San Francisco, August 10 – At first glance, petite Ruth Brinker may have seemed an unlikely pioneer in the fight against HIV/AIDS. By the time she founded Project Open Hand in San Francisco in 1985, she was a retired grandma and widow with little money to spare. But she had a long career in the food service industry, a feisty nature and generous heart, and when her community was being ravaged in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, she knew exactly what she had to do.
“Ruth’s vision of delivering meals with love sparked an organization and a movement” said Chief Executive Officer Neil Giuliano. “Her legacy will live on not just in Project Open Hand, but in the hundreds of meal-delivery organizations worldwide that she inspired and the millions of people who have received food and love because of Ruth.”
Ruth was a modest visionary. When she personally delivered her first meals to seven home-bound San Franciscans with AIDS, no other social service agency was focused on home meal delivery. Today, Project Open Hand programs include: meal, grocery and nutrition information, education and referral for people with symptomatic HIV and AIDS; congregate lunch and nutrition education for people over 60 years of age; meal service for homebound critically ill people under the age of 60.
“Without Ruth, the San Francisco model of HIV/AIDS would not be what it is today,” said Giuliano. “She will be deeply missed by all of us at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and our hearts go out to her friends, family and all those she worked with at Project Open Hand over the many years.”
Project Open Hand Founder Ruth Brinker passed away peacefully at Eden Villa Assisted Living Center in San Francisco on August 8, 2011.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.
The best way to fight HIV is to know your status. A simple test can determine if you are infected with the virus.
Our diverse programs help thousands of people every year. From testing to prevention to care, our services assist communities where need is greatest.