Widows reminded they are loved at annual luncheon

Feb 20, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

On a day that could have been particularly lonely for widows, these three women enjoy the laughter of friends. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Marty Brown almost didn’t go to the very first Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon. Her husband had died just a few weeks before, and she hadn’t had time to process her new role as a widow, much less find a reason to acknowledge the most romantic day of the year. But a friend pushed her to go, and she’s come every year since.

“I wasn’t going to go because I was barely a widow,” said Brown, who attended this year’s luncheon held at The Ørchard. “Someone said I had to go because I couldn’t sit home by myself. I’m so glad I did. Everyone is so giving.”

The Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon is truly a community event. It is organized by The Chapel in Port Clinton and is supported by many local organizations, including Bassett’s Market, The Ørchard, Miss Mercedes, Root to Rise, Big Boppers, Thrive Wellness & Aesthetics and Newport Clothing.

Georgia Sorensen holds the heart wreath she won at the widows luncheon. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Nearly 100 widows enjoyed the free event, which included lunch, live music, gifts, games and prizes. They were greeted at the door and escorted to their tables by several volunteers.

“They loop their arms around the ladies and pull their chairs out for them, like their husbands would have done. They love it,” said Melissa Franks from The Chapel.

Carol Riznikove, who has been attending the event for years, said the men made her feel like a queen.

“I told the men when I came in that I forgot my crown because they treat you so well,” she said.

Carol Williams attended the luncheon with Brown. Both women attend every year.

Nearly 100 women attended this year’s Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon hosted by The Chapel and supported by local volunteers and businesses. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“It’s such a nice event and a lovely dinner, and it just makes you feel so good to be here,” Williams said. “I always see people I haven’t seen in a while.”

The event is rotated to a different venue each year, and Pastor Todd Nielsen of The Chapel said The Ørchard had wanted to participate in the event for a long time.

“With the new addition they put on, they were able to do this with us this year,” Nielsen said. “We’re just showing the ladies God’s love today, and giving them some fun and laughter.”

Jamie Knight is one of the founders of the Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon. He said the community support has grown strong through the years.

“I don’t think that people realize how much our community shows up for our widows, and it’s all because people care about them,” Knight said.

From left, Donna Young, Brennan Madison, Peggy Rohrer, Jamie Knight and Renee Coyle enjoy a moment together at the Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Knight said Brennan Madison of Frederick Agency has been by his side since the beginning.

“Brennan’s been a continual support. He’s one of the first who volunteered when we first started,” Knight said.

That first year, about 20 widows showed up for the event. This year, nearly 100 were gifted a day of love and friendship.

“It’s become a chain event. They held a Widow’s Luncheon today in Grand Rapids and at The Chapel in Sandusky and Norwalk. That was the whole goal, for other communities to take this and do it on their own,” Knight said. “So really, that original 20 women has grown to several hundred.”

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