Volunteers dish on a reason to eat

Dine out for Life supports local non-profit and resources for those with HIV.

Franki Hanke, Senior Reporter

This year, April 25 marks the 25th year of Dine Out for Life in Minnesota. The area-wide event is facilitated by The Aliveness Project with restaurants participating across the metro.

The Aliveness Project is a nonprofit organization and community center that supports those living with HIV with community building, wellness services, meals, therapies, case management and other resources. Every year, more than 1,900 people utilize Aliveness’s support.

Dine out for Life provides an easy way to support that mission.

All day, Thursday April 25, participating restaurants donate a portion of their profits, up to 100 percent, to The Aliveness Project, allowing diners to support the mission with a meal out. At restaurants, diners have an opportunity to give an additional cash or check donation.

In order to make the event possible, ambassadors volunteer to represent The Aliveness Project at each of the restaurants to inform diners and to collect additional cash donations. Some volunteer in memory of someone they lost.

“I’ve been volunteering since 1996 back when I was in college,” Amanda Tempel said. “It’s important to me as I lost friends to the disease [HIV] and saw how interventions could impact quality of life and care.”

For some, Dine out for Life is a chance for education.

“I participate because HIV/AIDS is often treated like a disease that doesn’t have an impact anymore,” Rob Warmboe said. “For younger gays, AIDS is almost treated like an annoyance, rather than a lifelong disease that has a serious impact on [their] health. DOFL offers an opportunity to put HIV/AIDS out there and remind people that the disease still exists.”

Many ambassadors, including Hamline business professor Dave Berg, volunteer annually for the event. Berg and his partner have been involved for seven years.

“If we’re not working out as ambassadors, we’ll typically go eat,” Berg said. “We’re happy to support a good cause.”

Alongside all the benefits of the event, it is just a good excuse to go dine out and support both a local restaurant and a non-profit.

“There’s a nice energy about it,” Berg said. “It’s a nice side benefit.”

Plus, as a business professor, Berg was compelled to remind that while making an additional donation directly during the event is the norm, that donation is tax deductible.

Last year, 40,000 people dined out and raised over $240,000. This year, the goal is to raise $260,000. For those wanting to support that goal, there is a long list of restaurants participating including five who are donating 100 percent of their profits for the event. Berg and his partner frequently visit LUSH in south Minneapolis.

To stick to St. Paul, Augustine’s is the only restaurant donating for breakfast. While for lunch and dinner there are numerous options at varying donation percentages. To pick a place to dine out, visit their website: diningoutforlife.com/city/minneapolis-st-paul-greater-mn/.