On February 22, 2023, The Beacon published 'Area widows loved and remembered at annual Valentine’s Day luncheon.' Special thank you to Sheri Trusty, Correspondent, for writing the article and taking the pictures.
Shortly after Carol Riznikove of Port Clinton was widowed three years ago, a neighbor invited her to the annual Port Clinton Area Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon. With a new identity as a widowed woman and a heart broken by loss, she agreed to go. She came home with an unexpected gift: hope.
“Two weeks after my husband died, a neighbor grabbed me and said I should go to this,” Riznikove said. “I was just strengthened by all the women. I thought, ‘If they can do this, so can I. I know I’m not alone.’”
Creating a day of hope and connection is exactly what Jamie Knight wanted when he started the event in 2019. Knight, a local realtor, hosted the event with Pastor Todd Nielsen, Co-Lead Pastor of The Chapel.
“I get so excited about this day,” he said. ““I love this event. It means more to me than all my realty work.”
This year, the Port Clinton Area Valentine’s Day Widows Luncheon was held on Feb. 14 in The Loft at Gideon Owen. It featured games, giveaways, lunch, and music by Spencer Eller, worship leader at The Chapel. Floral arrangements and gifts were created by Kizzie Culbert of Big Boppers and her mother, Diane Kostal. Other donors include Bassett’s Market, the Orchard, Realty Star and Walker Funeral Homes.
“So many people in the community love you, care about you and don’t want you to be forgotten on such a beautiful day,” Nielsen told the women.
The 80 widows who attended the luncheon were greeted with a hug when they arrived and then hugged again when they left. In between, they were showered with gifts, attention and love.
“The Bible makes it really clear that God has such a heart for widows. Since that’s His heart, it’s our heart,” Nielsen said. “On a day they can feel extra lonely, we want them to know how much they’re loved by God and their community.”
Lynn Kauffman of Port Clinton, who has been widowed since 1994, attended the luncheon for the first time this year. She was glad she could spend Valentine’s Day at an elegant event surrounded by people who care.
“I think it’s wonderful. I’m happy I came,” Kauffman said. “Everything is really nice. Everyone is really nice.”
Story and Pictures by Sheri Trusty and the Beacon