It’s now the second half of 2020 … a year that will surely go down in infamy. Around the world, people are grieving the loss of loved ones, experiencing illness and ongoing health issues, as well as unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us started this year with plans that have since been derailed, postponed, or outright canceled. In my own family, both of my brothers’ weddings in North Carolina and Colorado were postponed. This was disappointing, but I’m fortunate to have my family healthy so far. I know that we all have stories about how our lives have been impacted.
Dining for Women’s plans for 2020 changed as well. In my blog in early February, I wrote to you about our exciting goals for the new decade and our new strategic plan. All of that changed in mid-March.
With “stay-in-place” orders and social distancing across the country, we all learned to “Zoom” and transitioned to virtual chapter meetings. We adjusted our Grants Program to reflect the unpredictable times and to give our grantees the flexibility to address the most urgent needs in this crisis. Member trips were rescheduled, and our new strategic plan was put on hold.
None of these changes could have been anticipated, and I am extremely proud
of how our board, staff, volunteers, and members have risen to the situation
to ensure that women and girls globally are not left behind!
While the global pandemic is not over and challenges remain, we, at Dining for Women, are starting to look ahead again – to re-group and assess our next steps in what may be this “new normal”. Some of our chapters are experimenting with in-person meetings again – although they certainly look very different! (See the photo below of our NJ, Passaic chapter.)
I am a big believer that there is opportunity in every challenge. We have learned a lot from our experiences so far this year, and our eyes have been opened to new opportunities. While we all look forward to being able to “feast together some day”, we have learned that DFW’s community is strong, and we can gather and learn together in many different ways. By meeting virtually, you have been able to directly interact with our grantees more than ever before. Our Advocacy Chapter with RESULTS has flourished, and we have renewed energy and participation in our Goodreads Book Club and “DFW Big Read”.
Where can this take us in the future? What about virtual chapters with college friends who live all over the country, or even around the world? National conferences that are more accessible to everyone because they don’t require the time or expense of travel? Virtual meetings for “snowbird” chapters to stay connected all year long? These new ideas do not mean replacing our traditional chapter model, but expanding the options for more people to join our community and help achieve global gender equality. I would love to hear your own thoughts and ideas.
Late last year, we reached out to you to gather information on your interests and what you love about DFW! Our member survey also provided important demographic information which will allow us to serve you better and support ALL members, regardless of age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. Thank you to the 2,518 members who completed the survey; this is a response rate of more than 20%! You can see a summary of the key survey findings by clicking the link below.
I am excited to share with you the programming and initiatives we are developing in line with your interests and the strategic plan. Please continue to share your ideas and feedback with me – it has been inspiring to “meet” so many of you on our virtual meetings. I wish you and your family good health and safety as this global pandemic continues.