There is nourishment for both the body and soul in the comfort of a home-cooked meal. For the last 38 years, many Sedalia residents have found that to be true each fall as the Sedalia Business Women of Missouri host their annual chicken dinner.

This year’s dinner remains much the same — a choice of fried or grilled chicken, cheesy potatoes, salad, vegetables, coffee or tea and dessert — and the community will again benefit from the event’s proceeds.

Since 1999, the organization has donated almost $50,000 to a number of charitable organizations and scholarship recipients throughout Pettis County.

“Some of our projects have been one-time efforts but many of them have been ongoing projects,” SBW secretary Della Schnakenberg explained. “We try to support as many organizations as we can.”

The list of causes the funds have benefitted contains more than 50 organizations.

CASA is one organization the women have supported for many years. The businesswomen also donate to Operation Sweatsuit. Sue Parish, co-chair of the Special Projects Committee, explained that often when women or children have been taken to the hospital following a rape or assault their clothing is kept as evidence.

“Here is someone who has been through a traumatic experience and they are being sent home in a hospital gown,” Parish said. “We have provided funds so they can at least have a new sweatsuit to leave the hospital.”

Funds have also gone to the Sedalia Police Department to help purchase new bulletproof vests, and to numerous programs for both the elderly and youth of Pettis County.

For decades, members have also offered college scholarships. In many cases these are awarded to non-traditional students who are returning to college after leaving to raise their children or for financial reasons.

As preparations are made for the 39th annual dinner, member Rhoda Moore reflected on prior dinners.

“We’ve changed the locations. I think the first ones I remember were at First Christian Church and of course at the Fireside, it was because of Frances (Summers, then owner of the restaurant) that I joined the organization,” Moore said. “One thing about the dinners is they are consistent every year. People know what to expect when they buy a ticket, they know it will be a good meal and they will have a good time.”

With more than 500 dine-in and take out dinners served in 2018, all three women admitted that a group of “wonderful men, husbands and friends” led by Don Weaver and his crew help make the dinner possible.

“Don and his crew cook all of the chicken,” the trio said in unison. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

The Sedalia chapter has a membership of 78 and is the largest in the state, according to Schnakenberg. Most of the members will help in some capacity at the dinner.

The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Shrine Multi-Purpose Building, 1375 Elm Hills Blvd. Adult tickets are $10, children tickets are $5, and admission for children under 4 is free.

Tickets may be purchased at Buckley & Buckley, Don’s Truck Towing, or Moore’s Greenhouse. Tickets are also available from any Sedalia Business Women member or at the door. Call 660-221-8272 for carry-out orders.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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