The Transylvania Times -

AAUW Celebrating Women's History Month


March 7, 2019

Courtesy Photo

Megan Pomphrey (left) and Peggy McCaffrey (right), leaders of the Dining for Women Brevard/Hendersonville chapter, pose with member Julia Kennerly.

In March each year, the Brevard American Association of University Women (AAUW) celebrates Women's History Month by honoring local women who exemplify the national theme for this event.

In 2019, that theme is "Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence," recognizing women who have waged efforts against war, violence and injustice and promoted the use of nonviolence to change society.

While the local work may not garner national recognition, there are a number of efforts by Transylvania women to stand up against injustice, help eliminate violence in the community and use peaceful means to improve the lives of others. In a series of newspaper articles, Brevard AAUW will highlight examples of these local efforts.

Imagine that each month you can fight against the injustice linked to poverty, gender inequality and often the ravages of war or conflict.

Think of the benefit you both give and receive if you help girls and women improve their lives on a regular basis.

An effort toward this end is the Brevard and Hendersonville Dining for Women (DFW) chapter. Co-founded by Peggy McCaffrey and her daughter, Megan Pomphrey, six years ago, this group of ladies meets one evening monthly to share a potluck dinner and learn about a selected grassroots organization or project in a high-poverty, often war or conflict-torn area. The concept behind these meetings is both education for the local members and a giving circle, where smaller monetary donations are combined to have a larger impact.

Each attendee at a dinner makes a voluntary donation, typically the amount of a weeknight dinner.

These donations average about $25-$30 each. The local donations are then funneled to the national Dining for Women organization.

This well-respected nonprofit, located in Greenville, S.C., was organized in 2003 after Marsha Wallace invited friends to her birthday party, asking each friend to contribute money for needy people instead of giving birthday presents.

The idea caught on, and Wallace and her co-founder Barb Collins worked for several years to get this nonprofit organization off the ground. From its modest beginnings, there are now approximately 400 Dining for Women chapters and about 9,000 members across the country, as well as six international chapters.

Today, the national Dining for Women organization strenuously vets about 200 requests annually and awards about 12 one-year grants and about six three-year sustained grants to organizations around the world dedicated to educating girls, teaching women viable skills for improving their livelihood and fighting for gender equality.

A typical one-year grant will be approximately $40,000-$50,000.

A sustained grant is $20,000 a year for three years. Strict accountability is required from each grantee.

DFW has awarded more than $6 million over the past 16 years for activities that improve the living situations of women and their families and provide them the tools needed to change their lives and improve their children's future. Each month, the national organization spotlights one of the 12 featured grantees for that year. One of the projects supported in 2019 is the Her Future Coalition in India.

Through this grant, approximately 200 women and their children who have been enslaved by human traffickers will now receive education and job training to improve their lives and future.

Another example is Razia's Ray of Hope in Afghanistan, where talented and needy young women will be trained as midwives in their rural area. This will allow them to provide essential health care and education in their communities while also earning a living. The upcoming Dining for Women meeting will be on March 22.

"We encourage new members to join us," said Peggy McCaffrey. "Not all members bring a dish to share, but there's always plenty of food."

In addition to sharing a meal, the group enjoys a stimulating discussion about the featured grantee for that month.

(Photo courtesy of Dining for Women)

The Her Future Coalition in India is the featured Dining for Women grantee this month. The program provides education and job training for approximately 200 women and their children who were previously enslaved by sex traffickers.

"Dining for Women provides both an educational opportunity for members, plus we get to help a needy, well-vetted organization address a local priority. These meetings have helped me feel more grateful for being born in this country with all that we have here," said McCaffrey.

If you are interested in learning more about the Dining for Women organization, visit

For the location/time of local meetings, contact McCaffrey at (828) 884-7139.

(The Women's History Month series of articles is a project of AAUW Brevard Branch. AAUW's mission is to promote equity for all women and girls through advocacy, philanthropy, education and research. More information about the branch and its many activities is available on their website

The American Association of University Women is open to all graduates who hold a two-year associate degree (or equivalent) or higher degree from an accredited college or university.)


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