The powerful force of community
Published Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 in issue 1165
As the date for this year’s Dining Out for Life® rapidly approaches, it’s hard to believe that this is just our fourth year producing this event in San Diego. In that short time period, this day – this year on Thursday, April 29 – has become such a powerful addition to our community.
Dining Out for Life® offers each of us an opportunity to come together in community to support efforts to slow the tide of HIV. It lets us do what we can to make a difference, and to be engaged and part of a larger community of people all committed to doing the same. While different than AIDS Walk in that we aren’t all together in the same place at the same time, there is a similar feeling to the day of Dining Out, a positive energy and excitement of people throughout the San Diego coming together in common purpose.
The growth and success of this event have been tremendous – in our first year we were thrilled to have the participation of more than 40 local establishments. The following year, we had more than 50, and last year we topped 80. This year we set an ambitious goal of 100 restaurants, bars and coffee shops, and I am proud to say we’ve met that goal thanks to the tireless efforts of event manager, Donnie Luehring, and the generosity of our local businesses.
In San Diego, participating businesses will donate a minimum of 25 percent of their food and liquor sales, and two of our supporting businesses have committed to contributing 50 percent of their sales – Mariposa Ice Cream and West Coast Tavern.
Even better news is that our efforts in San Diego are multiplied exponentially, as we are part of an international effort that brings together approximately 3,000 restaurants in more than 55 cities across the United States and Canada. On this day, all the participating businesses agree to donate a percentage of their day’s sales to a local HIV/AIDS organization. Here in San Diego, The San Diego LGBT Community Center’s HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs benefit from our local Dining Out for Life® event.
Dining Out for Life® is a win-win-win proposition. Our participating establishments enjoy increased business on this day, The Center’s HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs benefit and everyone who participates and/or volunteers feels great about contributing to an important and meaningful cause. We simply could not produce this event without the incredible contributions of our volunteers, so thanks to each of them as well.
The Center remains focused on our HIV/AIDS services and programs with a strong sense of urgency because this epidemic continues to claim the lives of too many community members. Every day in San Diego County, one person is diagnosed with AIDS. Not tested positive for HIV, but diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. Every day we are dealing with more people who desperately need services.
Along with these new infections, there are more and more people living with HIV, and thankfully they are living longer. It’s important to find ways to ensure that all people living with HIV/AIDS have the programs and services they need, and that we continue to work to prevent the spread of the disease. Dining Out for Life® is one way for us to help make that happen.
The Center is often the first place people call or go to when they need information and services related to HIV/AIDS. It’s the place where many come for HIV testing, for information and for help changing practices that leave them at risk. It’s the place where many come for the counseling services that can help them adjust to a new diagnosis or help them make the changes that can keep them safe or in medical care.
We hope San Diegans will help continue to make these resources available by participating in Dining Out for Life® on April 29. Just by going out for a meal (or two or three), coffee or drinks, people can have a good time and make a real difference. We thank you for supporting our local businesses and The Center’s HIV/AIDS services and for showing all those impacted by HIV/AIDS how much you care.
Getting all those restaurants, bars and coffee shops signed up was just the first step – we need your participation to make this year’s event a success. Please join us on Thursday, April 29. Dine out, fight AIDS!
To get a listing of all the participating restaurants or for more information, you can go to www.TheCenterSD.org or www.diningoutforlife.com/sandiego. You can also become a fan of the event on Facebook.