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.
Awards and Honors
- 2013 ColoradoBiz Magazine's Top Company of the Year, Nonprofit Category
- 2012 Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Large Non Profit Organization of the Year
- 2011 Denver Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Non Profit of the Year
- 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission Community Service Award
- 2009 Cherry Creek Chamber Non Profit of the Year
- 2009 Metropolitan Denver Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s 2009 Karen Hornbostel Community Champion Award
- 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award
- 2007 - 2011 Four Star (highest ranking) Charity with Charity Navigator
- 2007 Victory Against Hunger Award from The Congressional Hunger Center, nominated by Congresswoman Diana DeGette
- 2006 Good Neighbor Award for Outstanding Non-Profit, Capitol Hill United Neighborhood
- 2006 GLBTF Ministry Global Hearts Award, Mile Hi Church
- 2005 Community Partner of the Year, HealthONE Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center
- 2004-2005 Distinguished Community Partner, University of Denver, Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning
- 2004 Collaborating Agency of the Year, Visiting Nurse Association
- 2003 Outstanding Non-Profit Organization Award, Out Front Colorado
- 2002 Julie and Spencer Penrose Award, Colorado’s Most Outstanding Nonprofit Organization, El Pomar Foundation
- 2001 November 13th, 2001 "Project Angel Heart Day” as proclaimed by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb,