Story and photos by Sarah Crookall
The annual event called A Taste for Life is held throughout Ontario to raise HIV and AIDS awareness with a dining experience. Restaurants that participated in the event donated 25 per cent of the night’s proceeds to help individuals affected by AIDS and HIV.
Downtown Oshawa’s Stuttering John’s, The Table and the Thirsty Monk participated in the charitable event. Within walking distance of each another, each restaurant shared a unique atmosphere, menu options and live entertainment for the cause.
“It’s just like going out and having dinner with no extra cost,“ said Mark Hamman, Manager of Education Services for AIDS Durham. In working with and teaching people about HIV and AIDS, Hamman sees the organization’s impact first hand. “We’re there almost like a second family for people in many cases,” he said.
Seating was full at all three locations with special guests hosting and entertaining the evening. Dinner at Stuttering John’s was hosted by Councillor Amy England with musicians Gibbran and Tamsynn-Lee. Across the street, The Table seated Rotary hosts with music courtesy of Tam Duong. Meanwhile the Thirsty Monk welcomed BE Communication’s Tamara and Kevin LeClair. Actor Ryan Carnes made a special appearance to all three locations.
“Anything we can do to support our community is a great cause,” said Antoine Albis, manager of the Thirsty Monk. This year marked the pub’s fourth year of involvement in the event.
With a goal of raising $10,000 through A Taste for Life, the non-profit organization also accepted donations. Contributors could enter a draw to win four VIA Rail tickets to Montreal, a deluxe stay at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto or a weekend trip at Bayview Wildwood Resort near Muskoka.
Though each restaurant had a great turnout, the event could use more support. “We’re hoping restaurants will come on board because it’s all about helping the community and the money stays here in Durham,“ said Hamman.
Sean Lockhart, Director of Development for AIDS Durham says proceeds from A Taste for Life will go to practical services in Durham Region including wellness, the volunteer driver program, and the food and vitamin banks. “It’s been great to see the community come together,” he said.