A Reason to Dine event to raise funds for HIV/AIDS preventionWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Russell Axon, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
Toledoans will soon have the opportunity to help fight HIV and AIDS just by eating out.
A Reason to Dine will see three local restaurants donate part of their proceeds to help fund HIV and AIDS-related services and prevention programs in Toledo on World AIDS Day.
On Dec. 1, part of the bill for customers who dine at Pam’s Corner, 116 10th St.; Briarfield Cafe, 3220 Briarfield Blvd., Maumee; or Ferdos Mediterranean Restaurant, 3065 W. Bancroft St., will go directly to local services for the community. Those severices include free HIV testing, advocacy programs, and educational and preventative programs for teens and adults.
The annual fundraiser is hosted by the AIDS Resource Center (ARC) of Ohio, a nonprofit that provides local support to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Special Events Director Lisa Grigsby said the event helps bring a more focused awareness to a global issue.
“We need to have conversations in our community about [HIV/AIDS], and what better way to have a conversation than over a meal?” she said. “This our step out into Toledo to say, ‘Hey, we need to have more people aware, we need to bring new friends to the organization, and have people talking about this.”
This year will be the first time A Reason to Dine is held in Toledoafter originating in Columbus six years ago. The annual fundraiser garnered $6,000 last year and typically hosts about 15 restaurants in Columbus, Grigsby said.
Grigsby said she hopes to eventually replicate that success in Toledo, adding that the restaurants also benefit from the event.
“We’ll have dining ambassadors, which means some of our staff and supporters will work on bringing groups out to have a meal at one of those restaurants involved so that the restaurants get to see some business from it,” she said. “It’s a fundraiser as well as a friendraiser.”
Grigsby said the nonprofit makes a point to recruit local restaurants so that every dollar stays in the community. The restaurants also get to choose what percentage of their profits they want to donate. Pam’s Corner is donating 25 percent and Briarfield Cafe and Ferdos are donating 10 percent, according to the event’s website.
Grigsby said any restaurateurs interested in participating can still sign up at ARC Ohio’s website.
Grigsby said ARC Ohio always planned to bring the event to Toledo.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, Lucas County has the fifth highest rate of HIV-positive cases in the state with almost 900 people diagnosed as of 2013.
Grigsby said preventive education is extremely important because the perception of HIV and AIDS has changed.
“Back in the ’80s, if somebody had AIDS it was a death sentence. The good news is that we’ve made so much progress in the medications that are available that if we can test and diagnose somebody and get them into care right away, their life expectancy will be near normal now. You don’t see people dying of AIDS — for the most part in America — because we have the ability to help them.
“Unfortunately, what we are still seeing are new infections, and half of those infections are in 13 to 24-year-olds. So what we’re now realizing is there’s a whole new generation who never remember AIDS as a fatal disease because in their lifetime it hasn’t been. It’s not at the top of the mind anymore.”
To that end, Grigsby said ARC Ohio focuses on prevention and also assists with all aspects of treatment, like assigning those with HIV a social worker, finding them housing or getting them proper medical coverage.
“If we test somebody, we will hold their hand through any of the processes they need to make sure they are getting the appropriate care,” Grigsby said.