Originally posted on www.thejewishnews.com
Dulcie Rosenfeld is the powerhouse behind the 30-year-old Women’s Power Breakfast.
A line of cars, seemingly a mile long, streamed into the parking lot of the new Gleaners Community Food Bank South Campus in Taylor as more than 540 participants arrived for the 30th annual Women’s Power Breakfast. Among the crowd May 2 was 95-year-old Dulcie Rosenfeld, a career volunteer and fundraiser who dreamt up the ingenious event idea three decades ago.
“You have to gear it toward women and make it something they can’t resist and must attend,” Rosenfeld recalls telling organizers back in 1993. “Women are nurturers — they have great empathy for someone who needs help.”
Dulcie’s instinct was right on the money (pun intended). To date, the Women’s Power Breakfast has raised more than $4.5 million and provided 13.8 million meals to local children and families in need. Add to that another $323,000 raised this year and nearly 1 million more meals. It’s hard to wrap your head around the collective impact.
‘We’ve seen this event grow from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars raised each year to help provide children with the nutritious food they need to grow and thrive,” said Bridget Brown, director of Food Secure Livingston at Gleaners. “Dulcie kicked it off 30 years ago by helping women realize we can move mountains if we come together. The passion, connection, and dedication we’ve seen from women attending Women’s Power Breakfast are creating a lasting impact and enduring relationships. That’s legacy.”
Bright, fresh tulips adorned the tables as attendees sat in the center of the sprawling South Campus warehouse. The facility opened in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic to house tens of millions of pounds of food distributed to area food banks.
“Twice the size of our historic Detroit headquarters, our South Campus positions Gleaners to serve our neighbors more efficiently and effectively,” said Gerry Brisson, Gleaners president and CEO. “This space gives us the flexibility to responsively and responsibly scale our efforts in the face of ever-changing economic realities.”
‘It’s Not About Me’
Rosenfeld said she is “nothing short of amazed” by what the Women’s Power Breakfast has become but was also quick to shy away from the limelight.
“It’s what the event has accomplished,” she said. “It’s not about me.”
But it is worth noting Rosenfeld’s astonishing impact over decades of serving the community. A recipient of the prestigious Fred M. Butzel Memorial Award for Distinguished Community Service, she is a past vice president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and was a member of the organization’s board of governors for 22 years. She was also a Women’s Division president and chaired its Allied Jewish Campaign effort.
Dulcie grew up in Detroit and graduated from Central High School and the University of Michigan. She and her late husband, Norman, raised four children. And she still found time to serve on the boards of Jewish Home and Aging Services, the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Community Council, Jewish Vocational Service, Agency for Jewish Education and the Sinai Hospital Guild. Her volunteer work has touched Greening of Detroit, Friends of Hillel at the University of Michigan, the Detroit Historical Society, Gleaners, United Way and so many other organizations.
“Dulcie is a brilliant woman,” Brown said. “She saw that she could make a difference 30 years ago, and she took action by bringing her network together. A lot of people have great thoughts, but they don’t put their thoughts into action, and she did. She made a long-lasting impact for Gleaners and all of Southeast Michigan.”
Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund and chair of Michigan Central, served as this year’s keynote speaker. Fox 2’s Amy Andrews emceed. Following coffee and networking, opening remarks and a short program, there were breakout sessions focused on topics including strength in building strategic partnerships, pivoting content and communicating impact in the digital age, the power of transformational projects, and how to support and empower female leadership. The event’s presenting sponsor was PNC Bank.
As the program wrapped up and the crowd of mostly women mingled and dispersed, Rosenfeld posed for a few parting pictures. Wearing a white collared shirt, a peach-colored sweater and a knowing smile, she quietly left the event she started three decades ago. How does she really feel about the enormity of it all? Rosenfeld won’t let on. Let’s hope she feels proud … and powerful.