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April 05, 2013

Why Santorini Greek Kitchen gives back

This time of year, our days are filled with Dining Out for Life Ambassador trainings, last-minute preparations for one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, and lots of time spent communicating with our participating restaurants about the upcoming event. Indy's largest dining fundraiser is less than three weeks away, so this week, we got out and about in the city and delivered promo materials to all our restaurants so we can all get the word out. Lucky for us, Jeanette Sawi, co-owner of Santorini Greek Kitchen, had a few minutes to sit down with us and share why her restaurant continues to support The Damien Center via Dining Out for Life year after year after year.

A little background: In addition to serving up incredibly rich and flavorful Greek delicacies, Santorini is also one of our longest running Dining Out for Life participants. The event is in its 19th year, and Santorini has been on board for well over a decade. So why The Damien Center and why Dining Out?

Pre-Santorini, Jeanette was a nurse. While she was still a nursing student in Houston, TX, in the mid-1980s, Jeannette worked on the HIV/AIDS wing of a Houston hospital and saw the epidemic rear its ugly head on a daily basis. She saw people dying alone, hopeless and helpless, praying for a cure but knowing they wouldn't see one in their lifetime. So, as a nurse, she did her best to care for those with HIV, helping them live their last hours with dignity, showing them that no matter how stigmatized HIV was and would continue to be, she would continue to care. Incidentally, this was the objective of The Damien Center in its early days as well. When the agency was founded in 1987, at a time when little hope was on the horizon for a cure or better treatments, its staff and volunteers walked with people in their last days so they would know they were cared for until the end.

Today? Today, we are so fortunate to be helping people live instead of die. We are fortunate to see weekly and monthly breakthroughs in treatment and possible cures. We are fortunate to have 30+ HIV drugs on the market that do an exceptional job of saving lives. When Jeanette got into the restaurant business, she wanted to honor that part of herself that saw what she saw in Houston - the nurse, the caretaker. Supporting The Damien Center through Dining Out for Life is one (we think really generous) way that she gets to do that, and for this, we are so grateful.

We say our sincerest thanks to Jeanette and Santorini Greek Kitchen, which will be donating 50% of sales on April 25 back to The Damien Center and the local fight against HIV. Make a reservation at Santorini for April 25 by calling 317.917.1117. OPA!