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Unusual suspects

Five Solon community leaders to be incarcerated for a good cause
Bail jailbirds out of Old Gold fundraiser Sept. 23

SOLON– They did nothing wrong, but on Sept. 23, five members of the Solon community will be sent to jail.
It’s up to supporters of Solon’s Old Gold Diner to bail them out.
The five men are donating their time so that others may continue to enjoy a hot noon-time meal each weekday.
Solon’s Old Gold Diner program began providing congregate meals to area seniors in April 1980, the year after the Solon United Methodist Church built its fellowship hall. Since then, the program has undergone several changes in its service model, from cooking meals on-site to contracting with a meal provider. Currently, delicious meals are prepared by staff at Solon Retirement Village and served at the Methodist Church’s fellowship hall, as well as delivered to about 15 homebound seniors each day. In 2014, the program served 7,200 meals. The cost for a meal is $3.25, and there is no age requirement; anyone can attend, as long as they make reservations ahead of time.
In addition to eating a hot, nutritious meal, Old Gold Diner participants can stay for a number of social activities throughout the week; entertainment, card games, Bingo, musical performances, visits from grade school children, and informational or educational presentations by business owners, politicians, historians and representatives of senior advocate organizations.
“Some people don’t get out of their homes very often,” said Old Gold Diner site manager Duane McAtee, of Ely. “The meal isn’t the most important thing we do; it’s getting people together to have fun.”
The program is funded through a number of sources, including contributions from the City of Solon and Solon Retirement Village, the low-cost fees diners pay for their meals, and donations from local businesses and individuals.
Because securing funding is an on-going endeavor, McAtee continues to seek creative ways to raise contributions.
Even if it means someone has to go to jail for it.
McAtee modeled this event after other nonprofit organizations’ jail-and-bail fundraisers; willing participants become “jailbirds” for a short amount of time, and raise bail for their release by asking friends, family and program-supporters to make cash donations to the cause.
“We do a different fundraiser each fall,” McAtee said. “Money that is raised will be used for helping people who can’t afford meals, and to help pay for some of the social and entertainment programs we offer.”
On Sept. 23, Don Ellis (Solon State Bank), Rev. Scott Keele-Kober (Solon United Methodist Church), Doug Lindner (Solon Economist), Jay Proffitt (Proffitt Construction) and David Steen (Bridge Community Bank) will first enjoy a last meal meal– no bread-and-water here– before being placed under custody in the church sanctuary.
A special meal will be served for the fundraising event that day. Old Gold Diner staff will make a homemade roast beef dinner and side dishes, with ice cream and homemade pies for dessert. Entertainment will be provided by Johnny Krob and Joan and Jennel. The cost is $7– no regular Old Gold Diner lunch tickets will be accepted– and the entire community is welcome to attend. Reservations must be made in advance by calling 319-624-2251.
Donations to the bail-for-jail fundraiser can be made ahead of time by calling each of the prospective jailbirds individually. On the day of the event, the participants will be allowed not just one, but as many phone calls as they need, to get out of jail. McAtee is hoping each jailbird will raise a minimum of $100 each to support the program.
The person who raises the most bail, or donations, within the initial 30 minutes will be released first, with subsequent releases based on bails raised.
“The competition might be an additional incentive,” McAtee joked.