“I am the face of Dining Out for Life,” says ambassador, Sara Poplau.
It’s the efforts of Poplau, and thousands of others around the country, who give Dining Out For Life a face and a smile while restaurant patrons dine out to raise funds for their local AIDS Service Organizations.
Poplau, a Minnesota native, was drawn to the HIV/AIDS cause at a young age. “In college, one of my friends was in a situation where she was exposed to the virus,” Poplau says. “We did a lot of self-education, but [10-15 years ago], there wasn’t a whole lot of information, except with the [AIDS Services] Organizations.”
It was at the AIDS Service Organization that Poplau became connected with volunteering for HIV/AIDS causes. “They were so kind and helpful, I wanted to give back.”
“At my core, I volunteer to give back for what I got, and making sure that other people get the same thing when they’re in a stressful situation.” Now, Populau volunteers for the Aliveness Project in Minneapolis, MN.
Poplau is involved in several HIV/AIDS awareness efforts in addition to Dining Out for Life. She is the president of the Minnesota Latino HIV/AIDS network, where she works with other volunteers to provide testing throughout the city, and HIV/AIDS education in both Spanish and English.
As a volunteer with the Aliveness Project, Poplau participates in a Christmas basket program every year. “[Donors] can adopt a person or family” to purchase Christmas gifts for, and then Poplau, along with her father, deliver the baskets. “Just seeing the looks on some people’s faces who don’t have anyone to celebrate Christmas with, or the extra income,” Poplau says, “it’s just so heartwarming—they’re so excited.”
This year will be Poplau’s sixth year volunteering at Dining Out for Life. “It’s so fun; it’s like a party environment,” Poplau says. “Go out to eat, drink wine, eat dessert—live it up. How could you not want to be a part of that?”