One of the most dynamic non-profit organizations in or near Northwest Philadelphia for years has been Dining for Women, which has four local chapters — in Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill, Germantown and Ambler — that raise funds for food, toiletries and other items which are delivered to the homeless and others in need.
One of the most dynamic non-profit organizations in or near Northwest Philadelphia for years has been Dining for Women, which has four local chapters — in Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill, Germantown and Ambler — that raise funds for food, toiletries and other items which are delivered to the homeless and others in need. They also make grants to women's organizations in many developing countries.
“The chapters are unusually stable and thriving by all measures,” said Betsy Teutsch, co-chair of the Mt. Airy chapter with Ann Mintz, “but 2020 was brutal for organizations whose main model is in-person meetings. However, due to the strength of the communities we built, we pivoted to Zoom and made it through. Our annual fund was actually up for 2020, and we added lots of national virtual activities that have been really well-received.”
(Carrie Eisenhandler and Ann DeMerles are the co-chairs of the Ambler chapter; Lynn Doerr and Deborah Wyse are co-chairs of the original Monday chapter, and Judith Tindall and Cara Herold are co-chairs of the Tuesday chapter. “We don't have creative names for the chapters,” said Teutsch.)
On March 6, however, the organization changed its name from Dining for Women to Together Women Rise. Why was the name changed? “The name conveyed our activity (dinners together),” explained Teutsch, “but not our growing mission, which is empowering women.
“People didn't understand which women we were dining for exactly, and men started wanting to go to find dinner companions! The model took off phenomenally well because it created communities of women supporting each other along with the grantees we fund, but in time the name didn't communicate that effectively. We outgrew it.”
Each of the four local chapters has about 10-16 attendees at meeting. One never came after her first meeting “but called to find out our tax EIN number because she is leaving a bequest to Together Women Rise in her will!”
Together Women Rise, founded as Dining for Women in 2003 by two activists in South Carolina, is “a global giving circle dedicated to transforming lives and eradicating poverty among women and girls in the developing world and in the U.S. ... Together Women Rise funds grassroots organizations that empower women and girls and promote gender equity.”
Every three years, Together Women Rise selects projects that have been previous beneficiaries of funding as monthly Featured Grantees to receive sustained funding. Sustained Grantees receive a total of $75,000 — $25,000 in each of the three years. Among others, grants have been made to women’s organizations in Tanzania, Niger, India, Mauritania, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal and Swaziland.
In addition to their own chapter meetings, there is now a monthly national
chapter meeting with speakers from the month's grantee, a monthly Zoom
laying out advocacy goals with their partner, results.org, and a monthly
national book group. For a holiday party, the Mt. Airy chapter invited a curator from Buenos Aires to take them on a virtual tour of murals by women or on women's themes.
This month's project helps impoverished girls in Zimbabwe earn income by
making and marketing bottled soap. They learn merchandising, communicating and processing, and they earn enough money to stay in school and “avoid being married off against their will as young teenagers. Their motto is 'Give us Books, Not Husbands!'”
The local chapters have 12 grantees a year. “One memorable group educates about vaccines,” said Teutsch, “by creating 'story cloths,' combining textile traditions with public health messaging to a low-literacy population.”
Together Women Rise is planning its first outdoor get-together of the year in June. If all the members are vaccinated, they will skip the masks. “We are so proud of the impact of our chapters, and we've all made new friends,” said Teutsch. “It's a win-win. And we've raised more than $250,000 through these
four local chapters. We will be celebrating 10 years this fall and will probably
plan a good celebration!”
Together Women Rise had 500 chapters in late 2019 in the U.S., but they had lost 30 since the pandemic started. All four local chapters are doing well, though, with Zoom.
For more information, visit togetherwomenrise.org. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org