With eyebrows raised and head cocked to the side Sally dangled the little beaded key chain in front of my face. “Are you on or off flamingos this week?”
As my eyes landed on the sparkling pink and black item my eyes lit up and I nodded vigorously. “On, yes, definitely on!” I grinned.
She rolled her eyes and muttered to no one in particular, “Sometimes she can’t get enough of ’em and other times she grits her teeth and growls, ‘no more flamingos’. Which is it? According to Ms. Fickle, it has to sing to her. Yeah, sure. I’d like to hear a flamingo sing. Whatever. “
With that, she turned to the lady selling the beaded items and said, “I’ll take it. I know it’s for a very good cause.”
The lady selling the items is a volunteer for an organization called Dining for Women. She was there as a representative helping women and their children in Guatemala who are struggling. She oversees the production of hand-beaded items which are then sold with all profits going directly back to the women, who use it to build their endeavors. To quote from DFW’s website:
We don’t just give money, we invest in futures. The organizations and projects we support educate girls, teach women a skill, help develop markets for their products, and fight the prevalent gender inequality in the world. We give a hand up, not a hand out.
The idea is to gather at a home of a member, bring a dish to share and donate the amount of money one would spend on a dinner out. Better put, here is an excerpt from their website: https://diningforwomen.org/about-us/
CHANGING THE WORLD ONE WOMAN, ONE GIRL, ONE DINNER AT A TIME
Dining for Women is a global giving circle that funds grassroots projects working in developing countries to fight gender inequality. Dining for Women celebrates the power of the individual to see an injustice and act to change it; to see need and act to fill it. Dining for Women’s members are deeply involved in the grantees we support and the problems we seek to address. Our education component is equally as important as our fundraising.
I was invited to attend a meeting of DFW several years ago and was delighted to be introduced to such a group of animated, enthusiastic, well-educated, and generous women of Santa Cruz. Although I admit to attending only sporadically, whenever I do, my heart is filled with joy at the good work being done by the members. Not only that, the food that is prepared by the attendees is plentiful and delicious. To spice it up even more, there is always a nice selection of wines, both red and white, served in real wine glasses — no earth-polluting plastic for this bunch!
As my friend, Sally, was paying for my flamingo keychain the vendor explained that all the beaded items were handmade by either the women themselves or their children. In this case, a young boy made the keychain by using a fine needle and placing one bead at a time in the piece. If you’ve ever attempted any needlework you will know how tedious this can be. It took me a year to needlepoint a simple Christmas stocking and I worked on it daily. I said “never again”, but here I am doing another one, with pleasure, for my new grandson. My goal is to have it done by December 25, 2020. Yes, I can do this!
The young boy in Guatemala could probably make a thousand flamingos to my one project and he does it with a smile. The recipients of the program are grateful to have the opportunity to elevate their lives through the guidance of DFW. I am grateful to be a small part of it and grateful for my new keychain, which is so much more than just a flamingo.
Sally Bookman is one of the Santa Cruz chapter leaders of Dining for Women. Her group meets every second Tuesday of the month. For more information contact: email@example.com
The meetings normally take place at a member’s private residence where a warm welcome awaits standing members and newcomers alike. Addresses and directions are provided with your invitation. Some of the veterans are even willing to pick up first-timers as a way to show hospitality to single people who may feel uncomfortable going to a stranger’s home for the first time. In addition, carpooling is always a bonus to save on gas and space. There are times when a large number show up and parking is scarce.
I remember the first time I attended at the invitation of the fabulous Mrs. Bookman herself. I was going through a nasty divorce (is there ever a non-nasty one?). My confidence was low, my heart was shattered, and I felt all alone and isolated. I always wondered if Sally secretly asked the ladies to be extra nice to me as I was warmly embraced by the houseful of marvelous women. I placed my dish to share on the main-course table and spotted the dessert table across the way — a feast to behold!
I thought maybe this was an unusual occurrence like it was somebody’s birthday or something. But being the new kid on the block I simply went to the sidelines and absorbed the experience. I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m very shy and reserved in large groups. Always have been. I quietly wrote out my donation check and placed it in the basket along with the others. Nobody looks at your amount or makes you feel obligated to give beyond your means. Some people give cash and nobody puts the amount down in a record book. The idea is to give the amount you would spend on a dinner out. Some give ten dollars and others give a hundred. At the end of the day it all adds up to a community boost and as the mission statement says: We give a hand up, not a hand out.
If you would like to attend a meeting please contact me or Sally. Who knows? You might end up buying a flamingo.