For Immediate Release
Los Angeles, Calif. (December 1, 2011) – As the global community today observes World AIDS Day, philanthropist Bob North has announced his family's commitment to establish a $3.5 million endowment for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). The endowment ranks among the largest gifts to a U.S.-based AIDS service organization and will honor Vance North, son of Bob and Lois. Vance died of AIDS-related complications in 1995.
The endowment will support all of APLA's critical direct client services, along with its prevention and advocacy efforts. In recognition of the creation of the endowment, the agency will rename its food pantry network, the largest of its kind nationwide, as the "Vance North Necessities of Life Program." The pantries provide more than 145,000 bags of groceries annually to low-income Angelenos who live with HIV/AIDS and chronic hunger.
"This is truly a landmark investment in our work," says Craig E. Thompson, the agency's executive director. "It's impossible to overstate the impact of this gift on our ability to provide first-rate care, including nutritional support, to the 10,000 clients we serve annually. Through the creation of this endowment, Bob and Lois North acknowledge the reality we face: Thirty years in, the need for strong and stable HIV/AIDS care programs is greater than ever - and we're still likely decades away from a vaccine or a cure."
The Norths have a long history in the food-service industry. The couple created a successful network of food trucks that traversed Southern California for decades, making thousands of stops to offer lunch to workers at job sites across the region.
In 1962, Bob and Lois celebrated the birth of their son, Vance. In the early 1990s, Vance embarked on a successful modeling career and quickly became prominent in the West Hollywood social scene. But in 1995, at age 33, his health abruptly began to fail.
"I remember [Vance] came to visit us on a Saturday and left on Sunday. Everything was fine," Bob North recalls. "The next week, we found out he was hospitalized, and by that Friday, he was gone. We were absolutely stunned." But it wasn't long until Bob and Lois would decide to transform their personal tragedy into an extraordinary act of personal philanthropy. "Before she died [in 2007], Lois and I decided that we would create an endowment for APLA," Bob says, "because Vance had such tremendous compassion for those around him. We wanted to make sure that his legacy lived on within the community that he cared so much about.
"As a parent, losing one's child is the greatest tragedy," Bob adds. "But this endowment will allow Vance's legacy to live on for many years to come."
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the United States, provides bilingual direct services, prevention education and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. With more than 30 years of service, APLA is a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national and global reach. For more information, visit apla.org.