“It’s the power of numbers,” explained Stacee Anderson, the enthusiastic organizer of 100 Women Who Care, a group brand new to Olympia. There is joyful satisfaction when making a charitable contribution. Imagine your $100 gift being magnified to $10,000. Now that’s exciting.
100 Women Who Care gatherings are popping up across the nation. Stacee read about groups that meet several times a year to financially support a local non-profit. Women gather for an hour, learn about three different organizations, vote for one and then everyone writes a $100 check to the top vote getter. The pile of checks is promptly delivered with a delightful flourish.
“That is so cool! I want to do that!” Stacee expressed with confidence even though she began with only herself to count. With a modest web presence, a willingness to talk with others and abiding faith that this was important, Stacee started on the path for a local meeting.
The Santa Barbara 100 Women Who Care also inspired Stacee. Their group has grown to 270 participants, so each quarter $27,000 is contributed to their community. Such a cash infusion is a remarkable boon to agencies who are usually running on limited financial resources. There is already a group in the Tacoma area, South Sound 100 Women, and another was just started in Grays Harbor called 100+ Harbor Women Who Care. Stacee believes there are at least 100 women right here in Thurston County who would be happy to pool resources to help our local non-profits.
There is no national organization to get guidance. Groups are started by individuals who put out the word. There are no officers, committee meetings, dues or cookie sales. Consequently, there are no funds for room rentals or coffee. Undaunted, Stacee approached South Sound Manor about using a room for a quarterly meeting. The Manor appreciated the intent of 100 Women Who Care and agreed to the use of a room without charge on an evening when other parts of the facility are already in use.
The inaugural meeting for Thurston County happened on a Wednesday evening in late November. Promptly at 6:00 p.m. introductions were made to a rousing group of 27 women (plus one baby) who wrote names of local organizations and put them into a hat. Three were picked out and each were allotted five timed minutes to talk up the community impact. There were a couple of minutes for questions and answers. Then everyone had a chance to chat and ponder their choices. Votes were tallied, the winner announced, and checks written. Pictures were snapped and people were on the way home in under an hour.
The three picks out of the hat were the Olympia Union Gospel Mission, Rainy Day Ranch and Relay for Life. Connie Bailey talked about the Olympia Union Gospel Mission. OUGM provides meals seven days a week for people, has free dental and vision clinics, and offers various programs for people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and addiction.
Liz Nelson thought the 100 Women concept was incredible. She is the volunteer coordinator for Rainy Day Ranch and told the group about the farm in northeast Olympia where adults and children can experience hippotherapy, which is the use of horseback riding as therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment to improve coordination, strength and balance. You can see touching videos on their website.
Jolene Harland organizes a team for the local Relay for Life. She told about the emotional participation of cancer survivors and the midnight lap with candles that honors those who have passed from cancer.
When the votes were counted, the Olympia Union Gospel Mission took the prize. Since then even more women donated, and the total has grown to $3,500.00. “We really want the money to stay local,” emphasized Stacee. An organization can only win once every two years.
The next meeting is scheduled for February 19. It’s an excellent opportunity to network personally and professionally. Bring your idea for an organization along with your checkbook. If your suggestion is drawn, be a well-prepared speaker. Five minutes is ample time to cover all sorts of information, however, if you are not ready, the time will slip by quickly and the chance is gone. It is a savvy group of women who are willing to listen and learn.
In the event you miss the meeting, you can mail your check to Stacee to be included with the others. It is also possible to attend the presentation of the contributions, if you are interested.