2013 Top Company winner: Project Angel Heart

NONPROFIT

PROJECT ANGEL HEART (Watch a video about Project Angel Heart.)

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory proposed in 1943 that established a framework for human motivation, one of the most fundamental physiological necessities is nourishment. Yet if you were unable to feed yourself, what would you do?

Luckily for Coloradans, the staff and volunteers of Project Angel Heart prepare and package meals and deliver food to more than 900 clients, all of whom face a limited ability to shop or cook for themselves due to life-threatening illnesses.

And it’s not the stereotypical slop often depicted in hospital cafeterias and nursing homes; instead an average of 18 to 20 meal variations each day are tailored to meet the dietary and medical needs of each client.

“With their basic nutritional needs met, our clients usually find their quality of life stabilizes or improves, stabilizing entire families and, perhaps communities,” said Erin Pulling, executive director of the nonprofit founded in 1991 when a small group of friends saw their neighbors wasting away from AIDS.

“Even without resources, they still came together,” said Amy Daly, vice president of development. “That first meal was served to 12 friends with 12 flower deliveries alongside. I love that beginning and it still holds true to who we are today.”

More than 20 years later, Project Angel Heart anticipates serving more than 485,000 meals in 2013 alone.

Last January, the meal delivery program completed a $7.1 million campaign to relocate into a spacious, state-of-the-art, Denver-based facility, aiming to amp up its services to more than 2,600 clients annually by 2015.

“It’s like we have all this potential energy now to do so much more,” Daly said. But she noted that it takes more than added space. “We made a promise to the community … we want to grow resources, partnerships and volunteers.”

She explained the continuous flood of requests has resulted in a six-week waiting list that fluctuates throughout the year.

“This is still very much a grassroots, community-driven organization, based on personal relationships,” Daly said. “We had more than 8,800 volunteers in 2012, lending a hand. Most of us have known someone who was ill and in need of some kind of service.”