Local nonprofit adapting to hold pandemic-safe fundraiser to fight against HIV

Posted at 3:10 PM, Sep 09, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — During a typical year, AVOL would be turning to the community asking people to pack restaurants full, all in the name of ending HIV.

But of course, 2020 is not a typical year.

"It's been touch and go all year," said AVOL's executive director, Jon Parker.

This is the 11th year for Dining Out For Life, AVOL's biggest annual fundraiser. It is imperative for them to figure out how to make it happen, but in the age of COVID-19 and restrictions aplenty, they are happy to be doing it in whatever way they can.

"This year we have restaurants at reduced capacity, we have a lot of carryout options, it's just a different scenario," Parker said. "We're really emphasizing safety first. Wear your mask, dine out in small groups."

Being attuned to a serious virus is nothing new for AVOL, it has been part of their mission for over 30 years. The organization's goal is to eradicate HIV in Kentucky, and it is something they have still been working to do even amidst the pandemic.

It has been providing virtual services for those who are living with HIV and have even continued testing for HIV and Hepatitis C in a way we have become familiar with over these past few months.

"We've enacted, like COVID, drive-thru testing now where we can do it from the privacy of the person's own vehicle, " Parker explained.

To continue those services, AVOL knows it needs support both financially and otherwise, so they are still asking people to dine out this year, but to put safety first.

Parker requests people to abide by COVID guidelines, keep groups small and maybe get food to go. All efforts that can help combat not just one serious virus but two at the same time.

"More than raising money, Dining Out For Life really gives us the opportunity to communicate the importance of eradicating HIV in our community once and for all. We've been doing this for almost 40 years now, and it's about time, " Parker said.

Dining Out For Life is scheduled for Thursday.

For more information including participating restaurants, visit AVOL's website.