Dining Out for Life Is The Aliveness Project’s Largest Fundraiser

April 28 marks The Aliveness Project (TAP)’s 17th-annual hosting of Dining Out for Life, as well as TAP Director of Fundraising and Special Events Tim Marburger’s ninth year producing, in his words, “this fun day of dining out to benefit a great cause.??”

As Lavender goes to press, 167 restaurants are signed to participate in the event, offering 265 meals with breakfast, lunch, and dinner opportunities.

Sven Sungaard. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Participating restaurants are in Minneapolis and St. Paul; Twin Cities suburbs such as Champlin, Edina, Fridley, Maple Grove, Maplewood, and White Bear Lake; and Duluth and Rochester.

Crucial to the event are Dining Out for Life Ambassadors, who attend each meal at each restaurant.

As Marburger explains, “On the day of the event, they welcome everyone, visit with diners, and answer any questions about The Aliveness Project or Dining Out for Life. They register diners for great prize drawings, and ask for extra donations. It’s a big task, but so much fun—like throwing a dinner party, and not having to do the dishes.??”

TAP’s largest fundraiser, Dining Out for Life provided $161,000—about 14 percent—of the organization’s 2010 budget. Marburger is aiming for at least $170,000 this year.

Marburger points out, “This fundraiser helps us provide assistance to every program we provide: food shelf, integrative therapies, hot meals, case management, and so much more—and most certainly helps The Aliveness Project continue working in the black with no interruption or loss of services.?”

Cheryl Schweitzer, who began volunteering some 10 years ago, enthuses, “I have been an Ambassador at the Birchwood Café, which I love—the food and the desserts are awesome. My daughter, who is now 18, has been coming with me since we started volunteering.”

Ambassador Dana Munson shares, “I believe that the real work begins by getting your peers excited about wanting to participate in the event. I think once the event begins, it really is the job of the Ambassador to represent the organization in a professional manner. Every table needs to be greeted. Every table needs ‘I Ate’ stickers. Every table needs all the other supplemental materials. Every individual needs to feel as if they were part of a very special event, and that by participating they gave back to the community.”

First-timer Dr. Paul Shapiro, who will be one of the event’s new “Super Ambassadors,” notes, “Certain restaurants and Ambassadors are donating prizes, and for a $50 contribution, one will be entered in that restaurant’s drawing.”

Shapiro and partner Lee Roehl will be at Lucia’s, combining their $100 Lucia’s Gift Certificate with the Jungle Theater’s $320 season tickets for two.

Marburger emphasizes, “Dining out for Life helps The Aliveness Project keep the food on the table, the integrative therapies happening, and helps put 46 tons of food out through the food shelf. Many of our members are in great need on many levels. Each person can make a difference by doing something ‘simple,’ like being an Ambassador and/or dining out that day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Visit www.aliveness.org for dining sites and updates

Sven Sungaard reprises as the Face of Dining out for Life

KARE-11 meteorologist Sven Sundgaard is in his fifth year with Dining Out for Life.

Sundgaard, who has been pleased to see that participation in the event has grown, even in the down economy, says, “That’s very encouraging, and really shows the spirit of giving and caring among our people here in the Twin Cities.”

Dining Out offers opportunities for education, as Sundgaard points out: “There are new people and folks not there for Dining Out for Life, and they’re very interested in learning some things they didn’t know [about the GLBT community]. Also, recipients get to see just how much the community cares.”

As you dine, try to spot a passing meteorologist, as Sundgaard shares, “I will be at several restaurants—some 20 to 30—briefly, to thank people for coming out. The list is kept top-secret, though. I don’t even know it myself!”

Sundgard remarks, “I look at the day as almost a holiday—a day to remember how help changes things for the better for everyone. It’s a celebration of life.”

Are You Being Served? Dining Out for Life Hosts Share

Bambu Asian Cuisine
1715 Beam Ave.,
(651) 329-4070

Owner Yin Thong says, “I was born and raised in Vietnam. I came to this country in 1992 as an immigrant. Lutheran Social Service sponsored me from a Hong Kong refugee camp, and placed me in a foster home with my foster parents, John and Patty Shrake, whom I lived with until I graduated from Hamline University. Both of my parents are Chinese.

“I opened Bambu in 2007, when I realized I needed to create work for my younger sisters, brothers, sister-in-law, and niece soon to be joining me, and my parents, whom I sponsored here.

“Participating in an event like Dining Out for Life helps me to realize how lucky I am to have good health, a good mind, and a strong body. It also makes me become more aware of the community that I live in, and want to do more to help those who are less fortunate than me.”

Birchwood Café

3311 E. 25th St., Mpls.
(612) 722-4474

Owner Tracy Singleton enthuses, “I always look forward to this night. The mood is one of generosity! There’s a great energy. We’re incredibly busy. Yet, all the customers are happy, and patient to wait for a table. I love it that we have had the same volunteer, [Ambassador Cheryl Schweitzer], every single year. She has so much fun greeting our guests, and telling them about the event and The Aliveness Project.”

Elsie’s Restaurant, Bar, and Bowling Center
729 Marshall St. NE, Mpls.
(612) 378-9701

Event Planner Paula Compton points out that Elsie’s will participate in all three meals: “It’s a really good cause, and lets people know Elsie’s is not just a bowling alley! We offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner; a full-service bar; and a banquet space for up to 180 guests. Add bowling, and we have it all! We are excited about the event, and hope it goes even better this year.

Toast Wine Bar and Café
415 N. 1st St., Mpls.
(612) 333-4305

Scott Davis, Guy in the Kitchen, reports that at Toast, Dining Out for Life has been popular, and, as other venues have found, some visitors become regulars. On one memorable Dining Out evening, he recalls, “Sven [Sundgaard] came in with his family, along with Miss Minnesota” Suggestions? Davis requests, “Please call for reservations. We’ve been filling up.”

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