In 2022, Vicky Rigney registered for the OCF 100+ Women Who Care event for the first time. She nominated the First Congregational Church Community Meal Program as one of the local non-profit organizations eligible for the evening’s proceeds. Vicky’s expectations for the evening were low. First, she had to make a poster to be displayed at her informational table during the hour before the event. By her admission, this is not one of Vicky’s strengths. Second, Vicky was not sure that The Community Meal Program was the type of non-profit consistent with the 100+ WWC event. “I had never paid attention to which groups received the grants before. I assumed this event was for elite groups that we were not a part of. We are small potatoes. I didn’t think The Community Meal belonged because of who we served and what we did.” Third, while Vicky was sitting at the informational table before the event, ready to answer questions, very few women stopped by. “We know about your organization,” was uttered many times. Vicky’s concerns were heightened that this was not the right place for her and The Community Meal Program.
That changed within an hour. Vicky’s nomination form was one of four drawn randomly, which meant she was asked to speak on behalf of The Community Meal Program, outlining the organization’s needs. Vicky stood before the room and spoke from her heart about the organization that means so much to her and the people it serves.
The First Congregational Church Community Meal Program received enough votes to be awarded a $3,000 grant that evening. Vicky was shocked. “They know who we are,” Vicky thought. “They know what we do.”
Vicky has been working with The Community Meal since 2007. It was her daughter who introduced her to the organization. “I think you would like them, Mom,” she said. Her daughter was right. Helping to keep The Community Meal Program going all these years has been a labor of love for Vicky. She and a core group of volunteers—Cathy Otto, LouAnne Spearman, and Glen Deacon—ensure that 40-45 meals are served every Friday for anybody who wants to attend. Tony Dockery-Fobar coordinates volunteers and ensures food is there every Friday. He receives a stipend that “barely covers his gas,” according to Vicky.
The $3,000 grant to The Community Meal Program was made possible by the generous women who attended the 2022 100+ WWC event. It has kept The Community Meal going, providing over 30 Friday evening meals since last May. Each event fed 40-45 people. Without that money, Vicky doubts they could have survived this long. It also showed “our guests that people in the community care about them.” To Vicky, that is important. By receiving this grant, The Community Meal Program was welcomed as part of the community.
The guests who gather every Friday night for food and fellowship do so for various reasons. For some, it is because they are experiencing food insecurity. For others, it is an opportunity to gather with others and experience connection. They have celebrated anniversaries and birthdays and held tributes to guests who passed away. Children enter the room and are in awe of all the food they see. Sometimes, guests, even the children, give back. The Community Meal Program has created a community, according to Vicky.
Now Vicky is on board with the 100+ Women Who Care event. She wishes it would grow to well over 100 women who gather. “Women need to sacrifice $100 for this event. I would like it to be so full that there is no place for people to sit down.”
“Just try,” is Vicky’s advice to anyone considering becoming a member and nominating a local non-profit. “It’s worth the risk,” she says. This event is for everyone. This event is for the community.
To learn more about The Community Meal Program, click here for a video.
To register for this year’s event, click here.