Pier has a long history in Los Angeles. After growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and in Brooklyn, she married and then relocated with her husband in the early 1950s to California, where she worked as an administrator in L.A. public elementary schools and raised three sons. When one of them, Nathaniel—a graduate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine who treated patients suffering from AIDS when doing so was still rare among his peers—himself succumbed to the disease in 1989, Pier was inspired to action as a way to channel her grief.
Pier regularly pitched in at potluck luncheons held in the AIDS ward of a San Fernando Valley hospital. At some point, her friend Rabbi Janet Marder of congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, who organized those events, told Pier about Nechama, her synagogue’s grassroots HIV/AIDS support network. Food hadn’t been on Nechama’s agenda, so in 1989, Pier joined with others in this circle of Jewish activists to add what they thought was an essential component of caring for the sick: bringing kosher meals to people who really needed them.