The PA, Abington-1 chapter, started and still led by Debbie Britt and Mary Liz Jones, is celebrating 10 years of friendship, connection and learning – and it all started with a desire to help others.
Mary Liz saw a magazine story about DFW and kept it for quite a while, ultimately discussing it with Debbie. The pair contacted DFW co-founder Marsha Wallace and decided to start a chapter. They initially met with about a dozen people to tell them about DFW and collaborative giving before holding their first chapter meeting in May 2008.
“We are both really dedicated to Dining for Women, and our members tell us our enthusiasm is evident and it brings out the enthusiasm in our members,” the pair said. “We are co-leaders who support one another, and we’ve also recruited members to plan our menus and arrange the food each month. Our members also do the presentations, and we have a variety of members who host our meetings in their homes.”
The chapter, which meets each month except August, has become more than a philanthropic and educational endeavor.
“Though DFW developed and continues because of the power of collaborative giving, it is about so much more than that,” the leaders said. “These women have become friends and look forward to seeing each other at our monthly meetings. Our members have traveled with DFW and taken on additional roles in DFW. Several of our members have been and are mentors and have volunteered for other positions in DFW. One of our members became a community partner for BeadforLife after being inspired on the DFW trip to Uganda. These friendships are important to us and to our members. One of our members found us after a divorce and told us joining this group of women helped her through this tough time. We all value the support we receive from one another when needed.”
For those who are considering starting their own chapter, Mary Liz and Debbie advise recruiting a co-leader and delegating tasks to members. The chapter’s roster of 47 members has about 22 – 26 in attendance each month. The group also partners with Whole Foods and Ten Thousand Villages for DFW fundraisers.
With a full decade together, this chapter shows no signs of slowing down. Its leaders remain dedicated to the group that has returned so much to them.
“Learning about DFW early on has given us a passion for these projects we have supported over the years. Many of our members have gone further to support some of these programs on their own. Some of our members have been on the trips learning first-hand the impact we are making for women and girls around the world. Teaching new members about the passion of DFW is what keeps us moving forward and growing our chapter. Approaching our tenth anniversary, it continues to be important to our members that DFW stays intimate and in touch with the chapters. Our members are the best and add so much insight to our meetings! We have gained so much from starting our chapter 10 years ago – learning about all these programs that change lives and the friendships that we have gained!”