Home > Blog > When Richie met Marie: A tale of two steadfast Project Open Hand supporters
By Tara Blake, Marketing Communications Officer

Longtime Project Open Hand volunteers and AIDS Walk fundraisers Richie McAllister and Marie Crinnion are often recognized for two things: an off-the-hook annual backyard BBQ fundraiser and a tenacity in making a difference by serving others in their neighborhoods.

Marie, who started volunteering regularly for Project Open Hand in 1991, originally connected to the agency's mission because of people in her life that had been affected by AIDS. She fell in love with delivering meals to the doors of clients, getting to know a little more about them each week.

And Richie met Marie nine years later.

“I met Marie in 2000. Actually, it was 18 years ago this Sunday. She was already volunteering and at that point my dad and mom were affected by AIDS it made sense to help her deliver. And now, I’m what, 17 years in?”

Marie and Richie deliver meals in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.

“Marie was right, it’s an instant reward! I remember at the end of the route on my very first day volunteering, I had an overwhelming, good feeling come over me. I realized I was able to help someone with a nutritious meal, and that person maybe wouldn't have seen anyone else that day. I remember saying, ‘Man, I think I can do this for a long time.’”

Marie and Richie blurt out names of clients who have drastically impacted them over the years. A couple stood out in their minds -- James, Stanley. But the longer they thought about it, the brighter their faces would light up as someone else was remembered -- Jeff, Robin...

Richie sits proudly, adding personalized remarks about each one.

“Even though you could see that James looked sick, when we were there he was always smiling and happy. Even when some clients aren’t feeling well, for a moment, you often can see there’s a smile, or hope. It feels good.”

Marie confirms with a head nod and an illumined and uncontrolled smile. 

Richie says, “I’m just a delivery guy at Project Open Hand, but there are a lot of pieces that go into the meal before I get it, from the person ordering the food, to the person putting it in the tray. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, but we get to be the ones who deliver and see the final result and it is gratifying.”

Saturday, June 24, 2017 marks the 15th annual backyard BBQ fundraiser at Richie and Marie’s house in the Haight district of San Francisco, and as Richie puts it, “it’s a fine-tuned machine at this point.”

Complete with a stage manager, the BBQ will have all-day live music, a burlesque show, all you can eat and drink, and more!

“We had about 400 people attend last year. We’ll have burgers, hot dogs, chicken parmesan, pasta, chicken broccoli alfredo, you name it. We even have a woman who cooks pizza in a portable pizza oven in our backyard during the entire event. She’s amazing.”

Over the last 15 years, Marie and Richie have built relationships with local restaurants, bars, and breweries, receiving in-kind donations every year, including their friend at Balboa Cafe who donates large portions of his signature pulled pork dish.

With a $25 suggested donation at the door, Marie and Richie's barbecue is open to the public and is located at 233 Central Avenue (between Oak & Page Street) from Noon - 10:00 PM. For more information, contact [email protected]

Every year Project Open Hand participates in AIDS Walk San Francisco, a 6.2 mile walk through Golden Gate Park, with a group of POH staff, clients, and volunteers participating alongside walkers. . Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised $86 million for HIV programs and services in the Bay Area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in Northern California. This year, on Sunday, July 16 at Goldne Gate Park, Project Open Hand will be one of the primary beneficiaries for AIDS Walk 2017.​



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