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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is at Dinnerfest and Taste of South End

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by Antoinette Weil
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AIDS Action Committee’s Taste of the South End

The Taste of the South End will bring together more than 40 of the area’s hottest restaurants in the Boston Center of the Arts, Cyclorama from 7-9:30 p.m. on March 5. Guests will sample unlimited food and drinks from local eateries, see live cooking demonstrations, take part in raffles and bid in silent auctions for everything from cookware to Caribbean getaways.

"Because the community in the South End is so supportive, it’s great to be able to host this event here and support local businesses while raising money for AIDS Action," said AAC’s Director of Fundraising Events Cathy Kujala.


The money raised through this event will go towards AAC, and more specifically, will help fund its MALE center, which is located in the South End. Here, they administer HIV testing for more than 1,000 people each year, providing preventative tools and information for those who test negative and health resources for those who test positive.

"The important thing to remember when supporting AIDS Action Committee is that we know that what we are doing works," said Kujala.


In the past decade, Massachusetts has seen a 53 percent decrease in new infections. This, Kujala affirmed, has equaled a savings of about $2 billion in health costs and thousands of people free of HIV/AIDS. Massachusetts has been the only state to do this, and part of the reason is the great work that AIDS Action and other Boston nonprofits have been doing.

These promising statistics can give way to a feeling that there is less urgency and HIV/AIDS is under control. But, despite the positive outlook, there has been a 40 percent increase in people living with HIV and AIDS due to advancements in medicine and better care, while at the same time government funding has dropped significantly. AAC hopes to be able to make up the gap in funding with their benefit events.


"We would never want to have to turn somebody away who came to AAC for help because we don’t have the money," said Kujala.

This is why Kujala, and AIDS Action, is hoping to raise about $120,000 with the Taste of the South End. It is anticipated that 700 people will attend the culinary extravaganza, and tickets are still on sale. The general admission price for the event is $100, which includes unlimited samplings of all the tasty cuisine and bids to win prizes from the top spots in the South End and beyond.


And if you feel like giving more, VIP tickets can be purchased for $150 and include everything listed above plus free champagne, early admittance to the event and three additional restaurants that only VIP ticket holders will have access to.

"My favorite thing about the event is that it’s a way to involve people who maybe never thought of supporting AIDS Action," said Kujala. "They come to this fun food event and are able to see and learn about our programming. They may be a one-time supporter, or as we hope, they’ll want to become more involved with the organization."


To purchase tickets for Dinnerfest, visit www.vpi.org. To purchase tickets for Taste of South End, visit www.aac.org/taste.


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