“Role models are important,” said Ron Snitker, a two-year returning restaurant host for Nashville’s Dining Out for Life, an annual fundraiser for local HIV advocacy organization, Nashville CARES. Snitker, a local member of the Nashville community—whose background is in financial services, marketing and sales, and who holds a degree in music performance and business from the University of Iowa—says participating in this event is all about helping the community and creating awareness.
Snitker is an active philanthropist and volunteer in the Nashville community. In addition to his support for Nashville CARES, he has volunteered for organizations such as the Nashville Symphony, Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, the Middle Tennessee State University Lambda organization, and currently serves as Vice President of the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Chamber of Commerce.
Although all of his volunteer experiences are equally important to him, Snitker said volunteering for Nashville CARES has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of his life. Nashville CARES was founded in 1985 with hopes of helping residents of Middle Tennessee better understand how to prevent this disease that takes the lives of many of our loved ones every year. According to the organization’s mission statement, Nashville CARES offers services annually to 55,000 men, women, and children in the middle Tennessee area affected by HIV/AIDS. Some of the services included case management and education.
Snitker grew up in a small town in Iowa with a population of only 9,000 people in an area where there weren’t many out LGBT people and in an era where the HIV/AIDS epidemic was known as the gay cancer and the stigma surrounding it was immense. As Ron said, “This is the most significant disease in modern lives,” and that’s why he always wants to be involved.
According to the Nashville CARES, Dining Out for Life has grown rapidly over time. On April 18, 2017, an estimated 20,000 people will dine at over 80 restaurants to raise over $160,000 for Nashville Cares. Before moving to Nashville and transferring his job, Snitker hosted Dining Out for Life in restaurants in San Francisco. Between him and his husband, they have hosted for a total of 15 years, four of which (two each) have been in the Nashville area. In addition to Dining Out for Life, Ron has volunteered for The Nashville Aids Walk and Avant Garde, both annual fundraisers for Nashville CARES.
For the past two years, Snitker has been the host at Lockeland Table in East Nashville. Lockeland Table is a local restaurant that serves new American cuisine and grows and cans its own herbs. Two years ago, a few people asked Ron to help them host this restaurant because of the high demand of time for a host to commit on the day of the event.
Due to Snitker’s philanthropic nature, he did not hesitate to volunteer. When asked what his inspiration was for volunteering for this event, Ron simply stated that Nashville CARES’ mission to educate and help the community fight against HIV/AIDS was enough of an inspiration for him.
“Being a host for Dining out for Life is one of the most simple ways to become involved,” said Snitker. He added that a hosts’ job is simple; “Promote the restaurant on social media and help drive business to the event, and when the guests arrive educate them on the mission of Nashville CARES, serve as an ambassador, and thank diners for supporting the organization.”