Jun 02, 2011 Tami Zimmerman Uncategorized
About 25 women gathered at the home of Marlene McFarlene’s May 17 for a meal comprised of flavorful Mexican dishes.
The evening’s food theme tied in with a Mexico-based charity, Mujeres Aliadas, which provides health and educational services to poor women and adolescent girls. The group learned more about the grass-roots program through a short video they played after dinner.
McFarlene is a member of the Fayetteville-Manlius chapter of Dining for Women, a national nonprofit organization described as a dinner-giving circle that provides funding to international programs for women and girls. The donations collected that night would be used to support a rural midwife project.
It’s taken just six months for this local group to gain more than 50 members. Co-leaders Eileen Perry and Debbie Monaco established the first meeting in January, and as each month passes, the F-M club continues to gain more interest among individuals who learn of its mission – typically through friends already involved.
“We’ve had between 10 and 25 people at each of the monthly dinners so far,” Monaco said, though the club’s email list includes up to 60 addresses. “The initial invitation email for the first dinner in January went to women Eileen and I knew, and who we thought might be interested. We are looking to find more interested women, and people can invite friends to come to a dinner or just be on the email list.”
Members meet for potluck dinners once a month either at someone’s home or at a rented hall. The informal evening is an opportunity to socialize and become educated on that month’s charity, which the national organization introduces through a short, informative video and website referral. Members can then decide if and how much they would like to donate. Contributions are voluntary and no designated amount is expected of the members. Checks are made out to Dining for Women and are mailed directly to the home office in Greenville, S.C. The club then follows up with how the money was spent and how the members have helped. According to its website, DFW gives to international programs for women and girls only because 75 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty are women and children who live in developing nations. DFW believes it makes sense that if it is to change the level of poverty worldwide, it will do it through the empowerment of these women. Additionally, 85 percent of money Americans donate to charity stays in the United States. Of the 15 percent that is donated internationally, private foundations rather than individuals give the majority of funds donated.
Both Perry and Monaco said they are attracted to the club because of its humanitarian concept. They said it’s their way of making a small difference in the lives of others.
If you are interested in learning more about Dining for Women, visit diningforwomen.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the organization
In the fall of 2002, founder Marsha Wallace read an article about a group of friends who got together for potluck dinners and made donations to needy families by using the money that they would have otherwise spent in restaurants. Marsha was struck by the thought of using dining out dollars to support women and girls in developing countries. Its first donations supported Women for Women International, an organization profiled on Oprah.
DFW attained nonprofit status in June 2004. It’s tremendous growth occurred after being included in a 2005 New Ventures In Philanthropy study on giving circles. Since then DFW has received unsolicited national media attention, having been featured in the New York Times, Woman’s Day Magazine, Real Simple, MORE, Quick & Simple, Guide Post, the Delta Sky magazine and on Good Morning America and the Today Show.
Having started out as one group, meeting in Greenville, S.C., it has grown to well over 150 diverse chapters throughout the United States.