By Corinne Blakemore, Central Regional Leader
I’ve been involved with Dining for Women for a little over 5 years and I, as well as many of you, have seen so many changes. We’ve grown, we’ve organized, we’ve partnered, and the excitement builds as we think about what’s next.
With many different organizations helping women and girls fight poverty while attaining gender equity, I often ask myself what it is about Dining for Women that makes us different? Where does our power and effectiveness come from?
I think a key aspect of our success is our numbers – 8,000 members and we’re teeing ourselves up to at least double that by 2020.
I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in one of DFW’s travel opportunities in January 2014 when a group of us visited Girl Determined in Myanmar. Girl Determined, led by Brooke Zobrist, was our featured grantee for December 2012 and is currently receiving a sustained funding grant. To refresh your memory, Girl Determined runs an after school program for girls that provides young ladies with a “safe space” to talk about their friendships, school, family life, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind. In a society where very few people ask for these girls’ opinions, this forum provides an opportunity for the girls to learn how to express themselves and find their voice as well as how to listen and disagree in a respectful manner. By using a set method that starts with sitting in a circle, Girl Determined facilitates a program of open sharing and empowerment. It was such a treat to sit in on one of these circles and hear these girls express their concerns and sometimes joys.
At the end of one of our visits there was a Q and A session where the girls could ask us questions. You could tell they seemed a little confused about who we were and what DFW is all about. Our leader, Patricia, carefully described our process and, through a translator, the girls received the message and started understanding. There was still some confusion among them about how many members there were and how many separate individuals had donated to them. They could not believe that that many (mostly) American women cared about them and their future. Patricia went on to explain that 8,000 members during that month were sitting at tables, dining and learning about them and the progress they are making in their own lives. “Imagine, in America, this many people have their attention on us!” is what I thought they were saying among themselves. The girls just looked at one another in astonishment and I then realized how powerful these numbers can be.
At 8,000 members, we are doing amazing things but how many more lives can we change; how much of a greater impact might be possible with more members? This giving circle community is uniquely powerful. Let’s talk to our friends and family and widen our circle to bring more force to our cause, more love to one another and more positive change for all of us.