If every penny counts, imagine what could happen if these humble copper coins were replaced by a series of $50 cheques. Such was the case on June 29 during the first meeting of Powell River’s latest philanthropic startup, 100+ Women Who Care, Powell River Chapter.
The premise was simple: gather a large group of women together in a room, each with a charitable organization of choice. Then, select three at random and invite their spokespeople to make a pitch. Finally, take a vote and write cheques for the winning cause.
“We weren’t sure what to expect, and thought since this was such a new endeavour, we might see 30 or 40 people,” said 100+ Women founding director of marketing and communications Jessica Thomson. “One or two began to trickle in, and then before we knew it we had a lineup out the door of women waiting to sign in for the evening.”
In the end, more than 80 showed up, with even more sending donations with a friend. Hundreds are now subscribed to a mailing list for updates and a Facebook group is gaining members daily.
The idea dates back to 2006 when Michigan-based businesswoman Karen Dunigan was looking for a way to fund the purchase of baby cribs for a local organization in need. She gathered together 100 of her peers and encouraged each to write a cheque for $100. Within minutes, more than $10,000 had been raised.
Several months later, Dunigan tried it again. Eventually her philanthropic idea took on a life of its own; the 100 Who Care Alliance was born and now includes more than 400 chapters worldwide, including groups for men, women and children.
“A few of our local chapter’s founding members had heard about the 100 Who Care Alliance, but it was Lori Casparie, our treasurer, who was the spark that ignited us to take action,” said Thomson.
The committee includes chair Tara Chernoff, secretary Wendy Spreeuw, membership coordinator Cindy Villani and official photographer Leah Laurie.
After an initial discussion in early April, things moved fast. By the end of June, members were sitting with dozens of their friends and colleagues in a donated meeting space at Powell River Town Centre Hotel listening to local charities hold the floor.
“The presentations were quite stirring,” said Thomson. “We have some awareness of the local charities and non-profits, but rarely do we get to hear in detail the type of impact they are making on our community.”
Three organizations shared their stories that day: Hands Across the Water, a refugee sponsorship group; Powell River Christian School, which unveiled plans for an inclusive playground for children of all abilities; and Friends of Powell River, whose representatives described their efforts to provide food, clothing and activities for underprivileged children in the community.
After careful deliberation, Friends of Powell River emerged with more than $5,500 in funding, while both runners-up received $150 each.
“We will be able to pay for a school year’s worth of breakfast, lunch and snacks for little ones who need it at three different schools,” stated Friends of Powell River founder Melanie Jordan in a media release.
Thomson said it was a special feeling to be in a room full of women who are so passionate about community and collaboration.
“There is a lot of love here in Powell River,” said Thomson. “It was more than evident at our first meeting.”
100+ Women Who Care’s next meeting takes place at 7 pm on September 28 at Powell River Town Centre Hotel, followed by meetings to be held every four months.
For more information, search 100WomenPR on Facebook or email 100womenPR@gmail.com.