Did you know that going out to eat once a month could save someone’s life?
But how? HOW is the answer.
Helping One Woman (HOW) is a Fresno-based organization that asks women to bring $20 for dinner one night per month to help raise enough money to help a fellow woman in need. Half of the amount covers their meal, while the other half is donated to a local woman whose family is going through some kind of crisis. The “girls night out” also offers fellowship and some emotional support for the recipient, and possibly others in attendance who are going through a difficult time in their lives. The recently formed Lindsay Chapter of HOW has already begun holding a monthly dinner to benefit one local woman.
Their motto is: “One woman giving $10 can buy another woman lunch. Ten women giving $10 can buy another woman’s groceries. One hundred women giving $10 can make a real difference in another woman’s life.” Each HOW recipient is a woman who is going through a time of irreplaceable loss within the past 12 months. Irreplaceable loss is defined as a devastating loss, which cannot be recovered. Recipients are nominated and randomly drawn at the monthly dinner.
This week, half of the HOW dinner will benefit Frances Figueroa of Lindsay. The mother of two children and grandmother to one was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare form of cancer affecting plasma cells in bone marrow, in July 2012. The cancer was concentrated in her right shoulder and she underwent six months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation therapy until February 2013. The cancer was dormant for a year and seven months before resurfacing and spreading to several areas last September. The 25-year employee with the County of Tulare sought a second opinion and was referred to Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Doctors there recommended she have a stem cell transplant after a new round of chemotherapy. Six months later, Figueroa, weakened by the treatment, is now waiting for a chance to go to Stanford for an even stronger round of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, which will require a family member to travel with her, get room and board and pay for their own transportation.
The Lindsay Chapter HOW dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 21 at the Lindsay Wellness Center, located at 860 N. Sequoia Drive in Lindsay. For more information, call Shelly Williams at 559-359-0824, Marie Arroyo 559-361-2715, Becky Drake at 559-679-4754 or Cathy Moreno at 559-359-6568. You can also send e-mail to [email protected], Like them on Facebook or visit helpingonewoman.org. RSVP for the May 21 dinner by May 17. To reserve a spot, call or text any of the numbers above or the Lindsay Wellness Center at 559-562-5196.
HOW was founded by two women in Fresno in April 2008 who wanted to get together once a month to have dinner at a local restaurant and catch up with what was going on in each others’ lives. They also had an idea of how they could make a difference in another woman’s life and help their community at the same time by matching the amount they spent on dinner toward a woman they had met who needed help.
According to the website, “the monetary gift is only a small part. The ‘priceless’ gift is the emotional and physical support of seeing women who have never even met the recipient being there … for them. Some of these recipients have gone on to start their own H.O.W. Chapters, others become a support to another woman going through what she has gone through and there are women who have rallied groups to walk, run and help fight for other women’s well being.”
The Visalia Chapter began in 2010 and benefitted three women from Lindsay and three from Woodlake, as well as many others throughout Tulare County. The Lindsay Chapter started earlier this year. Last month, the Lindsay dinner benefitted Marla Lane Ernest. The 14-year veteran of the Lindsay Unified School District discovered a lump on her right breast in 2014. Her doctor determined it was benign, but a sonogram revealed a mass hiding deep beneath the surface of her left breast. In September, Ernest had a bilateral mastectomy and lymph node dissection and at 45 is keeping a positive mindset heading into the next phase of her life, thanks in part to the Lindsay Chapter of HOW.
“You have no idea how much being honored by Helping One Woman means to me,” Ernest shared at the dinner. “To feel the love and support of my community is just another miracle that I have the privilege to be a part of. I promise to advocate for other women who are afflicted with breast cancer, to help and support other women in need, and to pay this honor forward.”