With so many delicious choices around Tulsa, the eternal question of "What's for dinner?" can sometimes be a difficult one. For one day, though, it'll be easier to make the decision about eating somewhere great. Dining Out for Life is a national foodie festival of sorts where local restaurants lend a helping hand by donating 25 percent of their proceeds to AIDS/HIV outreach organizations.
In Tulsa, Dining Out for Life is in its sixth year and benefits Health Outreach Prevention Education (HOPE), a non-profit organization that offers anonymous and safe testing for people who are need of testing or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. In addition HOPE also provides valuable education about prevention and reaches out to under-served communities.
"HOPE grew from work that various volunteers and non-profits had been doing since the mid-'80s focusing on free HIV tests, educating the community, and connecting individuals to other resources," said the eventls coordinator, Jeremy Simmons.
It's not a subject that is easy to talk about, but that is one of the things the HOPE foundation is trying to change. Many people are affected by HIV/AIDS and other detrimental diseases, such as Hepatitis C, and many times don't have access to resources that keep them healthy -- or keep them alive.
On Thursday, April 26, proceeds from eager diners and generous restaurants will go to thousands of Oklahomans who need proper treatment, counsel and information about how to protect themselves and others.
HOPE offers education about prevention, but it also offers solace. It saves lives and connects individuals to resources that might not otherwise be available to them. The impact HOPE has in Oklahoma is palpable.
"In 2011 we gave 2,221 HIV tests and 718 Hepatitis C tests," said Simmons. "We are most known for our testing services but there are thousands of other people we help throughout the year through education classes, public speaking, training sessions, and over the phone. In addition we operate a statewide HIV/STD hotline."
Dining Out for Life is one of HOPE's biggest fundraisers, bringing in around $20,000 each year that goes toward providing individual testing and supporting its outreach efforts. The success for this event is thanks to about 20 Tulsa restaurants that donate 25 percent of their revenue for the evening to the organization.
"Downtown restaurants have been the most responsive over the years," Simmons said, "and if you are eating downtown that night you probably have at least a 50/50 chance of being at our fundraiser, but we do have some Cherry Street, Brookside, and 71st Street options as well."
Newcomers to the line-up are Andolini's on Cherry Street, Hey Mambo, Smoke and The Tavern, with restaurants like India Palace and The White Lion Pub out south. Most restaurants will be fundraising during their dinner hours, but some will use their lunchtime rush to raise valuable dollars. For a complete list of the 21 restaurants that are participating and more details about the event, visit hopetesting.org. HOPE volunteers will be at local restaurants if diners wish to make personal donations to the cause as well.
"It is so much fun to not only promote HOPE's cause but some wonderful local establishments," said Simmons.
So Thursday night, invite all your friends to dinner and raise money for an important cause by simply raising your forks at one of Tulsa's delicious local eateries.
The following restaurants are participating:
Andolini's, India Palace, Joebot's Coffee Bar and KEO Asian Cuisine
Baxter's, Caz's Chowhouse, Cosmo Cafe, Dalesandro's, Dilly Deli, El Guapo's Cantina, Elote Cafe, Fassler Hall, Hey Mambo, Joebot's Coffee Bar, Lambrusco'z to Go, James E.
McNellie's Public House, Mod's Coffee & Crepes, Shades of Brown, Smoke, The Tavern, The White Lion and Yokozuna
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