OCEAN CITY — Numbers for the 1st Annual Dine Out With Diakonia are in and organizers are calling the event a strong success; good news coming on the heels of several already successful weeks for the non-profit group.
“It was really well attended … It worked out for everyone,” said Diakonia Executive Director Claudia Nagle.
The newest project dreamed up by Diakonia’s events committee, Dine Out featured 26 local restaurants all contributing a portion of their sales or a flat donation on April 26 to the organization.
Eateries had the option of sponsoring Diakonia with either their lunch or dinner menus. Ten of the restaurants chose to go a step further and contribute a portion of their sales for the entire day.
In its first year, Dine Out was able to meet and break its $5,000 goal. As of Thursday morning, with a few restaurants still not added to the total, Dine Out has brought in $6,700.
Nagal said that she was proud of the positive response from the business community and impressed with the effort shown by Diakonia’s events committee.
“The committee did a great job,” she said.
Jaime Millhoff, a member of the committee, revealed that she and her colleagues had to scramble in order to work out arrangements with all 26 restaurants.
“We only had a committee of five that went out to divide and conquer Berlin and Ocean City,” she joked.
A small but dedicated force of volunteers has become a trademark for Diakonia. The organization currently has 90 volunteers total, though they are spread out across a variety of services, including operating Diakonia’s food pantry, housing shelter, educational classes, events, and several other branches.
“We have a very small staff and a modest budget,” said Nagle.
She added that Diakonia would “love to have more volunteers,” especially now, when the organization is concentrating on growing and expanding beyond its traditional boundaries.
“What Diakonia is, is a resource to people in need … we want to be seen as a resource,” said Nagle.
Being that resource means growing to meet the needs of the community, she continued. In the near future, Nagle hopes that Diakonia will be able to expand most of what it currently offers, especially in the form of job training, GED classes, parenting classes, budgeting workshops, and the like. While most of these are long-term goals, Nagle expects the growth of Diakonia to be noticeable and measurable in the next few years, with long-term planning already in the works.
“If you talk to me in six months, we’ll have some of that flushed out,” she said.
For now, Nagle said Diakonia will concentrate on running day-to-day services while searching for more volunteers and expanding on the fundraising programs already in place.
Nagal confirmed that Dine Out and a recently added, year-long 50/50 raffle, which will be drawn in December, will probably be the only two new regular events Diakonia participates in, at least for now.
“Our event calendar is getting kind of full…we’re really focusing on events we have,” she said.
In the immediate future, Millhoff hopes to beat the success of the 1st Annual Dine Out by doubling the number of restaurants involved.
“It costs a lot of money to keep this place running,” Millhoff said.
“If everyone gives a little, we’ll have enough,” added Nagle.