A 10-year-old boy from El Paso, Texas saw his classmates wearing trendy new sneaker brands, so he asked his mom if he could have a new pair. Mrs. Ayoub simply told her son to get in the car. After driving for miles, to his astonishment, she had passed numerous shopping centers. Confused, young Richard realized his mom had reached the Mexican border.
Mom drove right over the border bridge, wheeling her way into the center of a massive landfill. Richard was stunned at the sight of so many sad, tattered people living in cardboard homes amongst trash. The lesson learned from his new shoe request needed no explanation. The dispirited child had clearly received mom’s message. With sincere empathy he asked, “How can I help all of these people? There are so many of them!”
Jetting decades forward, that childhood experience inspired Richard Ayoub to become a news journalist and television producer who would become known for getting to the heart of issues and making them matter to people. His compelling storytelling, complemented with plate-spinning management, budgeting and production skills, made Richard the perfect candidate for directing a non-profit like Project Angel Food. This amazing organization cooks and home delivers over 600,000 nutritious meals each year, free of charge, bringing comfort and hope to those struggling from life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
What Project Angel Food meant to Richard, was a chance to really help people. He is a man on a mission of love and altruism with a pressing desire to make a difference. In Richard’s words, “Project Angel Food brings out the best in Los Angeles. This building, and everyone in it, is like a sanctuary of goodness. Everyone is here because they want to be. They want to make a difference. They are selfless. They work sometimes four days a week without pay because they know their work is for someone who is sick, hungry, and alone. Every day, I feel like, just walking through those doors, we improve the lives of 1,400 people. Whatever else may be going on in our lives or the world around us, we know we make their lives better.
Leslie, a client of Project Angel Food, wished to thank them and wrote, “As a person living alone, who has worked full-time and been self-sufficient my whole life, illness has changed my life dramatically. Your food service, kindness and caring helps so many others like myself through our arduous journey back to wellness. I am at a loss for words to express the sincerity and depth of my gratitude…you people are the definition of kindness and compassion.”
Project Angel Food was founded by Marian Williamson, a regarded author, lecturer and activist. The non-profit was an early responder to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and became a cultural icon of the LGBTQ and other communities. Galvanizing an inclusive array of people, the organization now serves 11.5 million meals to over 20,000 Southern California residents.
During Richard’s tenure of three years, Project Angel Food has grown by an astounding fifty percent. Richard feels his job is never done when he has a waiting list of 350 people who need food. His immediate goal is to have no waiting list, ever.
Richard is thankful to NEFT Vodka for their efforts to help fill this gap. NEFT is launching a limited-edition barrel designed by mixed-media artist, Paul Robinson, to celebrate LA Pride Month. A portion of sales proceeds will go to Project Angel Food. Join them June 9 – July 31 at participating venues including Tortilla Republic – 616 North Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA and Taste – 8454 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA. On June 9, look for Tortilla Republic’s white tent, where NEFT Vodka can be enjoyed if you are 21 or older.