All throughout my college experience, I took a great interest in both photojournalism and documentary photography. The reason this is, is because I wanted to be able to raise awareness of social issues as well as help people through my art. However as we all know my career took quite the left turn when I started working for DSG's visual merchandising department and then started this blog. And while I love both, I'm beginning to feel slightly unfulfilled.
This being said, with my blog rapidly approaching it's two year mark, I've decided it's time to start tackling some more prominent issues on here, while continuing my normal style and beauty posts. The first being a cause that has been near and dear to me since my college Junior and Senior thesis classes, and that would be helping the homeless. Long story short, my last two years of college were spent photographing, interviewing, and making friends with people who were living on the streets of Pittsburgh (I mostly concentrated on the Hill District and South Side). So needless to say, when I was notified that Winghart's Burger and Whiskey Bar was having an event to help feed the homeless as well as raise money for The Light of Life Mission, Pittsburgh Charity, I knew I just had to cover it here.
Just a Little Background Info
Winghart's is a local restaurant that first opened it's doors back in 2011 and it's first location was located in the heart of downtown in Market Square. Later they went on to open their South Side location which is where Free Day was held. Zach and Colin (they're the owners) started a restaurant to serve fresh, never frozen food. If you would like to read their "About Us" and check out their menu for yourself, just click here or here.
Also while I'm talking about the restaurant, ever since I was in college, Winghart's has been one of my favorite places to eat downtown. They're food is great, reasonably priced, and their cocktails are spot on as well. So, to my readers who live in and/or plan on visiting the 'Burgh, I highly suggest putting this restaurant on your list of places it visit! (And if you want my recommendations on food/drink, these are my faves: O.G. Mac & Cheese, the Percephone Salad, and the I Don't Care Whatever Burger. As for sips? I love their Gram Positive, and their seasonal drink 2 Monkey's 1 Banana, which features Monkey Shoulder Scotch, banana liqueur, muddled banana, and a slice of banana as a garnish.)
The Event: FREE DAY
While at the event, though I did not get to talk to Colin much, I did get to chat with Zach about what prompted them to do this fundraiser. Much like myself, Zach and Colin both really want to give back to their community and see the growing homeless population as a very pressing issue. Though I'm not going to go through all of the statistics here, as we all know the homeless epidemic has been on the rise in the U.S. since the bursting of the housing bubble in 2007. And unfortunately many of these individuals are not getting the help that they need. So obviously, Zach and Colin wanted to help in anyway they could, and that's how they ended up with Free Day.
The event itself took place this past Monday at Winghart's South Side location on East Carson street. For the event that they dubbed "Free Day", is exactly how it sounds: Their entire food menu (And remember, it's all made from scratch folks, and is absolutely delicious!) along with soft drinks was 100% free (excluding brews and spirits) in order to make sure people struggling could get a great meal. Free Day, however, wasn't just exclusively for the homeless, it was also opened to the rest of the public. Meaning anyone could get a kick-ass meal on the eatery's dime! But the charitable cause didn't just stop at feeding the people of Pittsburgh for free, as I stated earlier, Zach and Colin were also working with The Light of Life Mission, Pittsburgh Charity and collecting donations at the diner's discretion.
In closing, I just have to note what my favorite part of this event was and that was simply all the empathy I witnessed that day. Not that I don't [like to] think that most people are empathetic, but the sad truth is many of us have a hard time putting ourselves in some one else's shoes. However, while in attendance at Free Day, I noticed there were people from extremely different walks of life and backgrounds just sitting shoulder to shoulder and talking like old friends. Seeing this reminded me why I love being from Pittsburgh so much, how it's strong community of overall friendly people shaped me to be the person I am today. Whoever thought a little bit of free food would have such a big impact? As I heard Colin say in his interview with Channel 4 News, if one restaurant in the downtown area per week had a "free day" just think of the great strides this community would make in helping our fellow Pittsburghers that are in need, I personally think it's a great idea.
How about you? Would you like to see Pittsburgh's (or your city's) restaurants begin holding weekly free days to help the homeless? Sound off in the comments below, or tweet me at @StarkRavingChic with the hashtags #FreeDay and #Pittsburgh (or the name of your city) and I will retweet you to get the word out!
**Note, if you didn't get a chance to make it down to Winghart's on Monday but would like to make a donation to help the cause, you can donate here at The Light of Life Mission, Pittsburgh Charity.