By:  John Campbell, Northumberland News – The Independent

Community Living thanks restaurant. CAMPBELLFORD – Community Living Campbellford/Brighton’s executive director Nancy Brown and board president Chris Park, on the right, thanked Andrew Papaioannou, his father Phil and brother Kosta, of Be My Guest, and their staff, Tracey Fudge and Maryellen Brown, for raising more than $2,850 for the agency’s Outcomes Sponsorship Fund. Oct. 12, 2011 John Campbell / The Independent


CAMPBELLFORD – Close to 500 people accepted Be My Guest’s invitation to be the restaurant’s guest for Thanksgiving dinner Oct. 10, and Community Living Campbellford/Brighton’s Outcomes Sponsorship Fund is $2,850 richer as a result.

 The diners weren’t charged for their turkey dinner but were encouraged to donate to the fund, which provides financial assistance to people with an intellectual disability to help them achieve life goals and dreams.

“If they feel like donating, they donate, if they don’t, they get a free meal,” said Andrew Papaioannou, co-owner of Be My Guest with his father Phil and brother Kosta. “It’s just nice to give away, do something good for the community.”

It’s the fourth year the Doxsee Avenue restaurant has held the charity dinner in support of a local cause.

Community Living’s executive director Nancy Brown and board president Chris Park presented the Papaioannou family and their staff with gifts Oct. 12 as a show of appreciation.

“Quite frankly, without the generosity of people in the community, there are things they (people with an intellectual disability) would just not be able to do,” Mr. Park said, such as have special dental work done or a prosthesis made, “things that are outside the normal funding channels. This donation will really make a difference.”

“It’s a significant amount of money,” Ms. Brown said. “It’s just amazing what they did.”

Ms. Brown said the fund — “we try to keep it over $10,000” — is supported by grants, award money and fundraisers organized by staff members. The money is used by the people the agency serves to pay for tuition, orthotics, medical supports and reconnections with families. But the fund can also help them realize dreams. One person had the opportunity to go to England this year, Ms. Brown said.

“Everybody has those dreams and aspirations but when you’re on a fixed income, there’s no way you can achieve those,” she said. “We have about 140 people in our service, so each one of those people can apply to the fund, depending on what they want.”

Ms. Brown said applications for assistance are handled by a committee whose members are drawn from staff, the board of directors, the community and persons in service.

“If people can afford to pay it back they do … whatever they can afford,” she said.