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Royal Neighbors of America gives award and grant to Quad Cities nonprofit restaurant

Sep 1, 2022

Rock Island, Ill. (Sept. 1, 2022) – Royal Neighbors of America, a fraternal benefit society located in Rock Island, Ill. has presented Quad Cities Pastor the Rev. Laura Evans Mahn with a Nation of Neighbors℠ empowerment award and $10,000 grant for Rock Island’s nonprofit NEST Café (Nourish Everyone Sustainably Together). The award and grant presented to the Rev. Mahn is one of ten Royal Neighbors will present nationwide this fall.

A membership organization with 250,000 Members nationwide, Royal Neighbors of America offers life insurance and annuity products to its Members and is driven by its mission of supporting women and serving communities. Royal Neighbors’ signature women’s empowerment program, Nation of Neighbors recognizes and supports women who work to empower women and girls through a nonprofit, business, or program.

The Rev. Mahn is the Founder and Executive Director of NEST Café, a nonprofit, pay-what-you-can restaurant in Rock Island. NEST Café is the first of its kind in the area and has a mission to the community by providing delicious, sustainably sourced food to all who enter, regardless of the size of their means.

Royal Neighbors Member Connie Avey nominated the Rev. Mahn for the empowerment award and grant. “Laura and her team understand the difference a delicious, nutrient-dense meal can make when someone is able to eat it with dignity. Women don’t have to experience the stigma of going to a ‘free meal.’ Children are able to witness their mothers paying for an amazing meal, without having to know that they may have paid less than someone else.”

NEST uses volunteers from across the economic spectrum. “At any given time, there can be someone volunteering in exchange for a meal next to someone volunteering for community service hours, next to someone doing so because their job encourages civic engagement which builds relationships and opportunities,” added Avey.

“Through many life experiences, I've witnessed the cycle of people struggling financially having to eat highly processed food that causes negative health effects,” said the Rev. Mahn. I've also been troubled by the traditional response to feeding people who are hungry, which creates a barrier between those who are being served and those who are serving. I wanted to create a place where everyone eats food that serves their bodies the way food is supposed to and where no one necessarily knows who is in need and who is there for other reasons.”

Royal Neighbors Director of Philanthropy Amy Jones presented the award and grant to Rev. Mahn on Thursday, September 8. “The Rev. Mahn has taken solving food insecurity to the next level. She has created a ripple effect by providing her customers and volunteers a place to not only nourish their bodies, but to build relationships, learn skills, and create new opportunities through volunteerism. The Rev. Mahn is a servant to her community solving an immediate problem and making a lasting impact, and she truly exemplifies the Royal Neighbors mission to empower women and support communities.”

The Nation of Neighbors grant will allow the Rev. Mahn and NEST Café to purchase additional kitchen equipment, pay for additional volunteers and employees to receive serve-safe certification, and launch community cooking classes.

To date, Royal Neighbors has awarded more than $2.5 million in Nation of Neighbors grants nationwide.

About Royal Neighbors of America

Royal Neighbors of America is a unique provider of life insurance and annuities whose mission is to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. Royal Neighbors was founded in 1895 as a membership organization by nine pioneering women who recognized the need to insure the lives of women and children. In 2020, Royal Neighbors was upgraded to “A Excellent” (3rd highest out of 13) by the AM Best Company for overall financial strength and ability to meet ongoing obligations to certificate holders. The rating was affirmed as of November 30, 2021. Royal Neighbors is a five-time Great Place to Work-Certified™ organization. For more information about Royal Neighbors of America, go to


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