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HOW Discovery Bay

HOW Discovery Bay

Business Name: HOW Discovery Bay

Helping One Woman at a Time

Brandy Woolman first learned about HOW (Helping One Woman) when she lived in Fresno, where the nonprofit group was first formed in 2008. They now have over 22 chapters all around the United States including California, Tennessee and Nevada. “I first learned about HOW when I was invited to a dinner for a woman that I knew. I thought it was a one-off event, but then the next month I received another invite and realized it was something that is done on a monthly basis. I immediately wanted to learn more,” said Brandy. The concept of HOW is simple: you have dinner at a restaurant or event space and then pitch in $10. “There are also silent auctions, prize baskets, and dessert auctions, all of which we give one hundred percent of the proceeds directly to the woman being honored that evening. The organization doesn’t keep any of the money,” said Brandy. “Attendees are not obligated to participate in the auctions, but you do need to purchase a dinner ticket and the $10 gift is required. All of that money from the evening goes straight to someone in the community. I love it.”
Once Brandy learned the details of HOW, she knew she wanted to be involved somehow. After moving to Discovery Bay, Brandy was looking for a way to give back to the community and was reminded of the nonprofit back in Fresno. “I called the Fresno chapter to see if I had the time to dedicate to the cause. Then I reached out to the founders and went through the interview process and everything required.” Brandy knew she couldn’t take on such a large task without some help. That’s when she added Debbie Neely, Jeannette Hemenway, and Shelly Williams to her team. “I knew I couldn’t do it by myself because HOW is every month,” said Brandy. “You complete one, and then five days later you start working on the next one. I had to make sure I could find people who could also invest their time, and I picked some incredible people to work alongside me.”
With her team on board, Brandy opened the HOW Discovery Bay chapter in 2018. HOW’s motto is: one woman with $10 can buy another woman lunch; ten women with $10 can buy another woman’s groceries; 100 women with $10 can change another woman’s life. “Our goal is to always have at least 100 people attend each monthly dinner,” said Brandy. “The first dinner we held was at the Discovery Bay Steak House and we had 86 people. We’ve never had less than 100 people ever since. It’s pretty incredible how generous this community is. A lot of people really want to give back.” The Discovery Bay chapter moved to Campos Family Vineyards for their dinners, catered by Vin Alegro, in order to accommodate up to 200 people; however, they recently moved to the Brentwood Community Center, which holds up to 380 people. “Word spread pretty quickly. Our chapter was honored with Nonprofit of the Year in Discovery Bay in 2020.”
HOW Discovery Bay holds their dinners on the third Tuesday of every month, except for December, mostly honoring women from Discovery Bay and Brentwood. “We just want to make sure whomever is being honored has a community to show up for her at her dinner,” said Brandy. “We also have a lot of regulars who attend every month.” Each time HOW honors a new woman who meets the criteria of suffering an irreplaceable loss, like a diagnosis of the woman, her husband, or her children. Those who attend the dinner are given the opportunity to fill out a nomination card for someone they think meets the qualifications. Then that evening’s honoree picks a name out of a giant fish bowl filled with the forms. “It’s completely random every month,” said Brandy. “If you know someone who fits the criteria, then bring friends with you to the dinner because the more people you bring, the more nominations you can fill out.” If your nominee is selected, then you become the following month’s sponsor, which makes you responsible for selecting a photo and creating a bio of the person picked, as well as gathering raffle prizes and silent auction items. “It’s a big responsibility, but this community continues to amaze me!”
HOW Discovery Bay is always looking for local business sponsors to help cover the cost of security guards, community center fees, table cloths, printing costs, and more. “We have local businesses who have sponsored three months because they loves our organization so much,” said Brandy. “I think the best thing for the future of our chapter is for people to keep coming. I really can’t believe how it’s taken off. People that we’ve nominated and honored are now opening their own chapters in other places; it’s so cool to see it expand and spread.”

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Photos by:  Sara Jean Photography 



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