After hearing about Dining for Women from one of the guest speakers in my class, I encouraged students to accept the invitation to participate. And, of course, I asked for a recap of the experience via this guest post by MaLeah Peterson.
The Dining for Women concept is simple: A member of the chapter hosts dinner, and each woman in attendance donates the amount they would have spent on food that night to the chosen nonprofit of the month. Each nonprofit’s focus is empowering women living in developing countries to become economically self-sufficient, while also promoting gender equality.
I first learned about Dining for Women when Jaclyn Tracy, an analyst at Leo Burnett, spoke on a panel in one of my public relations classes at DePaul University. She casually mentioned that she and her sister Liz started their own Dining for Women chapter in Chicago, and provided the class with a quick overview of the organization’s mission. Later, a friend of mine in the class connected with Jaclyn and asked for us to be added to their contact list. One month later, we were attending our first Dining for Women event.
In February, the featured charity is Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE). The SHE 28 program focuses on puberty and menstrual hygiene management education in Kayonza, Rwanda. SHE gears its efforts toward manufacturing and distributing eco-friendly, affordable menstrual pads made out of banana fiber to girls and women. These women do not have access or the ability to purchase sanitary items as we in Western countries do. With these banana fiber pads, girls and women won’t have to miss school or work, allowing them to learn and earn more, which in turn helps them to thrive in their community. In addition, the constructing of the pads from banana fiber adds jobs from the farmer to personnel on the manufacturing line. It was amazing to see how this simple idea could have such positive effects in a community.
I attended Dining for Women with two of my classmates Alex Sobczak and Alexis Holden. Although we were the only college students present, we were greeted with joy and appreciation that we wanted to become involved in the organization. By the end of the night, I realized that I had barely spoken with my classmates, as I was engaged in conversation with other attendees. My favorite part of the event, however, was learning more about Dining for Women. I originally attended to network and donate, but I left with a strong sense of wanting to be more involved in the issues Dining for Women is working to effectively address and ultimately solve.
I encourage all women to find a Dining for Women chapter near you or to start your own. Your small donation can help change the world for those receiving funding, all while meeting new people and eating great food. In my mind, it doesn’t get much better than that.
MaLeah Peterson is a St. Paul, Minnesota native majoring in public relations & advertising and minoring in marketing at DePaul University. She is the Vice President of Special Events for the DePaul PRSSA chapter and is the Treasurer for the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.