Dining for Women started with a meal. Even as the organization has grown, food has retained a special place at the center of the giving circle. Sharing a meal means sharing time, conversation, and a bit of ourselves. Linda McElroy has helped spur that connection by encouraging creativity in the kitchen and a fresh look at international cuisine during her time as DFW’s Recipe Curator.
McElroy is stepping down after five years of service in that position, but she remains committed to DFW and its programs. She first learned of DFW after a segment about it aired on NBC News.
“My husband and I were watching and he said, ‘You have to do that,’ and I said, ‘I know,’” McElroy said. “I applied for a chapter right after that.”
McElroy is now a Seattle-area Mentor, and she enjoys visiting a variety of chapters. She said the specificity of the help provided by DFW to its grantees has been meaningful to her.
“When you look at the materials and read about the people you’re helping, I find it fascinating that this money will help 250 girls,” she said. “It’s not vague. I am actually helping girls in a village in Kenya. It feels more personal.”
McElroy saw a DFW call for a Recipe Curator and knew it was a good fit. “I immediately got excited about it,” she said. “I was recently retired. My husband and I owned a restaurant for 25 years.”
The role has been an opportunity for McElroy to experiment and learn about new foods, while providing an enormous benefit to DFW.
“I love researching recipes,” she said. “There was this whole world of different foods that I was ready to explore. I had never done anything like this before. This group trusted me to go for it. That first year, I was finding my way. I’ve just loved doing it.”
It all started around the dinner table. In 2003, Dining for Women Co-Founder Marsha Wallace celebrated her birthday with a simple fundraising dinner with friends. That meal would lead to DFW and its first chapter – SC, Greenville-1 – which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary.
“After 15 years of inviting DFW into our Greenville homes, we celebrate the power of an individual to shape the lives of others,” said Co-Founder Barb Collins. “Our fervent belief that investing in the futures of women and girls transforms the world is proving that collective giving is a powerful force for change.” Details
Even during a year in which the United States suffered through 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each, you, our members, showed up each month to support Dining for Women. Thanks to your record-breaking donations, in 2017 we were able to fund grants and partnerships that directly impacted the lives of nearly 40,000 women and girls in 18 countries around the world. Details
Many thanks to our West Regional Co-Leaders Patty Karabatsos and Linda Dougall for their years of faithful service to DFW. Both are completing their terms and stepping down from their positions at the end of February. We are currently seeking volunteers to serve as our West Regional Leaders. For more information, please contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details
As part of Dining for Women’s Travel Program, a group of travelers will visit Rwanda February 18-25, 2018. DFW member Linda Baxter lived and worked in Rwanda and shares her experience in the country.
In 2014 and 2015, I was living in Rwanda and working for the Human Resources for Health (HRH) project. Our goal was to assist the staff of the University of Rwanda in their efforts to improve medical and nursing education and practice. I was assigned to a more rural school of nursing and midwifery in the town of Gicumbi (Byumba) where I worked with faculty, and students – in classrooms as well as the hospital and local health center. Details
KCRA News covered the CA, Rancho Cordova chapter meeting on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2017) and DFW’s Biggest Chapter Meeting Ever. Special guests at the meeting were members of the first Muslim Jr. Girl Scouts troop, who presented the featured grantee and conducted a community fundraiser on behalf of DFW.
For the past two years, we have been building our infrastructure so that we could launch our commitment to growing Dining for Women with even more chapters across the U.S. You have joined hands with us and answered the call! Details
Dining for Women Co-Founder Marsha Wallace shares the story behind Dining for Women and how we are connecting people in creative, powerful ways to promote gender equality around the world on the BetterWorldians Foundation weekly podcast.
DFW Co-Founders Marsha Wallace and Barb Collins recently recorded a half-hour interview for an audio podcast called “Sandi Klein’s Conversations with Creative Women.” Take the time to listen – you will be inspired about DFW and our mission all over again!
2015 was a big year for Dining for Women! Significant changes took place that have strengthened the vision, management, and operations of our organization. In her first full year at the helm, our Executive Director, Beth Ellen Holimon, realigned the duties and reporting structure of staff, led the Board of Directors through an extensive visioning process, and successfully created and executed DFW’s first, formalized fund development plan.
What a month we have had at Dining for Women! Less than a year ago we were hammering out the details of our 2020 Vision and on March 8th we met the First Lady of the United States to celebrate our partnership with the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn program.
DFW’s Partnership Program is now initiated with this proactive, issue-based funding for girls education. This partnership allows us to coordinate our work with other organizations to make a global impact. It is the necessary balance to our Featured Grants in which we are able to respond to needs identified by in-country organizations. Now, in the company of organizations like Proctor and Gamble, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, J. Crew, and Salesforce Foundation, we are part of a bigger movement to eliminate the barriers to education for girls all over the world. Details
On March 8th – International Women’s Day – Dining for Women announced its first Strategic Partnership with a $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education. On that day, we were honored to participate in a special event with First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington DC to support the Let Girls Learn Initiative. (See White House Fact Sheet) Details
We are very excited to announce our latest steps toward achieving DFW’s 2020 Vision. We are launching a new Operational Committee structure which will allow our members to engage more in the decision-making processes of DFW and influence the directions we will take in the future. Details
Last year, Dining for Women announced its 2020 Vision, with plans to grow our organization to 20,000 members by the year 2020. This is indeed a bold goal, and one that we believe is achievable over the five-year period. Our focus this year is on laying the foundations for our future growth, and we are off to a great start! I want to tell you about an important initiative that has recently been under way. Details
As the board and I worked to culminate the voices of members, leadership volunteers, and staff for the 2020 Vision, we had to look hard at the desires of the future. Most importantly, we had to understand what Dining for Women is trying to change. This instigated a very interesting discussion because, as we have been pointing out throughout this year, there are many points of change in our model. As we pursue our vision of change, we recognize that Dining for Women must create a number of transformations along the way: Details
I’ve been writing and rewriting this message for over a decade. The heart of it is always the same: collective action drives social transformation. When individuals believe they have found a way to change the world, it’s a powerful force for good. Dining for Women is a way to change the world. And in this world of unprecedented division, Dining for Women is a movement where individual differences are inconsequential and unity and solidarity prevail. Details
In my very first week at Dining for Women, I sat around a table with our Board of Directors while Barb Collins, Board Chair and Co-Founder, asked each of us to share our “Dining for Women Story”. It was my first time meeting Anne Capestrain, but she told a story I will never forget. She shared how DFW had given her the opportunity to be a part of other women’s lives and, in doing so, she was inspired and her life had been transformed. I have visited about 50 chapters this year and have heard similar stories across the country.
This month, Co-Founder Marsha Wallace discusses the importance of investing in Dining for Women through our 13th Month Campaign.
Imagine…. A world that works for women…..
Imagine every woman and girl worldwide having access to education, healthcare, economic opportunity, legal and political participation in their communities and nations, living lives free from discrimination, oppression, violence and poverty. Imagine hundreds of thousands of Dining for Women members united by a common goal – to ensure equity and opportunity for women and girls living in poverty globally. What an exciting and BOLD vision!
Donating online to Dining for Women is now easier than ever with our new Click & Pledge processing system. Members can conveniently make one-time, recurring or in memory/in honor donations all in one place – whether they are on their computer, tablet or mobile phone.
Click & Pledge is a simple, user-friendly, and highly secure system that is designed specifically for non-profits and is widely used throughout our industry.
A look at the work of our Program Selection Committee
By Janine Baumgartner and Susan Garrity
Members frequently ask how programs are selected for funding. We consider the selection of program grantees one of the most important decisions we make. As with every important decision, there is a designated person or body and there is a process.
Over the past year, our Board has been listening to and reflecting on many points of view from our members, our volunteer leaders, committee members, and our staff. From this, a dream has emerged for the future of our organization, and we want to share it with you.
As DFW members and supporters, we know that you share our passion for improving the lives of women and girls around the world through gender equity and empowerment. No matter how far apart we live, or what our life experiences are, we are all connected in deep and meaningful ways because of our shared vision for what we want DFW to accomplish, and what it brings to each of us in terms of heartfelt connection with each other and the broader world.
After coming off two three-day weekends with Dining for Women volunteers, I am more grateful than ever for what you do, how you think, and the impact you have on Dining for Women. DFW is extremely reliant on volunteers and the thought of all our volunteers going on vacation for a month at the same time is frightening. Fortunately, because I like to think positively, this will never, ever, ever happen. Then a tiny voice in the middle of the night says, “Beth Ellen, wake up. What IF DFW volunteers did NOT show up for a month? What would happen?”
For Dining for Women, everyday is International Women’s Day so here’s a list of ideas to help you celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of women around the world throughout the month of March. Details
The Chestnut Hill Local reprinted a profile of Margaret Guthrie of Mt. Airy, PA, a 77-year-old author of eight published cookbooks. Margaret is a member of the Mt. Airy chapter, a prolific author and a dedicated community volunteer. Great story, great subject.
Marsha Wallace hosted a conversation with “A Path Appears” co-author Nicholas Kristof about the new book, the gains made in reducing extreme poverty and women’s equality — and the distance yet to go. The authors mention Dining for Women in several spots throughout the book. “Sheryl and I are such big fans of what you guys do,” Kristof said during the Hangout. View the on-demand video of this insightful conversation.Details
Is it luck, good fortune or just being in the right place at the right time. Whatever, DFW is the beneficiary of a lot of it — finding the right people when we need them, being in the right mind-space when we need to be. It’s luck the Dining for Women way — strategic serendipity.
There are a lot of reasons to check out Dining for Women virtually. You might be out of town on business and miss your regular chapter meeting. You might not have a local chapter but still want to be part of the organization. Or you may just want to see what we’re all about. Find out more about how to get connected with DFW virtually.Details
One of our members questions why we offer costly travel programs when that same money could go so far to support our programs. Patricia Andersson, DFW’s Travel Program Director, explores the responsibilities of privilege and the value of our trips. Details
Foundation Rwanda was our featured program in September 2013. This summer, chapter leader Reiko Johnson had an opportunity to visit Rwanda and meet some of the women during a peer support group session. Details
Ever wondered how to read about some of the trips the Travel Program has taken? This post will show you the easiest way to access the travel blogs, plus give you a taste of our recent trip to India.Details
How does Dining for Women select its featured programs? It’s a strenuous and stringent process that requires a remarkable commitment by the volunteers who take it on. Take a walk through the process with Dr. Maggie Aziz, program director. Details
Certain keywords help define ourselves and our values. DFW has four that we think describe the essence of who we are, what we value and how we work toward achieving our goals. Tell us if you agree and how you see those words in action. Details
Women and children in conflict zones around the world are far more likely to be killed, raped, injured and torn from their homes than actual combatants. The Women Peace and Security Act offers protection for women on the ground and a seat at the negotiating table. But it is languishing in Congress. What can DFW do to help?
Our education team works hard each month to provide key information to enrich our members’ understanding of our featured program. But occasionally members or leaders have questions that aren’t addressed in our materials.
When that occurs, people may be contacting the program director or staff directly. Some of our funded programs report that they may be answering the same question from more than one DFW member or chapter. These can be time consuming calls for the program. But beyond that, if one program has a question, there’s a good chance others might as well.
With 8000 members spread out from Bangor to Santa Cruz, DFW uses email as the most efficient way to communicate. These messages include monthly newsletters, donation acknowledgements, tax receipts and other messages.
Dining for Women is very aware of the flood of emails all of us receive on a daily basis. To that end, in 2013 we significantly reduced our communications. Most months, the average member receives one email from us – The Dish; chapter leaders get two with the CL Newsletter. We have consolidated what used to be separate emails for new programs, trips or products into these monthly communications.
Annie Johnston (left) and Karen Faunt in the living room of Karen’s new home.
By Patricia Andersson Chapter leader, Portland
Annie Johnston could never have predicted that getting involved with our Portland Southeast chapter of DFW would allow her to once again visit the home where all her childhood family gatherings took place.
And Karen Faunt, long-time chapter member who’s also on DFW’s Program Selection Committee – as well as being the home’s new owner — would never have guessed that by hosting a DFW potluck, she’d be able to provide a new friend with a cherished walk down memory lane.
Barb Collins, co-founder of Dining for Woman, was elected as chair of the Board of Directors at its fall meeting in Newark, NJ. Barb takes over the chairmanship from acting chair Barbara Wagner. Details
The International Violence Against Women Act is one of several important pieces of legislation around the world needed to stop stoning, rape, assault and other forms of inhumane and degrading treatment of women around the world.
Editor’s Note: Jeanette is the daughter of DFW co-founder Barb Collins. We asked her to be our roving reporter during the 10th anniversary weekend and record her impressions, special moments and emotions from the event.
By Jeanette Collins
I was 13 when I first heard of Dining for Women.
Marsha Wallace and my mom, Barb Collins, have done an amazing thing: They took an idea and made it a reality. I feel honored to have grown up with what began as one small gathering and is now an international organization changing the lives of women and girls. Details
The Women Peace and Security agenda’s goal is to empower women – representing half the world’s population – as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened by war and violence. Details
A group of journalists known as The Documentary Group were looking for ways to continue the work of a media icon – Peter Jennings – after his death in 2005. They wanted to do the work that he would have done – telling important stories that can effect change in the world.
Their focus became ending global poverty – a pervasive issue with many causes. But as they researched the topic, reaching out to experts in many different fields including international development, public health, peace and security, economic politics, one message came clear.
Cari Class started her DFW chapter in Santa Cruz, CA, nearly six years ago. “That same passion for what we’re doing as an organization, which just rocks my world and gives me a deep sense of purpose in my life, is no less vibrant today than the day I started,” says Class, whose energetic presentation drew cheers and applause from conference attendees. Details
If you talked to your child’s teacher, questioned your doctor or sent a letter to the editor of your paper, then you have acted as an advocate.
“We are each advocating for a host of important community and personal issues every single day,” noted Nancy Delaney, manager of community engagement for Oxfam America. “As members of the Dining for Women community, you’ve each become advocates for the women and girls whose lives and dreams you support.” Details