AAPIP Voices

Food for Thoughtful Giving: The Dinner Guys


Since joining AAPIP’s National Giving Circle Network, many people have asked who The Dinner Guys are.  After making an impression by coming in as one of New York City’s top finishers in Bolder Giving’s first national Give OUT Day recently, we thought we’d dig a little deeper so we can get to know them.

Kung Ko, a founding member of The Dinner Guys, was gracious enough to share a short history from his perspective:

 “The Dinner Guys is a group of friends in New York City, who get together monthly for dinner and to catch up with each other’s lives.  Some of us have been friends for a long time.  Others have joined the group more recently.  We have diverse backgrounds, professions, and interests.  There are three interracial couples and two single men.

Until rather recently, our activities were mostly social and fun, but during a trip to St. Croix in 2012, something happened that changed our perspective.  

Two days into our trip, while snorkeling, I had an accident and almost drowned.  My friends pulled me ashore and I was taken to the local hospital by ambulance.  Due to the excessive struggle under water that occurred during the incident, I had developed a rare condition called Compartment Syndrome.  My leg muscles were so swollen that it severely cut off my blood circulation.  To release the pressure and avoid amputation, immediate surgery was required.

It was during the months of recovery and rehabilitation following this incident that I realized how fortunate I was.  The incident required very serious medical treatment and I came to feel that I had been given a second chance at life.  I also realized how blessed I was to have the kind of friends and family members who were there for me and supported me during every minute of this difficult period of my life.  I couldn’t help but think about why I had been spared.  And I also began to think about how I could give back – pass on this beautiful gift that had been given to me. 

One day, my oldest and dearest friend in the group, Frank, asked me to meet with Noelle from AAPIP to learn more about giving circles.  It was during this meeting that I realized that making the world a better place wasn’t some impossible task or just a line from a Michael Jackson song.  All we had to do was to look up from our self-involved drama and see the needs around us.

What Frank and I proposed to our friends was simple.  Instead of getting together over fancy dinners and spending money on extravagant birthday presents, etc., we would downscale our gatherings and put the savings aside to help underserved sectors in the API LGBTQ community.  Everybody was immediately onboard and soon after we decided that we would call our circle The Dinner Guys.

We still get together regularly for dinners but in addition to enjoying a good meal with a group of friends, we also take comfort in knowing that our circle can make a difference in someone’s life.  Something you won’t find on the menu at even the finest restaurants!

The Dinner Guys are fiscally hosted by North Star Fund.