It’s a full house at Market Brewing Company in Newmarket – unusual for a Wednesday night – as 100 local women gather from all across York Region in efforts to raise $10,000 dollars for a local charity in just one hour. The women take their seats around the tables, sipping on pints of craft beer with their chequebooks placed directly in front of them. Tonight, January 31st, 2018, is the second anniversary party of 100 Women Who Care Central York Region. And there’s plenty of reason to celebrate.
The 100 Who Care Alliance began in Jackson, Michigan in 2006, when a woman named Karen Dunigan learned about a group of mothers who were bringing their babies home to sleep in boxes because they could not afford their own cribs. Dunigan called on 100 female friends to donate $100 each to the mothers in need. Over 100 women met up to write their cheques, resulting in an incredible $12,800 donation.
Now, there are more than 550 fully operational chapters around the world, including chapters for women, men, kids, and teens. Thanks to Laurie Brakeboer of Newmarket, 100 Women Who Care Central York Region is one of them.
Brakeboer started the York Region chapter in the fall of 2015, after learning about the organization over coffee with a friend. “As soon as I heard about it, I said, ‘This seems to be exactly what defines me, and what I’ve always wanted to do, and I need to find out more,’” Brakeboer explains.
She hosted the initial meeting in October of 2015, with a goal of collecting 40 to 50 members by the end of the first year. They ended up securing 40 members in the first night alone. “It’s been amazing,” Brakeboer says. “We hit 100 members before our first anniversary. By our second, we were 150 members strong.”
100 Women CYR has raised a total of $83,700 for 10 local charities over the span of the last two years. The membership commitment is simple: show up four times a year, for one hour, and write your cheque for $100.
“It’s a giving circle – not a not-for-profit charity,” says Brakeboer. “We have nothing to do with the money per say. We rely on the goodness of local businesses, restaurants and golf courses to donate their space for our meetings because we don’t actually have the funds available for anything like that.”
When members arrive at the January event, they collect their envelopes holding a charitable receipt from their last donation before taking their seats. Brakeboer begins the meeting with a brief introduction, followed by a short thank you speech from a representative of MOBYSS, a local youth walk-in clinic/mobile bus, who shares plans for the chapter’s generous donation of $10,500, made in October of last year.
“The energy in the room, the camaraderie, those elements in and of themselves are amazing,” says Brakeboer. “On top of that, we get to learn about so many things happening in our communities that we might not have otherwise been aware of.”
Next, the names of two not-for-profit organizations are drawn at random, and the nominating members take their turns giving a five-minute presentation on the impact a $10,000 donation would have on their charity and local community. Nomination ballots are handed out to all of the members in attendance, and they cast their votes. Once all the ballots are totaled, the selected charity is announced, and members write their $100 cheques directly to the chosen charity.
100 Women Who Care CYR focuses on giving to grass roots, not-for-profit charities, meaning that in order to be nominated, the organization must not have a national fundraising program or campaign in place. After January’s anniversary party, the Character Community Slap Shot Program – which provides hockey training and equipment to low-income students in York Region – walked away with a donation of $10,100.
“Nothing is more important to me than being able to help make our community stronger and better,” says Brakeboer. “Our members come here knowing in just one hour of their lives, they can make a massive difference. I always said that I could give $100 to the Food Pantry, and it would help. But through 100 Women Who Care, we can give $10,000 – that’s no longer just feeding a family, but providing a refrigerator that feeds an entire community.”
100 Women Who Care
Central York Region