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Dining Out For Life®, Eat, Drink & Support by Caring

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CARES Dining Out For Life | KzooConnect

Are you looking for an excuse to get out with friends and family now that spring has arrived? If so reserve the date April 26th and make a plan and a difference in the community. You can do this by visiting one of the 36 supporting restaurants in Kalamazoo and the surrounding Southwest Michigan area that will be supporting CARES of Southwest Michigan with their fundraiser Dining Out For Life®.

Headed into its tenth year, this event raises funds for CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services), a non-profit that was established in 1985 by a group of volunteers looking to make a difference. Today they provide resources and life-sustaining services to 3,000+ individuals annually who are at high risk of the HIV infection.

The beauty of the event Dining Out For Life is that there is a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines and shops to select from, and on that day at least 25% of the food and beverage sales are donated back to CARES. But it gets better! Addie Lira, CARES Operations Assistant and Coordinator of the event shared, "We also have volunteers at the restaurants/shops to thank people for Dining Out For Life."

She went on to explain the volunteers she trains "really have a larger role as ambassadors who are available to answer questions about the programs and resources offered and to take donations."

Donating $25 or more to CARES that day will also get you a 20% off Tuesday discount card to one of the 21 restaurants and specialty shops participating to use from June 1-May 31, 2018 - all as a way to say thank you!

Still want to do more? Lira explains how simple it is to get involved on any level. "CARES is always looking for help to build the event so if an individual or business wants to make a bigger difference, they can volunteer or be one of the sponsors of the event.”

Not a bad way to be philanthropic and help those in need close to home!

CARES is the only community based non-profit AIDS organization serving eleven counties in SW Michigan. Lira got her start with the organization on the Prevention team that provides health education and testing. "I've always been passionate about education and clients rights especially as it pertains to the underserved populations."

In her current role and responsibilities, Lira expressed how she loves training volunteers and making sure they realize the difference they are making!

Removing the stigma behind HIV and educating clients and the community is what Lira continues to strive for, "People don't realize the amount of resources available."

CARES provides counseling, testing, education, and case management for anyone affected by HIV or AIDS. Case managers are available to assist clients with medical scheduling, transportation, insurance enrollment, housing assistance, and referrals ranging from food assistance programs to mental health care. CARES also provides services in the prevention of HIV.

Want to learn more about CARES and how they look to maximize the quality of life for all people affected by HIV? Visit www.CARESswm.org for more insight and information about the organization and resources available, as well as opportunities to volunteer or donate to CARES.

Spread the word and join the communities on April 26th for Dining Out For Life!

Pictured above are CARES staff members and volunteers Amy Brummett and Beth Haire-Lewis at 2017 Dining Out For Life event.

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