Denise Scatena / Arika Daniels

Tree of Life World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil
Set for December 1 at Village Hillcrest

San Diego – NOV. 3, 2015 – Mama’s Kitchen and Village Hillcrest will host the 24th annual Tree of Life Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at 6:00 p.m., at 3965 Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest. The ceremony, which is sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and considered San Diego County’s premiere event to commemorate World AIDS Day, honors those affected by AIDS and recognizes the ongoing leadership efforts made to end the worldwide epidemic. The event is free and open to the public. 

The theme of World AIDS Day 2015 is “Getting to Zero,” which is backed by the United Nations and focuses on raising awareness of HIV and the importance of HIV education.

Dr. Adam Zweig, Medical Director of AHF San Diego Healthcare Center reminds us that HIV has not gone away and that there are many things still to be done. “Tree of Life is San Diego’s annual event to reflect on our own and our loved ones’ experiences with HIV and AIDS. There are still 50,000 new HIV infections occurring each year in the U.S.—a number that has sadly remained static over the past decade—so World AIDS Day and Tree of Life offer an opportunity for us to reflect, redouble our efforts in prevention, care and treatment as well as to look optimistically to the future.”

At the annual Tree of Life event, a candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate those we have lost to AIDS. Delana Bennett, co-host of “Jesse Lozano in the Morning” on STAR 94.1, will serve as event emcee. Attendees will enjoy holiday tunes from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and complimentary refreshments will be served. More than 200 people are expected to attend.   

“The annual Tree of Life Ceremony unites the community to honor World AIDS Day and those affected by the disease,” said Alberto Cortés, executive director, Mama’s Kitchen. “In an intimate setting, community leaders and members are able to provide support and further our mission of helping those affected by AIDS.”

The trees are decorated with ornaments that honor those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS and will remain on display throughout the holiday season at Village Hillcrest. Ornaments can be purchased online at prior to the event or that evening and personalized with a message. The cost is $15 each or two for $25.   

All proceeds from the Tree of Life Ceremony benefit Mama’s Kitchen, San Diego’s only free county-wide meal delivery service for men, women and children affected by AIDS or cancer. This year, Mama’s Kitchen is celebrating 25 years of service to the community. Since the organization’s beginning, 7.5 million meals have been served and tens of thousands of individuals have been helped through their illness. Last year, Mama’s Kitchen delivered 284,925 meals to 394 San Diegans affected by HIV/AIDS.

Community sponsors are needed to support this event. For more information about Tree of Life or to participate in holiday giving opportunities, please call Aimee Halfpenny at (619) 233-6262 or visit

About Mama’s Kitchen
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Mama’s Kitchen was founded when volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund discovered that many of their clients were becoming too ill to take care of themselves. They realized that a reliable home meal delivery service was needed to ensure that these individuals would continue to receive nutritious, life-sustaining food. In 2004, Mama’s Pantry was opened to provide individuals with HIV/AIDS who are able to prepare meals the opportunity to supplement their nutritional needs. Mama’s Kitchen has served over seven million meals since it was founded and has never turned away a client who qualified for our services. Our commitment to our clients remains unchanged. Today, the organization has expanded its service to San Diegans affected by either AIDS or cancer. Mama’s Kitchen provides three meals a day, for every day of the year, free of charge, to approximately 350 men, women, and children in San Diego County. Learn more and make a donation at Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.