100 Women Who Care Columbus steering committee members Charlotte Verdell, Marlies Bearden and Jan Miller show off their T-shirts prior to the group's inaugural meeting on April 16. The group has raised $12,800 from 128 members in a single month. That money will be awarded to a Lowndes County charity/community organization on June 18. Photo by: Courtesy photo
May 18, 2019 10:02:29 PM
The organization has been around for only a month, but its name is already something of a misnomer.
On Friday, 100 Women Who Care Columbus closed nominations for charities and organizations for its initial cash award, having raised $100 donations each from 128 Lowndes County women.
Call it 128 Women Who Care ... and Counting.
"We're still getting calls from women who want to participate," said Beth Imes, co-founder of the group that held its initial organizational meeting on April 16. "I know of about five other women who've said they want to participate, so who knows where it will end up? Gosh, it's already better than I could have ever imagined."
The 100 Women Who Care movement began in 2006 when a woman in Jackson, Michigan, turned to her friends and acquaintances to raise $100 donations toward providing baby beds for poor mothers who had just delivered their babies.
The idea was simple: Get 100 women to commit $100 each and pool the money to provide funds for charities and organizations that serve the community.
Forming the local chapter has been bouncing around in the heads of Imes and Jamie Davidson ever since they had lunch with a couple of nuns in New York three years ago. Neither had ever heard of 100 Women until the nuns mentioned over lunch that they had been awarded $10,000 by a 100 Women group to assist their efforts in running a free clinic. The nuns liked it because they didn't have to fill out any application and could use the money in any way they chose, based on the needs of their clinic.
On April 16, Imes and Davidson and a handful of other women held the Columbus group's first meeting. More than 85 women attended and things haven't slowed down since.
On June 18, the Columbus group will meet at the Courtyard Marriott to choose its initial award recipient. There were 14 nominations and the groups will be vetted to make sure each is a 501(c)3 organization in good standing that will use the funds exclusively in Lowndes County.
"It's been so amazing," Davidson said. "Not just the response, which was overwhelming, really, but just the energy. It's been so much fun."
As of Saturday, the group will award at least $12,800 to a local organization and since membership remains open, the amount will probably be greater than that for the June and the October awards.
Imes said the simplicity of the program is its greatest appeal.
"There are women who care about the community and want to help," she said. "... There are no long meetings, no committees, no fund-raising."
The group's 10-woman steering committee has spent the past month putting the organization together, including such things as creating social media platforms, developing a website, crafting membership and nomination forms and answering questions.
"It's a simple process, yes," Imes said. "But there are a lot of moving parts that we have to take care of, especially for this first award in June. After that, we'll poll our members and make some adjustments.
"The bottom line is keeping it simple," she added. "That's the biggest thing."
For more information, go to 100wwccolumbusms.org or find them on Facebook at 100 Women Who Care Columbus MS.
Editor's Note: - Beth Imes is the mother of Dispatch Publisher Peter Imes.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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