Project Angel Food held a celebration for what would have been George Michael’s 54th birthday on Sunday afternoon, June 25, in their parking lot in Hollywood. Project Angel Food invited the community to an open house at the 8,000 square foot kitchen at 922 Vine Street. LA City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who was a volunteer driver for the organization for two years in the ‘90’s, spoke eloquently to the crowd about his love for Project Angel Food. As a fan of the “Faith” singer, O’Farrell praised George Michael as an outstanding example of nurturing and care. He presented a written proclamation to Project Angel Food officially naming June 25, 2017 George Michael Day.
The celebration also included a musical tribute produced by Clifford Bell, which included 11 of the stars’ greatest hits. The show was co-hosted by Mark Cirillo, a Project Angel Food stalwart, and Chase Masterson. The entire cast donated their talent to this special occasion including musical director Joseph Mulroy, on bass Al Garcia, on drums Tom Bowe, saxophone Doug Webb. Performances by Kirsten Holly Smith belted out “Freedom” and “Faith” with backup vocals by Mindy Kemp and Audrey Corsa. Levi Freeman sang a sexy “Father Figure”, Justin Charles Cowden sang a stunning version of “Careless Whispers”, rapper B. Martin brought the house down with his version of “I Want Your Sex”, Kelly Mantle performed a riveting version of “A Different Corner.” Keith Borden, a full-time staff driver for Project Angel Food, is an unbelievable performer whose gospel version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” tore the roof off. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” performed by exciting duo Craig McEldowney and Justin Charles Cowden wowed the crowd. Todd Sherry sang a jazzy “Kissing A Fool”, Kaylene Peoples performed a sultry “One More Try”. Cynthia Manley performed a stunning version of Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”.
Guests also enjoyed a picnic in the parking lot prepared by Project Angel Food’s chefs. A giant birthday cake with the initials “GM” covered in sprinkles was accompanied by a specially created “Caramel Whisper” ice cream named for one of George Michael’s greatest hits. After the crowd sang a rousing “Happy Birthday”, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and Project Angel Food Executive Director Richard Ayoub cut the cake and guests signed a giant birthday banner, which is being sent to the family of George Michael in England to commemorate the occasion. There was also a check presentation in the amount of $4,820 that was raised on GoFundMe by George Michael Fan Club member Deb Carlino. The fan club is hoping to raise a total of $25,000 to match the sum George gifted the organization annually. In 1993, when Project Angel Food was in danger of not making payroll, the singer left a check for $25,000 and a handwritten note on the charity’s doorstep. He supported the organization from that moment on until the day he died.
Project Angel Food has served the community tirelessly for 28 years, providing more than 10.5 million meals to men and women living with critical illness. The kitchen, staff and volunteers prepare over 11,000 meals a week, free of charge, and medically tailored to the requirements of people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease, congestive heart failure and diabetes. The mission is one of love, to feed and nourish the sick as they fight their battle. Many of the clients are living well below the poverty line and Project Angel Food is the lifeline, filling a vital need in all communities. The client base is testimony to this fact, 40% Latino, 30% African-American, 21% Caucasian, 5% Asian and 4% multiracial.