More than 70 women gathered in the Santa Barbara Women’s Club on Tuesday night to dine together as part of the national organization Dining for Women.
The special guest at the event was the organization’s founder, Marsha Wallace. Wallace has been on a meet-the-membership road trip throughout California sharing the inspiration and mission of the organization.
Wallace, of Greenville, S.C., founded Dining for Women in 2003 with the simple vision of potluck meals and inviting women to learn about a particular international program benefiting impoverished women and girls. Attendees then donate what they would have otherwise spent in restaurants. Coined as “collective giving,” the funds from all chapters’ monthly meetings are pooled to support the one international program.
In the 11 years since its founding, Dining for Women has expanded into 422 chapters with more than 8,000 members, spanning all 50 states and 15 countries. Cumulative giving has reached more than $3.3 million in grants and is expanding as the organization continues to grow. More than $40,000 is raised each month.
Wallace’s presentation Tuesday night focused on the need not just for female empowerment but the overall necessity of international gender equality. Wallace shared a staggering statistic: 4 million women and girls disappear each year due to a variety of practices and traditions, including gender infanticide and sex trafficking. She quoted Sheryl WuDunn of Half the Sky, “Women are not the problem, they’re the solution.”
In true Dining for Women fashion, attendees at the night’s dinner each brought a potluck dish to share. Santa Barbara’s four chapters were well represented and attendees also included chapters from Shell Beach and Templeton.
To end the evening, Barbara Katz from Santa Barbara’s first chapter shared a presentation about the BlinkNow Foundation in Nepal supporting the Kopila Women’s Empowerment Center, which is March’s featured program.
Click here for more information about Dining for Women.
— Julia Davis represents Dining for Women.