When it comes to tackling big challenges, it’s hard to find two friends who work harder to raise money and awareness for lifesaving causes than Blaine Trump and Kinga Lampert. And since they both have homes in the Miami area, we thought it’d be cool if they interviewed each other for our South Florida issue that’s on the newsstands now. And we were right!
Part 1 of this series is here. Part 2, Kinga’s interview with Blaine is below.
Blaine is on the board of God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD) that works to improve the health and well-being of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. GLWD prepares and deliver nutritious, high-quality meals to people who, because of their illness, are unable to provide or prepare meals for themselves. GLWD also provides illness-specific nutrition education and counseling to clients, families, care providers and other service organizations.
Blaine: I first volunteered for GLWD in 1986 delivering meals. We were in the midst of the AIDS pandemic, and I had several friends diagnosed with AIDS. At that time, this diagnosis was a death sentence. The fear was palpable and sadly that meant that AIDS patients were largely ostracized. The need to provide basic care, such as healthy meals, was enormous. AIDS patients were being sent home from hospitals with no social services to deliver meals, and it broke my heart to think of people home alone and hungry. That was the beginning of my journey.
Kinga: What’s your greatest achievement?
Blaine: I’m proud of the fact that, in a small way, I’ve helped thousands of people live with dignity, love and hope. We delivered our 21 millionth meal a few months ago, which blows me away! It also amazes me that we can feed an individual for 6 months for the cost of one day in the hospital! Food is medicine and keeping people healthy through nutrition is a win, win! When I began working at Gods Love, we were sending out 25 to 50 meals a day, and now we send out seven to eight thousand meals a day.
Today, we are not just an AIDS organization. We feed anyone that’s critically ill and unable to shop or cook for themselves. We also feed their families and caregivers when needed. We’ve never had a wait list, and as a result of the generosity of New Yorkers and various companies, the meals are free of charge! I’m very proud of that accomplishment!
Kinga:How do you provide funding, and what is the main source of income?
Blaine: Special events provide 30 percent of our budget. The balance comes from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, corporations, federal and state funding and individual donations. Amazingly, we have over 10,000 active volunteers who prepare and deliver meals throughout the year.
Kinga:Do you have a trademark event?
Blaine: Our annual Golden Heart event sponsored by Michael Kors is our most successful trademark event. We honor people for outstanding community service and volunteerism. This year we will honor Hugh Jackman, Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Jamie Niven. We also have an annual Run Walk in Central Park, Authors in Kind Luncheon (Linda Fairstein hosts) and our recently added “Love Rocks” concert.
Kinga:How did you get involved from the beginning?
Blaine: I received a letter from a total stranger, Buddy Noro. He asked me to help a small group of volunteers preparing and delivering meals for AIDS clients. They were working out of the basement of the West Park Presbyterian Church on W 86th Street. Having friends suffering with AIDS, his letter really hit home. I knew immediately that I wanted to help in some way. So, I hopped in a taxi and met our founder, Ganga Stone, at the church. We connected and the rest is history.
Kinga: How did your involvement grow from that first meeting. Did you join the board?
Blaine: Join the Board? What Board? I helped wherever they needed me which was really in the fundraising area. We were broke and struggling for survival. I started organizing dinners and small events to help raise the money we needed. AIDS was a pandemic people knew very little about, and many felt it would never be a part of their life. I just kept asking people to help in any way they felt comfortable and I found New Yorkers were so generous…it was wonderful! Our Board was very informal in the beginning, and Ganga promised we would meet twice a year or so… that quickly changed. Our board is a hard-working, impressive group now.
Kinga: Does Gods Love serve only in New York?
Blaine: We serve in all five boroughs of New York and Hudson County. Home base is located in Soho. Our building was purchased at a City Auction. It was a derelict building, but we had the courage to buy it. People thought we were crazy, but it’s still our home. We have a beautiful state-of-the-art kitchen, production facility and administrative offices. David Geffen was very generous and gave us $1.5 million to start refurbishing the building over 20 years ago. Thankfully another of our guardian angels, Michael Kors, gave us a $5 million gift to rebuild the building after 20 years of wear and tear. We have been so lucky to have such generous donors supporting our mission!!!
Kinga: Tell me about the event you hosted in Miami to spread the word about the organization.
Blaine: God’s Love We Deliver published their first cookbook, and we hosted a book party to celebrate in Miami at The Setai. Jon Gillman, our hard-working trustee, put the book together. David Ludwigson and our CEO Karen Pearl came from NYC to help thank everyone. We have a lot of supporters in the Miami area! Actually we have supporters across the country! The Setai agreed to be the host sponsor and did a spectacular job! We had a cocktail party and sold books in the courtyard to spread the word about our mission. We had fun and sampled some of the recipes in the cookbook! Hard to beat great food and friends… don’t you think!?