Dozens of HIV/AIDS agencies from around the world will be converging in South Florida for the very first time for the annual Dining Out For Life Conference.
Hosted by our very own Broward House (browardhouse.org?), the conference is being held at the Embassy Suites in sunny Fort Lauderdale from July 10 to 12. Sixty-seven agencies from around the world will be sending up to 150 service professionals to attend seminars every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the hotel. There, they will be participating in sessions with pharmaceutical agencies, social marketing and social media experts, receive tips on how to publicize the work their agencies do, and plan their next Dining Out For Life event.
“It’s a major, major undertaking of everybody coming together and exchange of ideas and what works and what doesn't work,” said Terry DeCarlo, director of marketing, public relations and events. “It’s just a great way for agencies to talk to each other and find out what other agencies are doing and getting ideas.”
Dining Out For Life (diningoutforlife.com) is an annual, one-night event where area restaurants open their doors to raise money for their local HIV/AIDS agency. Cities in the US and Canada participate, some raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Broward House took over handling the event in the Fort Lauderdale area last year, with 11 restaurants donating anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of their profits to the agency. The restaurants helped raise $12,500 and seven have already promised to take part in next year’s Dining Out For Life, the third Thursday in April.
During the conference, guests can discuss and learn how to promote their event to raise money for their agency to combat HIV/AIDS.
“I get to meet people who do the same thing that I do every single day. We sit down and we find out what works for them, what doesn’t work for them, trials, tribulations,” DeCarlo said.
This is his fifth year attending the conference. Last year, the conference was hosted in Nashville by Nashville Cares.
Not only is it a chance for HIV/AIDS agencies to get together to share ideas, but it’s also an opportunity for Fort Lauderdale to strut its stuff. Broward House put together a welcome package for guests, including a list of restaurants, bars, and activities to check out in the area.
Macy’s is supplying welcome bags and pharmaceutical companies pitched in to pay for dinners.
“Everybody is just gearing up and getting ready to welcome these people to the town. It’s a way to show off our town to these people,” DeCarlo said.
While DeCarlo has heard that guests are looking forward to coming down to Florida, land of sun, surf and tourists, it also is fitting because South Florida is unfortunately home to the largest number of new HIV cases in the country.
“We are still a hotbed of activity for HIV/AIDS,” DeCarlo said. “To have this … major HIV/AIDS conference right here in Fort Lauderdale, put the focus right here, does help us.”
Dining Out For Life is April 17, 2014. For more information, call Broward House at 954-522-4749 or go to diningoutforlife.com.