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Bringing women together to help local non-profits

The Michigan Women’s Dinner Initiative is a unique effort to raise money for women in need.


This is how it works:  Women gather at someone’s home, bring a dish to pass, and a check for the amount of money they’d generally pay for a dinner at a restaurant. That money is then donated to a certain charity or group that helps women and children. The other upside, the women visit and enjoy the food they’ve made to share. As part of our "What's Working" series, we spoke with Cate McClure, who runs the program.

McClure serves as a lawyer and policy analyst in the state senate. She saw the effect that budget cuts were having on women and families and wanted to learn how to help.

“I realized I didn’t really know even in my hometown, which is Ann Arbor, what non-profits were out there to replace the safety net that the state had been providing, so I sort of thought this up as a great way to educate myself.”

The quarterly dinners have between thirty and fifty attendants.

“It has grown just by word of mouth. We have had more women come, and we’re raising a bit more money as a result,” McClure says.

While the Dinner Initiative welcomes new guests, it continues to be open to women only.

“I think this would be a great thing for men to do also, and children also, but with this particular group I find that women really enjoy the ability to network with just women.”

The Dinner Initiative recently raised $1200 for Avalon Housing, a non-profit dedicated to developing rental housing for people with low incomes. Supporting charities such as Avalon is important, but the group’s top priority is education.

“Learning about what these different groups do and how important they are to all the women of our area is, I think, the most important thing that we’re doing.”

By Allison Lyons