PITTSBURG — ”Sometimes you have to think small in order to accomplish big things.”
Nearly a year ago Pittsburg Rotary announced its flagship program, the Lord’s Diner “Give 365” campaign, with hopes of serving 365 people for 365 days.
Mission accomplished.
With the help of many donors, businesses and nonprofit organizations, more than $133,000 was raised for the diner.
“It was a tremendous first year for Give 365,” Rotarian Joe Dellasega said. “In all, 234 donors, 23 businesses and 12 non-profits came together to help ensure no one in Pittsburg needs to go to bed hungry.”
According to a release, the “Give 365” campaign is based upon the diner’s approximate cost to prepare meals for the community for a single day — $365.
Dellasega, who also serves as chairperson of the Diner Advisory Council, said the program was a small idea which grew and grew. According to Dellasega it was a conversation between local businessman Bill Wachter and then-director Matt O’Malley over coffee which sparked the idea.
“I’d known Matt since he was a kid,” Wachter said in a release. “And I would often walk in to ask him how things were going.
“When I found out the daily cost I thought to myself, ‘Gee, that’s only about a dollar a day. If we could find 365 people who’d be willing to commit a dollar a day we could fund the entire year.’”
It didn’t take long for word of Wachter’s efforts of beginning the connections to clients to reach the Diner’s advisory board.
“Bill had really hit upon something,” Dellasega said. “But he knew he didn’t have the time or network to make it as big as he wanted.”
That’s where Rotary came in.
Both the Noon and Sunrise clubs were already heavily involved with The Lord’s Diner, through fundraisers such as RocktoberFest and numerous volunteer hours, Dellasega said.
“Working together we were able to take Bill’s idea to the next level,” he said.
To help kick-start the program, Rotary presented an $8,000 check to the diner in March 2018.
The rest is history. Businesses, non profit organizations and various donors came together to help the Lord’s Diner serve 365 people for 365 days.
Dellasega said the most exciting thing about campaign is the number of people that participated.
“It’s a community wide support with a number of people who participated and volunteer hours to keep cost down,” he said. “It’s overwhelming to me, it’s a true grassroots effort.”
He also thanked the Catholic Diocese of Wichita’s Lord’s Diner system.
“I’ve often been asked how The Lord’s Diner can operate in a community as small as ours,” he said. “I believe that our size is part of our strength.
“We know and care for one another. It’s what makes Pittsburg so special. We also are blessed to be in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita’s Lord’s Diner system.
“The Diocese’s operational and financial support have helped us thrive in a way that we could not have done by ourselves. ‘Give 365’ is another way for our local community to help. We’re hoping those who sponsored a year in 2018 will renew for this year, and that they’ll encourage their friends to sponsor a night.”
The Lord’s Diner Site Manager Laura Ramsey said she has seen the impact Rotary has made in the community.
“So many different civic clubs, churches, businesses and families have come together to provide quality food, service and fellowship for our guests,” she said in a release. “Rotary’s leadership in this equation is significant and greatly appreciated.”
If people would like to support “Give 365” they can visit the website www.thelordsdinerpittsburg.com or call the Lord’s Diner directly at 620-240-4134.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.