Soup, please visit their website at www.projectchickensoup.org.