Dining IN For Life

Looking over the past three years of my blog, it’s around this time every April that I write you, thoughtful reader, to encourage you to take part in an annual charity event that benefits people like me.

No, not lily-livered liberals who think that a government’s first and most important job is to provide for its citizens no matter how irresponsibly any one of those citizens has behaved and who think it is immoral to expect people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps when they haven’t got boots; not annoying pedants who will condescendingly explain to you in blog posts that the first known use of the rather odd phrase “lily-livered” from the last semicolon delimited part of this rather long yet grammatically correct sentence begging for the sweet relief of a minor and seemingly insignificant piece of punctuation called a “period” to bring it to a close was in 1605 and derived from the medieval belief that the liver being the seat of courage evincing the pale color of the lily flower indicated such a person had no blood in their liver and therefore had no courage denoting a coward; not people who would go out of their way spending almost ten minutes crafting that last bit just to squeeze in the rather useless bit of trivia about the origin of a phrase; not people that thought it genuinely would be great fun to try and write a lengthy, paragraph-long sentence that was, after all, grammatically correct when they started but slowly beginning to realize its gotten out of hand; not people actively resisting the urge to go look up the etymology of the phrase “out of hand” not because that wouldn’t be interesting but because they are desperately looking for a way out of the paragraph-long sentence that isn’t anticlimactic and disappointing; not people who had Ms. Cugini for honors English at their private Catholic high school and added this bit to acknowledge that if there is one thing Catholics do right it is education; and not people cottoning to the idea that the point will probably be lost soon, if it isn’t already, if they go on much longer particularly because they want to go research “cottoning to” so they can satisfy their hunch that it probably originated in the cotton-producing antebellum southeast of the United States and probably bears some relation to the American original sin of slavery.

By “people like me,” I mean people living with HIV and AIDS.  And I could have just said that, but where’s the fun in that?  And Ms. Cugini would have a cow if she knew I routinely begin sentences with conjunctions like “and,” an unforgivable transgression in her book.

By now you know, and if you don’t haven’t you been paying attention here, here, and here? you malodorous dolt, that it was an ingenious volunteer at Action Wellness in Philadelphia that came up with a simple idea in 1991 at the height of another pandemic, the AIDS pandemic, to help those impacted by that horrible illness through local service organizations which were often short on cash by directing much needed funds where they could be put to good use.  It was so simple — encourage people to go out to eat in their favorite restaurant, presuming said restaurant was participating… that’s it.  The restaurants would donate a percentage of their profits from that one day, known as the “Dining Out for Life” day, to a local organization, identified in advance, that was addressing the AIDS crisis either through testing and prevention, community awareness and education, or direct services to those infected and suffering.

It was, and remains, a huge success.  We in the HIV/AIDS community didn’t have governors holding daily televised briefings on the crisis, presidents whingeing about how they don’t get enough credit for their “beautiful" and “timely” efforts at keeping the American public safe, and a Department of the Treasury sending out money to help.  By and large we had to go it alone, and Dining Out for Life helped fund the grassroots, community-driven response to the AIDS epidemic.  Last year there were 49 Dining Out For Life cities participating across North America. 2,459 restaurants participated, and with the support of 4,000 volunteers and 400,000 diners, more than $4 million was raised to support local HIV services.  With the exception of a minuscule administrative fee of $1,150, all money raised in a given city stays in that city to provide much needed services to people living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS, and in 2019 the top fundraising restaurant — two years running — was Spencer's Restaurant here in my town of Palm Springs, California, which raised $35,000 dollars in one day by simply serving food, with that money and monies raised from other Coachella Valley restaurants totaling $307,000 dollars going to Desert AIDS Project, a non-profit serving the HIV/AIDS community where many of my friends are clients, relying on DAP for everything from vouchers to buy food at the grocery store, to health care and mental health services, to ADAP (the AIDS Drug Assistance Program which helps people be able to afford their medication, without which they would die).


We are all impacted by the coronavirus, especially those of us with weakened immune systems due to AIDS.  And the facts show that social distancing is working, so this is no time to run out to your favorite restaurant, even for a great cause like the annual Dining Out for Life Day.  This year, things are being done a little differently.  This is still incredibly important.

First, find your city on the Dining Out for Life website by clicking on “FIND YOUR CITY” in the upper-lefthand corner.  Your local event’s page will indicate the Dining Out for Life date and how it is being observed in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.  Some restaurants are selling gift cards on that day to be used later when social distancing eases-up, others are donating proceeds from delivery and take-out orders; some are doing both.

Please patronize the restaurants on your local Dining Out for Life Day.  Lives depend on it.

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