On April 16, Triad Health Project (THP) kicked off its signature fundraising event, Dining for Friends, with a Launch Party at Bites & Pints Gastro Pub. The evening’s festivities began with a special VIP cocktail reception for past Dining for Friends hosts and sponsors. VIPs were treated to heavy hors d’oeuvres created by Chef Kris Fuller of Crafted fame, along with cocktails fashioned especially for Dining for Friends. The public joined in by participating in a Bite’s & Pints percentage night for THP, with a portion of food sales donated to the organization.
As Dining for Friends enters its 28th year, THP is restructuring the event as a year-round, rather than a seasonal, opportunity for supporters to raise money and boost public awareness of the battle against HIV/AIDS in the Triad area. In prior years, supporters staged their Dining for Friends parties during a single-month period in the spring, often May or June, with some having elaborate themes and costumes. Diners would then gather for a finale at a local venue to tally up moneys raised at the individual parties and celebrate the united front of the community in fighting AIDS. In consultation with long-time hosts, THP decided the time was right for an extended year-round calendar for Dining for Friends, providing flexibility for hosts with schedule conflicts and fostering tie-ins to a myriad of seasonal and holiday themes.
Dining for Friends is a creative, enjoyable way to support a vital cause that has received far too little attention in recent years. Though the nature of the epidemic has changed since Dining for Friends began nearly three decades ago, HIV still has a harsh impact in Guilford County. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, as of 2016, Guilford County had 2,501 residents diagnosed and living with HIV, with 138 new cases reported that year. This is the third highest rate in the state, with Mecklenburg and Wake Counties ranked first and second, respectively. HIV and AIDS continues to disproportionately impact people of color and those living in poverty, driven by systemic racism and wealth disparities that combine to negatively impact access to quality health care and other resources. This is reflected in THP’s client population, which, while diverse, is 80% African American, correlating directly with national demographic trends in HIV infection rates. Data from the US Census Bureau records the rate of poverty in Guilford County at 17.6%, a significantly higher level than the national rate of 12.7%. Among THP clients, 83% are living with incomes at or below the Federal Poverty Level, including 31% with no income at all. It is not surprising then, that the majority of THP clients seek services with the organization because they are experiencing significant, complex barriers to accessing medical care. They also often require support in obtaining government assistance, housing, or employment.
Nearly 10% of THP’s funding is raised by Dining for Friends hosts and their guests, making it possible to serve hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS with case management services, and preventing new infections with education events and free HIV/STI testing that reaches over 2,000 people each year who are most at risk for the disease. Our supporters make a difference, and you can make a difference too. Be part of Dining for Friends this year. Throwing a party is easy and fun, and you’ll be helping to end HIV and AIDS in your community. Get started by clicking here: Dining for Friends 2018
PHOTOS FROM THE 2018 DINING FOR FRIENDS LAUNCH PARTY