The group has raised more than $120,000 for 15 different local nonprofits
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Every quarter, nearly 200 Central New York women gather to network, enjoy refreshments and write a check for a minimum of $100 to a local 501(c)(3) charity.
Their organization, 100 Women Who Care CNY, is part of a national organization. Led by Anne Selover, the CNY chapter founders include Jennifer Savastino, Jody Martino and Annette Peters. The women started the chapter in fall of 2016.
“We have raised more than $120,000 for 15 different local nonprofits,” said Peters, a Baldwinsville resident. “They run the gamut from refugee resettlement organizations, one that supplies diapers for parents in need, another that builds and delivers beds and bedding to kids who don’t have their own beds, shelters, homeless, hospice programs and at-risk youth.”
The members nominate organizations and select three randomly. The board of 100 Women vets the organizations. Representatives of those three groups present their organization at the following meeting for five minutes and answer any questions from the ladies present. The 100 Women members anonymously vote on which will receive their checks that quarter.
“Many women bring more than one check because it’s always hard to decide,” Peters said.
Women unable to attend still write a check. Of course, since the pandemic began, the meetings have been virtual.
Peters misses the networking and the energy generated by the in-person meetings. However, meeting via Zoom allows the women to connect despite bad weather. It also keeps the donations flowing.
“At the following meeting, the benefited organization comes to talk about how they used the money,” Peters said.
For example, Empower Parkinson, Inc., of Syracuse recently received funding to purchase spin exercise bicycles to help improve their clients’ movement.
“We receive appeals from organizations, but we ask that nominations come through members,” Peters said. “It enhances our connections in the community as like-minded women. We get to do something good with a minimal investment of time and money.”
The meetings last about 90 minutes. Anyone may attend one meeting — no check required and no voting allowed — to see if she would like to become a member.
That one visit is usually all it takes.
“Usually, they want to come to the next one,” she said.
In addition to the pleasant feeling of doing good in the community, Peters said that she enjoys learning about the area.
“Every time we have a meeting, interesting things surface,” Peters said. “You think you know your community and what’s happening, but there hasn’t been a meeting that I’ve not walked away amazed at what people are doing, and at the needs.”
A single quarterly donation by the group is normally several thousand dollars. Members may give above their minimum if they would like. In recent meetings, donations have been a bit lower. Peters thinks that the lack of in-person meetings may be dampening their excitement. Some members may also have a different financial situation as well.
The meetings “bring to light the unbelievable work that people are doing in our community and the great need still out there, and it offers a way for women to meet each other and do something good together,” Peters said.
Though giving $100 a quarter may not be feasible for everyone, Peters encourages everyone to be charitable in some way.
“There are a lot of ways to give back to our community and it doesn’t have to be monetary,” she said. “Onondaga County has volunteer opportunities to help with the vaccination process, for example. We can give of our time if we can’t cut a check.”
Group Now Has 350 Chapters
The first chapter of 100 Women Who Care was founded in Jackson, Michigan, by the late Karen Dunigan.
Dunigan had learned that local mothers were bringing their babies home and putting them to sleep in boxes and dresser drawers because they couldn’t afford cribs, leading to the death of the infant in some cases.
Rather than seek a few large donors to meet the $10,000 goal for the project, Dunigan thought she knew 100 women who would be willing to donate $100. Those women raised more than $12,000 for the project and 100 Women Who Care was born.
Now, there are more than 350 chapters in the 100 Who Care Alliance, including chapters of 100 Kids Who Care and 100 Men Who Care.
The CNY chapter of 100 Women Who Care has donated to:
Hope Print, Purpose Farm, Franciscan Northside Ministries, David’s Refuge, CNY Diaper Bank, A Tiny Home for Good, Building Men program, In My Father’s Kitchen, Brady Faith Center, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, The Good Life Youth Foundation, Chadwick Residence, Honor Flight Syracuse, We Rise Above the Streets, Friends of Dorothy House, and Empower Parkinson, Inc.