I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. – Dr. Maya Angelou
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we do many things well: Scenery, wine and food, music, and bookstores – and coffee. Can’t forget the coffee. So, when you combine our love of food and drink together, it’s not a surprise when magic happens.
This week I had the opportunity to attend the monthly gathering of the local Dinning for Women chapter. Dining for women got started when its founder, Marsha Wallace, read about a group of women getting together for potlucks and donating the money they would have spent in a restaurant to charitable organizations. Dining for Women spread like a tornado across the Great Plains when the national media picked up on it and ran stories in newspapers and TV. I mean, come on! Who doesn’t like a good potluck?
Dining for Women showed up on my radar twice in the same month so I figured it was time for me uncork my best bottle of wine and see what it was all about. I met a friend at the gathering and she introduced me to some of the movers and shakers in my community. As an ice breaker we were asked to introduce ourselves to the group and talk about one item on our bucket list. Most of the women in the group were well-traveled and had a few unexplored countries still on their lists. One woman said she wanted to take light rail into Portland. For those of you who don’t live here, light rail (especially its funding) in Vancouver is contentious issue with those who have never lived in big cities or commuted to Portland during rush hour traffic. Much laughter was had by all. I got up and introduced myself and said I wanted to go to India.
At the November gathering we learned about an organization called Pachamama that works with the Achuar people in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. They give the women and men the tools to be more empowered and in control of their land and reproductive rituals and ceremonies. We specifically learned about a group of midwives helping the Achuar women to reduce child mortality. Many of the women here are forced to give birth in the jungle, by themselves, with no medical or family support. It was quite sad and heartbreaking, but it gave me hope knowing this organization was helping to empower and educate the women on pre and post-natal care.
At the end of the night as I was washing dishes, I looked around at all the happy and sated faces and listened to the laughter as tables were rolled up the and building cleaned. It made me feel empowered and proud to be with a group of women who were so worldly and intelligent and who really wanted to make a difference.
No matter where you live, there is always an opportunity to put on a fabulous potluck dinner and get together with friends. And no matter where you live, there’s always an opportunity to give to those who aren’t as fortunate. Combining the two into a night of education, good food, and good friends is genius. If you don’t have local Dining for Women chapter in your area, (I’m lookin’ at you, Mom!) you should start one. Really.