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Why We Give Back: Community Support at Carmine’s

When we took over Carmine’s nearly ten years ago, I was surprised by the number of solicitations for donations we received. It was our standard practice at the time to give a gift certificate to just about anyone who asked. But I could see that this was not a sustainable practice and questioned the true value of these donations from a both a philanthropic and marketing perspective.

Then the recession hit in 2008, really changing the financial realities for many people. Our business declined substantially as well. As the dust was settling, I realized that we were still in good shape and felt a need to support the local community in some way and to share our good fortune with others. My wife and I debated several ideas with a real focus on how we might “feed” people in need.

This led me to the head of The Delores Project. She agreed to meet with me and hear our “brilliant” idea. I wanted to open the restaurant for one day a year and feed anyone for free. She politely told me this was not only a bad, potentially chaotic plan, but that this one day of helping would not spread very far. So our plan evolved. We chose to select as many charitable partners as we thought we could support and then design specific ways that we might help each one.

Fast forward to today. We have used our restaurant space for special gatherings, catered events, and hosted dining evenings where substantial portions of the proceeds are directed to our partners. Each fall, we entertain presentations from organizations that ask for our support. We are naturally drawn to certain types of organizations. Specifically, we have worked with groups dedicated to homelessness, children and schools. We try to determine if our support will be important to the recipient either financially or in a way that helps to build up an organization. We want to evaluate each organization for their ability to deliver to those in need and use our donation wisely.

This month, we are proud to support the work of two local organizations – Project Angel Heart and The Denver Waldorf School. On Tuesday, April 28, we are hosting a fundraising dinner for The Denver Waldorf School and will be donating at least 50% of the evening’s food sales to the school. My three children attended Waldorf Schools from preschool through high school, so l am acquainted with the wonderful work done by dedicated teachers in this system. Not only that, but The Denver Waldorf School moved back to our neighborhood in 2014 and is celebrating 40 years in Denver! We wish to support their continued growth and capacity to serve children.

Then on Thursday, April 30, we are joining over 250 restaurants throughout Denver and Boulder to participate in Dining Out for Life to support Project Angel Heart – a nonprofit whose mission is to deliver nutritious meals to Coloradans with life-threatening illnesses. Save the date to dine out with us and we’ll donate 25% of the evening’s food sales to Project Angel Heart!

We hope to see you soon, and thank you for your continued support.

-Brad Ritter, Owner