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Break It Down: Michael Byrne Of ActionAIDS On Thursday’s Dining Out For Life

imageEven though he and his team are busy coordinating over 150 restaurants in the Delaware Valley, ActionAIDS’s development director, Michael Byrne, took a few minutes to give us some specifics about Dining Out For Life and how it works. Suffice it to say, on Thursday night, you have options. You can make a simple, philanthropic effort by simpling going out to eat at any number of restaurants, many of which you probably already love. This is the easiest way to give back to a community in need, and to support your local businesses doing good by being a willing participant. Here’s how it works.

PW: Can you give us the breakdown of what Dining Out For Life is all about?

Byrne: Dining Out for Life was created by an ActionAIDS volunteer 23 years ago. Twenty years ago, ActionAIDS sold the trademark for Dining Out for Life to Dining Out for Life International for $1. The event now takes place in over 60 cities across North America.

Money raised in any particular region stays in that region. All funds raised in Delaware Valley are used for HIV/AIDS services. Funds benefit HIV and AIDS services at ActionAIDS, AIDS Delaware, Family and Community Service of Delaware County, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA.

On one special day (the last Thursday in April), restaurants across the region donate 33 percent of their food sales for the day to much-needed services for thousands of men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS in the Delaware Valley.

We begin prospecting each year in October, but any restaurant that would like to participate can simply reach out to ActionAIDS at any time of the year, and we will make sure they are contacted and signed on to our great list.

So, ActionAIDS is the driving force behind Dining Out?

ActionAIDS created the event and has one of the larger, more successful Dining Out for Life events. As the founding organization, we have a permanent seat on the Dining Out for Life International Board of Directors.

What’s the financial breakdown? Where does the raised money go?

All funds are contractually obligated to be spent on HIV/AIDS services. Last year, we raised $245,000 in the Delaware Valley and over $4 million across North America, but funds raised in other cities stay in those cities benefiting their citizens living with HIV/AIDS.

Personally, what do you think is cool about the Dining Out campaign?

It would be another 10 years before I started working at ActionAIDS, but it was my favorite fundraiser that very first year 23 years ago. I thought it was a FABULOUS idea. Who doesn’t love to go out to eat? My friends and I jumped at the chance and had a great meal at Judy’s Cafe. It was packed, and you could feel love in the air. That feeling has not changed, in my heart, or in the restaurants that night. Everyone is out to make a difference . It is magical!

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