Founder of Project Open Hand, Passed Away

Didn’t check email for a while, so posting this a tad late.  My sincere condolences to Ms. Brinker’s family and to Project Open Hand on your loss.


San Francisco, CA – On August 8, 2011, Ruth Brinker, Founder of Project Open Hand, passed away peacefully at Eden Villa Assisted Living Center in San Francisco. Ruth was born on May 1, 1922 in South Dakota and moved to San Francisco in the mid-1950s. She died after a series of strokes and the effects of vascular illness. In 1985, having retired from a career in food services, Ruth heard about a neighbor who died of AIDS. She was shocked to discover that malnutrition was as much the cause of her neighbor’s death as the illness itself. She realized that many others living with AIDS were in the same situation and she knew she could do something. Ruth began preparing meals in her kitchen and delivering them to seven people. That number quickly grew and volunteers came to help her cook and deliver hot, nourishing meals all over San Francisco to people living alone and struggling with a devastating illness. “I didn’t think I was doing anything special,” Ruth said. “I did what anyone would have done under those circumstances.” With this simple act of kindness, repeated day after day with compassion and care, Project Open Hand was born. When Ruth delivered her meals, she took the time to talk with each person and help each feel loved and cared for. For Ruth, it was more than nutritious, dependable food. It was ‘meals with love.’ Executive Director of Project Open Hand Tom Nolan states, “So many people have been touched by Ruth in San Francisco, the Bay Area and far beyond. From Ruth’s vision evolved an organization, supported by a generous community and dedicated volunteers and staff, who provide daily nutrition and compassion to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community: people living with HIV/AIDS, the homebound, critically ill with any serious illness, and seniors throughout San Francisco and Alameda County, totaling over 7,000 people every year. Her vision has gone on to inspire over 100 other organizations throughout the U.S. as well as the United Kingdom and South Africa, bringing people together to provide nutrition with compassion to their neighbors in need. We all owe her a great debt of gratitude and we will all miss her.” Last year Project Open Hand honored Ruth with the Visionary Award in recognition of her courage and compassion. To continue her legacy, Project Open Hand will continue to honor visionaries in the community with the Ruth Brinker Visionary Award. Ruth is survived by her daughters Lisa Brinker and Sarah Brinker, and by her grandson, Max Corso and great granddaughter, Bailey Corso who encourage those who wish to honor Ruth to make contributions to Project Open Hand at A celebration of Ruth’s life will be held on September 16, 2011 and the public is welcome to attend. Please check on the Project Open Hand website soon for the time and place.