Feast For Friends
“I buried Darrell on a Saturday, I came back on Monday. I knew if I didn’t, I never would.” – Martha Bowers, The Commercial Appeal, March 19, 1997
In 1992, Darrell Bowers and his mother, Martha, began a dinner program for persons living with HIV/AIDS called Feast For Friends. The goal was to provide nutritious meals to those battling this strange and dreaded disease while providing a safe haven filled with love and understanding.
The first major hurdle was to find a home for this noble program. Darrell asked his church, St. John’s United Methodist Church at 1207 Peabody Avenue, for the use of the fellowship hall and kitchen. Feast For Friends had found a home, but soon, far too soon, Martha buried a son.
Nineteen years later, his dream for Feast For Friends continues to this day only because of the unconditional love of a mother for her son and her dedication to his dream.Feast For Friends is a free dinner on the first and third Mondays of each month for persons living with HIV/AIDS and their friends, families and caregivers. For some, it’s the most nutritious meal they will have until the next Feast For Friends dinner. Doors open at 5:00 pm with appetizers served at 6:00 pm and the meal is served at 6:30 pm. The tables are complete with nice tablecloths and fresh flowers as the centerpiece of each table and guests are served by the volunteers as one would be in a restaurant. For many clients, the Feast For Friends dinner will be the best hot meal they have until the next Feast meal is held.
Feast For Friends is implemented completely by volunteers in that the volunteers cook the food, serve the food to the guests and clean up the space after the meal is completed. A Friends For Life staff member has the responsibility of providing oversight of all activities, scheduling the entertainment and overseeing the volunteers.
Entertainment is often a part of the event with individual volunteers providing their talents such as playing the violin, singing and playing other musical instruments during the meal. In addition, church choirs, theater groups and even a local group of belly-dancers have provided entertainment at the meals. Feast For Friends has received several honors; in 2003, Volunteer Memphis selected the program as the best volunteer project in Memphis . Then in 2004, the program was honored with the Tour Guide Award from Hands On Memphis and Hands On Memphis volunteer, John Carter, who also volunteers regularly with Feast For Friends, was given the Hands On Memphis Visionary Award for his work with Feast For Friends.
You can help ensure this program continues by sponsoring a meal for $100 or by donating whatever amount you are able to provide. Donate here.