Diners enjoyed their meals at several restaurants around Park Slope and Gowanus and at the same time were able to help a local charity, Christian Help in Park Slope, nicknamed CHiPS.
CHiPS Night Out took place last month at neighborhood restaurants. Founded in 1971, CHiPS is, “a community of Brooklyn neighbors, volunteers and friends who share a common spiritual vision to help those who are less fortunate. They prepare hot, nutritious meals and serve them to the needy in a caring and respectful environment.”
But its ministry goes further: CHiPS also operates an emergency pantry and shelter for young mothers and their children. They also provide seasonal clothing to those in need, which are all free. The founders were members of St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Park Slope, who were inspired by the spirit of the Vatican II Council and the Biblical story of the good Samaritan. Thus CHiPS became the first Catholic, nonprofit agency for poor, hungry and homeless people in Park Slope. At first, CHiPS offered coffee, sandwiches, free medical consultations and legal assistance every evening out of a small storefront. Then, the ministry expanded in 1976 to be daylong, serving healthy, nutritious meals to all who came to the door.
Two years ago, to raise awareness about the ministry and the need to support it, CHiPS launched Night Out. Rather than rent a venue and organize a gala, CHiPS staff and volunteers understood that outreach into the neighborhood itself was vital. “It's a bigger outreach, we can create awareness with a younger audience, families and local diners,” said Denise Scaravella, CHiPS executive director.
Some anchor restaurants have participated since Night Out began; and this time three new participants joined the list of restaurants: Al di La Trattoria, Stone Park and Pickle Shack.
“At this event we have only 10 restaurants because we wanted to drive traffic to the owners,” Scaravella explained. Peter Endriss is the co-owner and head baker of Runner & Stone as well as a CHiPS board member. “Runner & Stone is a New American restaurant and bakery where we focus on seasonal, local, often organic ingredients and create breads, pastries, pastas and entrees pulling from many culinary traditions.”
“There is no maximum number of guests one can bring. Participation consists only in going out to eat! The restaurants accepted guests as normal (based on each restaurant's normal capacity) and donated 15 percent of the day's revenue to CHiPS,” Endriss noted.