In 1991, founder Charles Robbins returned home to Denver from living in Los Angeles to find friends living with HIV/AIDS wasting away before his eyes. That fall, he founded Project Angel Heart, modeling it after Project Angel Food, the Los Angeles organization where he had been a volunteer.
At first, Charles and a group of friends simply solicited food from local restaurants and distributed it on the weekends from their homes. Project Angel Heart’s first meal was a pan of lasagna donated by Racines restaurant and delivered to 12 clients.
Over the next three years, Project Angel Heart grew steadily both in the number of clients served and the services provided. By 1994, Project Angel Heart was delivering meals six days per week. In 1996, the HIV/AIDS-related death rates plummeted due to promising new treatments for patients. As a result, more people than ever were living with HIV/AIDS and needing various human services. In the spring of 1997 alone, demand for Project Angel Heart meals increased by 60%.
In 1999, acknowledging the intense community need for home-delivered meals among people living with cancer and other life-threatening diseases besides HIV/AIDS, the Board of Directors declared its intention to expand Project Angel Heart’s mission to include people living with any life-threatening illness. However, as space capacity at Our Savior's Lutheran Church was already running low (resulting in the initiation of a waiting list in early 2000), such expansion could not happen until the agency moved into a larger kitchen. Luckily, there was an available kitchen at 4190 Garfield Street — big, modern, affordable, and easy to clean. Project Angel Heart leaders began working to raise money necessary to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Randy Barbour, long-time kitchen volunteer and board member, volunteered to spearhead the capital campaign to make this new kitchen a reality for Project Angel Heart. Tragically, Randy was then diagnosed with colon cancer and died in April 2000, before the campaign was complete. In his memory, Project Angel Heart’s new kitchen was christened “Randy’s Kitchen.”
In early 2001, Project Angel Heart successfully completed its $600,000 capital campaign, raising over $800,000 to remodel the kitchen and build offices. As soon as we moved in the spring of 2001, we eliminated our waiting list and began to expand our boundaries to the north, where we had high concentrations of eligible clients. That summer, we acquired equipment necessary to offer our clients the option of receiving a week’s worth of frozen meals. By early 2002, about half of our clients had chosen this option.
In 2005, after feasibility research and much planning, Project Angel Heart launched service to Colorado Springs. Meals for Colorado Springs clients are prepared in Randy’s Kitchen and delivered to Colorado Springs via a freezer truck. Today, over 300 Colorado Springs clients per year receive Project Angel Heart meals.