Here is some info on how we get ready for a first banquet in an area.
Find a suitable location, the majority of the widows that come will likely be older so we don’t want a building with lots of steps. We also check community events, so as not to interfere with that because we want any widows to attend, not just church people. Also decide whether this is for widows only or widowers as well. Either one is good. Pick a date and reserve the place.
We also have to plan how this event will be funded. We send out letters to businesses and churches, making them aware of the opportunity to support this banquet for the widows. This has worked well for us.
Next we make invitation cards. We contact Seniors’ Resource Councils, churches, and senior homes of the town we plan to have the banquet in. Some of these places will not give us the names of the widows but will gladly distribute the invitations for us. Be sure to put 1 or 2 phone numbers on cards for the ladies to register. You need this to know for how many to prepare.
Once the invitations are sent, we make or buy gifts for the widows.
The ladies will come to this banquet expecting good food, so we need to find a creative and responsible caterer. We are also on the look-out for someone who could present a 45-minute program after dinner. Because we usually do our banquets in the winter time we offer free transportation to those who need it. For transportation we get volunteers to pick them up or, for people on wheelchairs or walkers, we hire the handi-van (seniors transit).
We get local people involved as much as possible – either youth or families to come help at banquet with transportation, serving the food, chatting with the widows, and the clean-up after.
We reserve 1 or 2 settings per table for the volunteers so that there is someone at each table to visit with the widows. This time of chatting is a very important part of the event because it gives the ladies a personal relationship with you.
At the banquet we have greeters who welcome the widows at the door, then someone who takes their coats and gives them a name tag, and someone who ushers them to a seat. Coffee and tea servers are ready to serve them while they wait for the rest of the ladies. Don’t be surprised if they come an hour early.
We try to make the atmosphere peaceful and beautiful. This is so important because it communicates how much we value our guests. Our prayer is that they will see a reflection of God’s love in the tasty meal, the beautiful table settings, and the encouraging program.
We put comment cards on each table for them to give us their name, address, and any comments or suggestions they may have. This enables us to directly mail their invitation next year. On our comment cards we also include their birthday. This is completely optional, but we have found that sending them a handmade birthday card is a small way we can show them that they are not forgotten throughout the year.
This is how we do it. You are welcome to use all of the ideas or one of them, however you like. We would be happy to help you in any way we can.
Thanks so much for your interest in this ministry and for opening your heart to a people group very dear to the heart of God. We have never worked with a new team that did not thoroughly enjoy the banquet and want to do it again ☺ It is a very rewarding and family-friendly ministry opportunity available in every community. God bless you and direct you as you pray about starting one in your area.
These are samples to give you a visual of the invitations and comment cards we use. You may make your own or send us a request and we will customize one for your event.