The change had a significant effect on fundraising. Typically, Dining Out for Life — which first launched in 1991 — fetches around $200,000. Over the past two years, that number has dropped to between $40,000 and $50,000, according to Burns.
“We hope this is the year we come back,” he said.
Money raised from the event helps fill gaps that aren’t covered by government contracts Action Wellness receives, Burns said. This includes the group’s buddy program, which pairs volunteers with customers to provide “practical and emotional support,” from transportation to buying food.
“I always say that’s the heart and soul of the agency, because it’s really about bringing the community together to care for each other,” Burns said, adding that the program was especially critical during the pandemic, when volunteers stayed in touch with clients by phone. calls or in-person visits once the vaccine has become available.
Burns is thrilled to be back in person this year. Dinner at Restaurant For Life will be held on April 28. There is a list of participating restaurants on the Action Wellness website. People can also make direct donations to the group or participate in a silent auction.
Although Dining Out for Life was first launched in Philadelphia, it has since expanded nationwide. Cities across the United States and Canada will host their own fundraisers this month.