The cycle of poverty can be brutal, and impoverished people are consumed with worry about where their next meal will come from. A small respite can go a long way.
A Slice of Hope does just that, creating small moments of joy in homeless shelters, kitchens, and missions through pizza parties. The shelters are filled with hot pizza donated and made with love by local pizzerias as live music flows throughout the building.
A Slice of Hope hosts numerous parties in just one week in 20 states from Arizona to Minnesota. This year will be from June 17 to 23 with an added location: Calvary Downtown Outreach in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Slice of Hope is seeking partnership with local pizzerias in Las Vegas to help provide at the shelter on Saturday, June 22, at noon.
The logistics are straightforward: the shelters inform the organization ahead of time how many guests will be there, and the organization then orders a little more than the number of guests.
“Just like in any pizza party, you get to have as much pizza as you wish. Many pizzerias have been helping us for many years. They take extra time and effort to create pizzas with love and passion, as they too are a part of A Slice of Hope," said the founder of the organization, Obaid Kadwani.
For 12 years, Kadwani brought joy and respite to the needy across the nation. A successful entrepreneur and the host of numerous entertainment shows on the national TV network, Namaste America, Kadwani remembers his humble childhood in Mumbai, India and the mean streets of Bronx, New York City in the 1970s.
“We had nothing, and the Bronx of that era wasn’t the safest neighborhood in America,” he recalled to PMQ in 2015. “When I looked around, I realized everyone I knew was one paycheck away from disaster. I saw many of my classmates and their families fall off the ledge, economically… When you’re not sure if you’re going to have a roof over your head or a meal on your table, the stress is incredible. You don’t want to get out of the bed. Think about what happens when these children of poverty grow up and start having children of their own. Multiply that stress by 100. Add in the easy availability of drugs and alcohol, and it’s easy to understand why many folks in shelters feel their whole life is falling apart.”
“A Slice of Hope has changed my life, just as it has changed the lives of others. I’ve learned that, if you empower people, you can make a change. One person can make a difference… You can’t solve everyone’s problems, but we can offer encouragement and bring a smile to someone. A simple kind word, a gentle touch, a caring smile can make a person under stress want to fight on.”
Now he is the driving force behind A Slice of Hope which has hosted over 596 parties since inception in 2007.
Kadwani’s goal for this year is to continue expanding across the nation to bring local pizzerias and musicians to the shelters.
“We want to get as many pizzerias involved as possible across the country,” he said. “We want to reach as many people all across the country as well so that everyone can realize that we have the power to make a happy moment for a person in need. Together, we can make the world a kinder and more caring place.”
A Slice of Hope brings a personal touch to its pizza parties, helping bring the community together.
‘We always hire local musicians for each shelter as one of our missions is that while Slice of Hope has become a nationwide project, it is still a community-oriented grassroots project as well,” Kadwani said.
One of the examples of its community engagement is a longtime volunteer, Sunita Sukhraj.
“She became a party host 10 years ago in Florida,” Kadwani said. “She was a mom raising two girls. She said she wanted to become a role model for her girls and show them how blessed they are in life. She then started a Giving Circle where her friends could donate for Parties of Hope in Orlando. For many years now, her Giving Circle has been raising funds for three parties. Sunita, her daughters who are almost in college now, her friends, and supporters come out to these Parties of Hope, put decorations in the shelter and make sure that all the shelter guests feel the love and support.”
“There are so many donors and supporters like Sunita that make this grassroots project possible through all the years,” Kadwani said.
Sunita Sukhraj joined because “it was such a simple and a small way to extend kindness and love to others.”
“I wanted to help make a difference to humanity, to the lives of others,” she said. “And so, I reached out to Obaid two years after he started throwing pizza parties and asked for his help in finding a location to throw a pizza party in Orlando.”
Sukhraj said she has hosted pizza parties at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission in downtown Orlando; the Christian Service Center in West Orange; Boys Town Central Florida in Oviedo; and Word on the Street Homeless Ministries in East Orlando.
Kadwani names another example of community impact: Peter Anastasi of Pats Pizzeria in Dundalk, Maryland.
“We met Peter online through PMQ Pizza Magazine about four years ago,” Kadwani said. “He read the PMQ article and wanted to help. Since then, Peter and his family and friends come out to a huge, special Party of Hope each year in Bea Gaddy Women and Children’s Shelter in Baltimore. Delicious pizzas are provided by Pats Pizzeria, and there is face painting, many games, and great music for the underprivileged families and children. We are so grateful to Peter Anastasi who truly goes above and beyond to make a special Party of Hope.”
Kadwani added: “There are so many stories of supporters, donors, pizzerias that I wish I could share them all. Without each and every one of our supporters, we couldn’t do A Slice of Hope.”
Interested pizzerias can reach out to A Slice for Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org.