Heim Foundation provides Thanksgiving pies to NO/AIDS clients

I started writing about the Food for Friends Holiday Pie Sale in 2007, the year Glen Kahrman, medical dietician and program manager, came up with the idea of selling pies to raise much-needed money for the NO/AIDS Task Force’s home-delivered meals and food pantry. “The majority of the Food for Friends money comes from the community and NO/AIDS fund-raising,” Kahrman said.

Last year, Food for Friends delivered more than 39,000 meals to clients and also distributed 125,000 pounds of groceries through the pantry. “Though we have been able to increase our pantry service to 400 clients, we continue to have over 200 on our wait list,” he said.

I love his holiday pie idea: You can lighten your baking obligations for Thanksgiving Day and help give Food for Friends clients nutritious and heart-warming meals. Or, if you’re having dinner at a relative’s house, you can offer to bring dessert.

The 9-inch apple, pumpkin and pecan pies are delicious. They’re made by Palate New Orleans, which has been providing tasty meals for the home delivery program since Katrina swamped the Food for Friends kitchen on Columbus Street.

Glenn Vatshell and his staff prepare hundreds of pies for the cost of the ingredients, so $10 out of every $15 pie you buy goes to Food for Friends. “That’s enough to provide three holiday dinners for our clients,” Kahrman said.

From the beginning, part of Kahrman’s plan was to deliver a pie to each client along with Thanksgiving dinner. “We were going to take it out of the profits from the sale,” he said.

The lagniappe that makes this story even sweeter is this: When Barbara Pailet read about the first pie sale, she called Kahrman. After they talked, she told him that the Bruce J. Heim Foundation would like to underwrite the cost of the pies going to the clients.

“They’ve been doing it since the first year,” Kahrman said. “This year, Barbara called me and said, ‘It’s time for me to send you a check.'”


WHAT: Palate New Orleans’ apple, pecan and pumpkin pies are sold to raise money for the NO/AIDS Task Force’s home-delivered meals program

COST: $15 for each pie

TO ORDER: E-mail Food for Friends program manager Glen Kahrman at glenk@noaidstf.org or call him at 504.821.2601, ext. 254. You can also FAX orders to 504.821.2040. Place orders by Nov. 12.

PICK-UP: Pies can be picked up at Palate New Orleans, 8220 Willow St., on Nov. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you order five or more pies, you can get free delivery in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

In 2007, Food for Friends had around 200 clients. This year they have 500. “It’s so wonderful not to have to take the cost of the clients’ pies out of our profits,” Kahrman said.

When I heard about the Heim Foundation, I wanted to know who Bruce J. Heim was and why the foundation’s board decided to support the pie sale. Barbara Pailet was happy to tell me.

Pailet, executive director of the small private foundation, lives in New Orleans, which is why the foundation is based here. “I came to New Orleans to go to Newcomb (College), got married and learned that once you’re here, you’re not allowed to leave,” she joked.

Bruce J. Heim was her brother. He was born in New York in 1952, grew up in Miami, graduated from Dartmouth College and its Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, and became a hugely successful financial analyst in New York. “It was the beginning of the merger mania on Wall Street,” Pailet said.

In 1986, he became ill, and Pailet went to New York to see him. “Unfortunately, he was part of the early spread of AIDS and fell victim to it in 1990,” she said.

When he learned that he was sick, he wanted to leave some kind of legacy. “Bruce said, ‘I don’t have any children. When I die, it will be as if I were walking in the sand and the tide wiped out my footprint,'” Pailet said.

As a young boy, he had been shy and couldn’t read. He learned to read with the help of a private tutor, and that changed his life. “He was brilliant. Once he learned to read, there was no stopping him,” Pailet said.

So he decided to do something to help other children reach their potential. He started the foundation in 1986 when he was 33. “He said, ‘We can fund programs to help children find their voices,” Pailet said. “He was still alive when we made our very first grant.”

That first grant went to the Boys Choir of Harlem. Since then, the foundation has funded a variety of scholarships, grants and special programs across the country and in the New Orleans area.

“We fund programs like robotics competitions and the science fair here,” Pailet said. “Educational programs for children are our true calling.”

The foundation supports teen suicide prevention programs and anti-bullying programs, too. “Gay children are far more likely to commit suicide than other children,” she said. “These quality of life issues are the things we look to fund.”

While the holiday pies are a little bit different, she knows her brother would approve. “Bruce loved visiting New Orleans. He loved parties. He loved celebrating. And if someone is sick, something sweet is the kind of thing Bruce would love to provide,” she said.

And many of the Food for Friends clients have children. Women make up a third of the clients; 75 percent of them have children.

“We feel it’s very much an underpinning of supporting their scholarship to see children happy and well-fed,” Pailet said.

The holiday pies have been a big hit with the people who purchase them, and the clients get a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. It means a lot to know somebody cares about them. “The first year, they were thoroughly surprised,” Kahrman said. “Now, they really look forward to the pies.”

For Pailet, the pies feel like an appropriate tribute to her brother. “Bruce’s last words before he died were ‘I sure would love a piece of chocolate cake,'” she said. “Pies are close enough. Sweet Thanksgiving pies.”

SOURCE ARTICLE: https://www.nola.com/