I've volunteered in the kitchen here for 4 years. Their mission to feed the sick is what got me involved initially. But what I like most about POH now as a volunteer/donor is that they make the most out of their resources. Nothing seems to go to waste (every stem, peel, or core of a vegetable ends up in a dish, in stock, or used to make compost), and they keep us volunteers busy with meaningful work (if they hadn't, I wouldn't have gotten up and hauled myself in there every Saturday morning for 4 years). I feel good that my time and donations are being used to their fullest.
I volunteered with Project Open Hand weekly for a year and a half. Those shifts, mainly in the kitchen, but a few in the grocery, are among the most satisfying experiences of my life. The dedication to helping the community by providing meals with with love is inspiring and not just a tag line. I can’t tell you how many times I saw Chef Adrian and the team correct someone’s slicing/chopping technique or stop the packaging process to ensure that the meals were as beautifully presented as they were prepared. I cherish the contribution I was allowed to make at POH and miss the team.
I have been a volunteer at POH for 21 years. I came in to work off a ticket. It was the perfect match for me and I never left. Feeding sick folks and seniors. Those are my people. I have met some amazing folks, both volunteers and staff. I feel respected and appreciated. We really are making food with love.
I have volunteered here for over 28 years, and I truly love this organization. It truly serves meals with love: high-quality, nutritious meals, prepared by talented and dedicated chefs. It began serving a community who was marginalized by society, and has never lost its heart. I am so glad to be a small part of what they do. And they are exceedingly good to and express their gratitude to their volunteers, which is why so many of us we continue volunteering year after year.
Project Open Hand truly is an institution that takes care of people in need of nourishing food. In the four years that I’ve been volunteering, I’ve served seniors and military veterans. I even have a friend who used POH service when he went on surgery.
I cut and prepped food in the kitchen along with other awesome volunteers. With the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in San Franco, the city will need more Project Open Hand volunteers!
amazing and lovely work that helps our most vulnerable
I have been very blessed/very lucky to receive my daily meals made with love, 7 days a week while I recover from debilitating heart attacks. The volunteers who I see daily are wonderful!!! They always say hello to me by name, have a smile and kind words. I can not express enough what a great feeling that is. Let me also say the food is delicious, nutritious and I usually have enough left over for another. Thank you God for Project Open Hand. I just love them~ Sumiyati M~
A few years ago I decided to clean up and rationalize my charitable giving. While much of it goes to national level charities. I wanted a third to go to local. Project Open Hand is one of the three that I decided to give to - its mission to feed those who can't and are most needy in San Francisco is a truly righteous mission - they let me, by proxy, do what I believe I should be doing - helping those who can't help themselves who the city have forgotten. Join me in lending a helping hand
Project Open Hand is a great place to volunteer. I have volunteered several times in the large industrial kitchen and grocery center chopping veggies and packaging food for the thousands of meals delivered each day to sick people in need. Each 4 hour shift includes a wholesome and delicious meal served before work. First timers are treated to an orientation that explains the organization's history and the current operational workings. They use hundreds of volunteers each day. Come by yourself or with a group. Feel the satisfaction of helping and the camaraderie of working with these awesome people.
This organization is so well run that I'm not patting myself on the back for volunteering, my clients are doing it for me. Truly, I get such a wonderful kick in the pants each Sunday from the seniors at the Aquatic Center that I can honestly say they do more for me than I do for them. I've also been known to chop veggies at night at the kitchen - also great stuff - a way to meet with the wonderfully varied citizens of SF - most of whom I would never meet otherwise. Their mission has been solid from the outset but more and more science/health care is saying good, nutritious food is the best medicine. It makes all of us chop onions with a smile instead of a tear!
have been with Project Open hand for almost two years, I would be there a lot more, if i could get there! I love it, I love the volunteer services personnel, they rock, :)
Amira Barger 10/30/2014
Thanks, Misty! It's volunteers like you that make POH such a great place.
I have been volunteering as a special events volunteer for the last 3 years and I love it. I always have a lot of fun at the events and i wish I could do more. The staff and volunteer coordinators are always very helpful and supportive, and treat their volunteers very well. Whenever I have a chance to visit their facilities and kitchens everyone I meet is very friendly and they always have a smile on their face.
I enjoy volunteering for Project Open Hand and I wish my schedule would allow me to be more involved.
Amira Barger 10/30/2014
Thanks for this great review and for volunteering with us! - Maria Stokes, Communications Director
Amazing work these people are doing wonderful kind hearted. Thank you for everything
I have been volunteering with this organization for 3 years. Fantastic idea, using fresh ingredients to make healthy food daily for people in need. Very nice and dedicated group of people -- and a great organization to volunteer with.
From 1997-2009 I had the honor & the pleasure to be the Executive Chef @ Project Open Hand. I saw daily the great work this agency does in the San Francisco/ East Bay communities in which we served. Food is medicine and you only have to watch a POH client get better and stronger by eating well. POH takes care of many of the most vulnerable clients in our community. They do it with compassion, nutrition, and a sense of "family." By combining the efforts of volunteers, donors, staff and client participation, we can take care of our "village" together. If you want to give some of you're hard earned money to a charity that truly supports those in need, you will find the money is well spent here @ POH. They walk the walk & talk the talk.
I have been HIV+ for over 35 years now and have often found myself living on disability income which is not much even when it's really good. Project Open Hand - both now and in the past - has been a really great help when I needed it. Their food is terrific and their frozen/fresh meals are extraordinary.
I don't know where I'd be without them. Standing in line at the local soup kitchen, I suppose.
My wife and I have been delivering meals in the Tenderloin for Project Open Hand (POH) for nearly 29 years, just one year less that Project Open Hand's inception by Ruth Brinker. During that time period, we have seen how its meals have helped its clients survive and how our simple meet-and-greet interactions have put smiles on their faces and a heartfelt "Thank You" from their lips. We would not have put in these many years of volunteering for POH if we did not believe in its worth to the people who had AIDS or were HIV positive and who bore the social stigma of the disease. We are also ongoing contributors to POH, knowing that, although volunteering is helpful to the program, money is also necessary to keep its services operational. My wife and I are proud to be of what little service we have been to POH and hope others will join us in keeping this great program operating and expanding to meet the needs of the community.
Chuck and Gail Roberts
I have lived in San Francisco since 1967 (the Summer of Love!) and, for a time in the late 80s was a hospice volunteer. Three of my clients had AIDS in those early days of the disease, and they received meals from Project Open Hand. At that time it was a dinner and a sandwich and a side dish for later. The visits by the POH volunteer -- and me -- were the highlights of those people's days! Worthy of getting up and getting dressed too! In '95 I worked for a time as a Telefunder in the basement of the Trinity Church where Ruth Brinker cooked up those delicious meals. It's a wonderful organization, full of loving people. Meals With Love indeed.
POH brought me dinners for the 6 hardest months of my life while I was receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. The dinners were healthy and good and low in fat and dairy designed and recommended for people who have had breast cancer.
They took care of me and I felt the love.
Now I am a donor in their Supper Club, a monthly giving program.
I have been a happy client of POH for two years with no issues and it was a service which was tremendously beneficial to my health and I'm grateful for that support. Sadly I cannot say the same going forward. POH has embarked on very restrictive new guidelines as of July 2014 designed to greatly reduce their client base. I am a victim of these guidelines. Even though I have HIV and HepC and several other conditions including mental health issues, I was declined renewal. I was denied an appeals process and told by counselors that POH is "not an HIV services organization"; "that my receiving continued services might deny service to someone who was really sick"; that "sacrifices had to be made"; and in regard to my financial circumstances "we are not interested in that". It was cold, uncaring and wounded me greatly. I'm not working, my SSI case is pending and therefore I have no income other than odd jobs. POH has been my main food source and thanks to these new guidelines and callous attitudes I will now be food insecure which will undoubtedly take a toll on my health. I was given what they are calling "assistance in transition" which amounted to nothing more than hastily printed info on other food pantries in SF. I don't qualify for 95% of these due to either age, ethnic or zip code restrictions. Those for which I might qualify have long waiting lists and in certain cases those waiting lists are closed. POH has turned its back on their original Mission to serve and help those with HIV. I'm disgusted, dismayed and very disenchanted. While they are trying to paint these changes as "expanded services, they are anything but. The truth is they are trying to rid themselves of their HIV clients without regard to harming them in the process. It's truly sad to see what was once a great bastion of care for those with HIV turn their backs on that same community in solely because they believe there is more money in other diseases. I have no idea where my nutrition will come from going forward. Thanks POH for help in the past. Going forward I have no reason to support you any longer.
Amira Barger 10/10/2014
We have a responsibility to our community to adapt our services to continue to serve those who need us the most - neighbors with critical illness who can benefit the most from the nutritious, life-sustaining meals that Project Open Hand makes. While we will continue to serve people living with HIV?AIDS, who have acute symptoms, we have a responsibility to serve people with other serious illnesses who can benefit from good nutrition. Continually making best use of our resources is critical to the sustainability of our agency - to ensure we are here for another 30 years. By continuing to expand who we serve, we are able to access new funding opportunities, which can strengthen our agency. This ultimately benefits all of our clients and our entire community. Looking ahead, as our neighbors with HIV continue to age and face a growing number of health challenges, we want to be there and ready to serve them when they need us most. - Maria Stokes, Project Open Hand Communications Director
Amira Barger 10/10/2014
Rin, Here is a list of food resources and other community services that may be able to assist: http://www.freeprintshop.org/
They have helped me in so many different ways and have helped so many over the years!
Since the early 1980's, when the AIDS epidemic was in its' infancy, a little old lady (Ruth Brinker) had a vision that to this day grows with love. I saw many of my friends and coworkers pass and the vision that POH had was one of caring, compassion and nutrition. I have met many, many people through this agency and they have become friends to this day. I classify myself as a client served as my partner of 23 years, who passed in 2011, used POH since his diagnosis in 1996. There are no words that can express the amount of gratitude I have for this agency. It is unbelievable that the heart of POH is its' volunteers. It is humbling to know this. I will forever be grateful for the lessons this agency has and continues to teach me on this journey.
Wonderful place to get services & volunteer. Greatest thing is it is a place great for gay HIV+ men.
My partner & I are low income & HIV+. These days especially it can be quite difficult to pay bills plus get food on the table. Thank God for Project Openhand! They cater to gay, positive, low income people. They are friendly & very helpful. If you can't get to them, they will deliver meals to you.
Also if you are a looking for a place to volunteer, Project Openhand is the perfect place. They have no attitude. They are so nice. & they serve a clientele that is in great need & extremely grateful.
Beginning in June 2014 POH tightened up on its eligibility requirements for HIV/Aids/Hep C clients. I was denied services there after receiving meals for the past 10 years. I can't believe the 'Stepford Wife' type of reviews on this site. Alot of clients have fallen thru the cracks there recently. To share your stories or to get more info please email me = firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
I LOVE Project Open Hand! The true heart of this organization is LOVE. LOVE is a major ingredient in the food prepared for the Clients, it is delivered by volunteers who give of themselves, it is the major engine powering the staff along to get the job done efficiently and effectively, and it is what the Clients give back many times over. LOVE is what POH is all about!
As you all know that I am a client and a volunteer for Project Open Hand If it was not for POH and the great services that they offer who knows if I would be on this earth.
Not only does Project Open Hand provide Meals with Love but they provide a unconditional kind of love nutritionally as well as mentally. There be days that I am down mentally because of some reason like tcell levels are down or my viral load is up. Sometimes its about little petty selfish things that normally would not bother any other individual or individuals.
All I have to so is walk across the threshold of 730 Polk Street and there is a overwhelming warmth that goes over me that erases all my pains. The new friendships that I make everyday with open hand just makes my decision to be there tell the end more stronger. Also the mission statement " Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals with love to seniors and the critically ill." follows a mission statement that was instilled into me of "Service above Self" comes from Rotary International.
Several years ago I was visiting San Francisco and saw an advertisement for Project Open Hand and I was told that it was an organization that feeds the hungry and volunteers can work by chopping vegetables. I thought then that if I lived here, I would like to chop vegetables. Well, I have now lived here for a year and I have been volunteering for 10 months. I have had many more opportunities besides chopping vegetables and I know that working at POH has done more for me than I have done for them.
Project Open Hand is a great asset to the communities of San Francisco & Alameda Counties. I worked for POH as the Executive Chef for 12 years (1997-2009). I saw first hand what the Volunteers and Staff do everyday. This amazing non-profit was started by a retired grandmother who cared enough to make sure people who were sick had a hot nutritious meal. She knew that food created health. She knew that food =love. And everyday since volunteers and staff start early in the morning and work until 8 pm at night to fulfill Ruth's mission. providing a meal with love. Today over 2,600 meals a day are produced out of our Polk Street kitchen. Though I no longer stir the pots @ Project Open Hand, I always remember this as the best job I ever had. Because at the end of each day I knew that we made a difference in the community. POH is LOVE.
Amira Barger 10/28/2013
Thanks, Chef Mike!
I started volunteering at Project Open Hand because I wanted to give back to the community that I live and work in. I didn't really know what to expect when I walked into the Wednesday orientation meeting and was blown away by the volunteer coordinators. They are professional, passionate, helpful, friendly, and you can tell they love their job. I volunteer for night meal prep and work with a great group of people. It's only a small chunk of time every week and I look forward to the nights I volunteer at Project Open Hand.
I volunteered in the kitchen for three years at Project Open Hand. It is truly a wonderful, welcoming community for everyone who is involved - from volunteers and donors to clients and staff. It is so rewarding to be part of an organization that provides neighbors in need with delicious, nutritious food that heals both body and soul.
I have volunteered at POH for over 6 years. To start with, I wanted to get a distraction from work and home. It turned out to be a great place to meet new friends and enjoy the friendly staff. In addition, I felt very grateful when I was helping the clients directly at the grocery center. I put my actions in the past since I stopped volunteering to go on a long travel. When I settle back in San Francisco, I'll be happy to go volunteer again at the grocery center to work with Marcus, Sarah and Rachel!
I helped out with the Senior Lunch Program which served lunch to the elderly in the basement of a neighborhood church. Even more delightful than the other volunteers I worked with, were the elderly folks themselves. Most of them shared fascinating stories from thier lives while they ate a delicious and nutritious meals. It was apparent to me that these folks spend a lot of time in isolation. I believe it was a beneficial time for both volunteers and participants as no one left that basement without taking away something more than they had before arriving.
I've been volunteering at P.O.H for over 2 1/2 yrs. I like volunteering there because of certain volunteers, are there, now. I must admit, I feel more comfortable, at P.O.H, then I did last year!!!!
I have been a volunteer at Project OpenHand for about 12 years. I work in the kitchen doing prep work
and on the "line" putting the cooked food into containers for clients. During my 12 years there I have met some wonderful people, both employees and workers. I started giving money every month to
POH and finally decided to see where my money was going, so I volunteered. I figured I'd be there for a
while then move on to something else. That was 12 years ago. Their slogan, "Meals with Love" is
really quite literal. Some love goes into every meal that's prepared and it shows, both in the quality of
the meals and the care with which the meals are packaged. Great care goes into not only making meals
nutritious and delicious but making them look as delicious as they taste.
Meals with Love. Indeed.
After learning about Project Open Hand through the documentary "We Were There," I began to volunteer three years ago. I feel so proud to participate in such a long-standing, intelligent, and downright kind organization. It truly reflects the community values I cherish, not just on paper, but in its day to day action. Volunteering there helps me get grounded in the basics of life and has helped me get to know a wide array of lovely clients, volunteers, and staff members.
For many years, Project Open Hand has helped the homebound by bringing them hot meals. I've witnessed firsthand the difference this service makes in people's lives. Their grocery centers are also a wonderful efficient operation making a difference for those in need.
Review from JustGive
Smiling faces, compassionate people, and delicious food. This is an amazing organization that brings me joy to be a part of. The thousands of meals they serve each and every day are truly cooked with love. I recommend that all of you stop by and experience this for yourselves.
Review from Guidestar
As far as non-profits go in San Francisco, Project Open Hand is notorious, and well deserving of this reputation. This is an organization that takes care of their clients, their volunteers, and the city of San Francisco. Their services are literally hands on, and you can see the impact they have on the community. They have evolved with the times, not only helping those with HIV/AIDS, but also have incredible senior programs and breast cancer programs.
Review from Guidestar
I've been associated with Project Open Hand for many years. Friends have received meals from the organization when they've been sick. I've volunteered in their grocery center in the Tenderloin and been told by clients coming in for groceries that this place has kept them alive, that they come here and feel really cared for. I know people who have volunteered for over 20 years and come every week to work in the kitchen or deliver meals. The staff is just awesome, really dedicated. It's clear that it's not just a job for them. They put their heart into it. I would invite anyone to go and take a look for themselves or even volunteer. It feels good!
Review from Guidestar
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GIVE MONEY TO THIS ORGANIZATION!!! Our company supplied produce to Project Open Hand for many years. After I bought the company, it came to my attention that the chef at Project Open Hand had been hitting my company up for bribes for years. I went directly to the President of the organization, Tom Nolan. Not only did he not deem it worth his time to meet with us in person (even though we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars annually), he sent a few lower level people to our office, proceeding to interrogate and attempting to humiliate and discredit our employee. He concluded his "investigation" by white washing the incident and kept the person responsible for the bribery employed! Considering Tom Nolan is a leader in the community, on several boards and gets paid several hundred thousand dollars a year, I find this whole episode appalling. The people I feel the worst for are those who give their hard earned money to the organization. Please know that some of that money goes to supporting Tom's large salary and the bribery that is rampant in the organization.