Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts kicks off a Pay-it-Forward

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Neighors | Submitted .Colin Brown, who passed away last year, was the inspiration for Suzie’s Dog and Draft’s Pay It Forward donations.   Brown worked in the restaurant industry, managing newly opened restaurants and helping get them off the ground. He was a volunteer with the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator in Youngstown and was known for always helping those in need.

Inspired by the life lived by a former colleague; Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts is hoping to pay tribute by taking action.

Hosted in cooperation with the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley, Suzie’s customers can donate a hot dog for the hungry and write a note of support.

Their donation will be matched dog-for-dog by Suzie’s. Then on the second Wednesday of every month this year, Suzie’s employees will provide a meal for the overnight residents and meal visitors at the Mission’s downtown Youngstown facility. The goal is food for the body and encouragement for the spirit.

The project is inspired by the untimely passing late last November of Colin Brown. Brown worked in the restaurant industry, managing newly opened restaurants and helping get them off the ground. He was a volunteer with the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator in Youngstown, was known for his pay it forward attitude and always helping those in need.

“Colin always was willing to support someone when they were down,” said Suzie’s CEO Christian Rinehart. He and Brown started their careers together as coworkers at Jillian’s in the late 1990s. “I hope that sharing his example will inspire others.

“This is just fantastic. Colin is up there smiling because he would love this,” said April Brown, Colin’s sister, describing her brother as a very giving person who loved to put a smile on everyone’s face. “If this project can accomplish even a fraction of (the work) he would do, he would be so proud.”

In the last few years, charitable dining has been quietly building momentum around the world in the form of pay-what-you-want cafes and buy-one give-one models often launched by millennial entrepreneurs. The concept is simple: feed someone in need at the same time you feed yourself. In Canada, a broader network has led to a nonprofit made up of more than 200 restaurants that are collaborating to donate meals to the hungry.

“Here in the Valley we are in need of long-term solutions to hunger and poverty,” said Rinehart, noting the Youngstown Metropolitan Area has an overall poverty rate of 17.2 percent and the poverty rate for is 50 percent compared to the national average of 21 percent. “In the meantime, however, there are people on our streets that struggle to eat on a daily basis. This is our way to help them.”

Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, currently celebrating their 125th year in The Valley, can attest to the need to feed the hungry in our community. Daily, more than 300 meals are served to anyone in need, no questions asked, often through community projects like this one.

“The Mission has been supported by our neighbors since the doors were opened,” said Lynn Wyant, vice president of development at the Mission. One way this happens is with the Mission’s “Take Out Team” program where restaurants agree to cater (or even just provide ingredients) for a lunch or dinner meal once a month or quarter. “Having Suzie’s join in this effort is a blessing.”

For more information about this pay-it-forward campaign or Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts, contact Christian Rinehart at 440-339-5931.

To learn more about Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, contact Lynn Wyant at 330-744-5485.

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