Featuring an array of inspiring guest speakers, a special performance by the Auckland Street Choir, and the engaging MC talents of Sarah Trotman ONZM, the first ever Merge & Dine 2018 is an evening guests will likely remember for some time.
Merge & Dine was a fundraising dinner with a twist. A carefully planned seating arrangement ensured that people from different backgrounds sat together. For example, people who have lived on the streets for several years sat together with people who held senior managerial positions at multinational companies. The intention was to encourage interaction, break down barriers and embody the very core of what Merge Café seeks to do – to merge communities and create a non-judgemental space for everyone to connect.
But the real twist was yet to come. Most guests were treated to a sumptuous three-course meal including lamb, fish, salads, vegan dishes, handmade chocolates and more. But a handful of tables founds themselves with only a simple dahl dish to enjoy.
The lack of choice for these tables brought about a beautiful exchange of kindness. Guests on tables that had full meals shared their plates with those who would have otherwise missed out. This experience sparked conversations about what lack of choices can mean for people who experience homelessness.
Through generous donations and an exciting silent auction on the night, Merge & Dine raised over $50,000. These funds will ensure Merge Café can continue serving nutritious meals at low to no cost while offering a vibrant community space where all are welcome.
This wonderful evening wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts and generosity of many incredibly hardworking volunteers from Lifewise, Airedale Property Trust, and Methodist Mission Northern. We would also like to acknowledge our generous sponsors and supporters, thanks to whom our guests were treated to a superb dining experience: AUT – Auckland University of Technology, Neat Meat, Harrier Exports, The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust, Moana premium seafood, Karma Cola, New World Victoria Park, Soho Wine Co., and Daily Organics. Nga mihi nui!