Women of the community gather to learn about 100 Women Who Care at the Courtyard Marriott Tuesday evening. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
April 17, 2019 10:25:53 AM
Someone who wandered into the large first-floor meeting room at the Columbus Marriott Tuesday evening would have immediately recognized that the 94 people gathered there had one thing in common: They were all women.
The similarities pretty much ended there.
Among the recognizable faces, you could see members of the Lowndes County Republican women seated near women you couldn't drag to a Republican event. There were young women, old women, white women, black women, elected women, apolitical women, tall women, short women.
It was like flipping through a Dr. Seuss book.
The other common quality, proven by their presence, was that each has an interest in helping their community through the simple act of giving.
By the end of the 45-minute meeting, 94 women had signed up to create a chapter of 100 Women Who Care, each pledging to give $100 twice a year to support 501(C)(3) organizations who help citizens on Lowndes County.
Probably another dozen or so who could not attend Tuesday's organizational meeting had already pledged their support. So it's 100-plus Women Who Care.
If you do the math, that's more than $10,000 raised for the group's first "Impact" award, which will be given when the group holds its next meeting and collects money for the second award, which will be given in October.
That's more than $20,000 to support organizations in their work right here in our community.
100 Women Who Care 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.
Tuesday, the group of women gathered at the Marriott became the latest of 600 chapters to organize since then. That's more than - likely far more than- 60,000 women contributing more than $12 million for good work in communities from one end of the country to the other.
At a time when many people feel helpless to make a real difference, the 100 Women Who Care stand as a beacon of hope and empowerment.
It is also a brilliant example of simplicity.
Consider: Local chapters are independent from the national organization. There are no dues, no requirements apart from ponying up the $200 each year, no elections for officers, no committees, no lobbying (on the night the Impact Award recipients are chosen, three finalists are chosen at random, then the membership votes on the winner. Most votes win. Easy-breezy).
There are no fund-raisers or cold calls for donations. Nobody has to bake anything, thank God.
The success of the group will largely rise or fall on the ability to keep it simple and, based on Tuesday's meeting, it seems obvious the organizers understand that. KISS (Keep It Simple, Sister) will be the byword.
The idea for the local chapter has been bouncing around in the heads of Beth 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 have been awarded $10,000 to assist their efforts in running a free clinic by the group. The nuns like 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.
Imes and Davidson finally put their long-simmering idea in action around December, talking to women they knew about starting a chapter.
Entirely by word of mouth, the chapter exceeded its goal of 100 members by the end of their first meeting Tuesday.
That's like hitting a home run on the first pitch of the game.
And I suspect, this group will do more than it intends or could even imagine.
As these women get to know each other, they will, no doubt, find common ground and common causes in groups of five or 10 or 15 and strike out on their own missions. No doubt, the process itself will inform women of the scope of range of charitable and service organizations all across the county.
In that sense, 100 Women Who Care will likely become the hub of the wheel.
Two of those groups may receive Impact awards, but many more will the strengthened as the awareness of these groups increases.
Beyond that, this group breathes a much-needed spirit of optimism and hope in a community that often seems besieged by bad news.
Near the end of the meeting Tuesday, one woman thanked Imes and Davidson for their efforts to get the chapter started.
"Thanks for doing this," she said. "Women get things done."
Publisher's disclosure: 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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