Growing up in a tight-knit community where people recognized the importance of giving back was what motivated Jeremiah Pike to set up the Hamilton chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn with his brother, Nathan.
The concept is simple – the men meet four times a year for one hour and each donates $100 toward a charity that’s been chosen by the group. In one hour, they’ve raised $10,000 toward a good cause. “I love giving to charities and the concept of having a routine in place that made it easy to get involved was great,” says 38-year-old Jeremiah, who works as an account manager at RBC and sets up financial wellness programs and pensions for companies. He lives in Dundas with his wife and two sons.
The 100 Men group is an offshoot of the 100 Women Who Care group, which started in the U.S. in 2006 and is now a worldwide phenomenon. The groups bring together people from all backgrounds whose main interest is in helping their community. That simple concept has been a powerful motivator for communities to start their own groups and there are now hundreds of 100 Who Care groups across North America and even Europe, including for example in Ireland, Texas, Edmonton, Halifax and Oakville.
As Jeremiah says, the group appeals to people who have limited time but want to give to the community in a way that has a big impact. “A big part of my identity is that I always want to give back where I live.” That sense of wanting to give back came from growing up in Kincardine, a small town on Lake Huron, where he was active on various committees, and it has extended to his new home. “Hamilton is where I’m raising my children and I want to make sure that the city continues on this incredible journey of rejuvenation.”
Nathan says they’ve raised more than $70,000 and helped 10 “amazing” local charities, including City Kidz, 541 Eatery and Exchange, Food for Kids and Bob Kemp Hospice, Mission Services and The Baby Depot, which collects gently used clothes and diapers for new parents who are in need of assistance. Last year, they combined forces with the local 100 Women Who Care group and made a joint contribution of $18,000 to City Kidz. “The personal benefit of this is twofold – first we are supporting the organizations that work tirelessly to make Hamilton and area a better place for everyone to live, and second, we get the opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals who care about local community causes and are committed to community service,” says Nathan, who lives in Freelton.
They choose which charities to support after members make a pitch about a local charity or not-for-profit organization. “The main rule is that it’s local. You’re not helping a charity that benefits people somewhere else,” says Jeremiah, who also had a little push from his wife, Erin, who happens to be a member of the Hamilton chapter of 100 Women Who Care. “When I found out there wasn’t one here she said, ‘well, start one’,” he laughs.
Giving back to the community has its definite rewards. “The act of giving is a reward in itself. I walk away from meetings and I start thinking about what else can I do. I don’t feel drained. I am incredibly proud of the members involved,” Jeremiah says.
They’re also hoping to grow. The Hamilton group started with around 60 men and has grown to 95 and includes businessmen, bankers, retired teachers and firefighters. The group’s goal is to ‘break the 100 barrier.’ “I would love to challenge the youth of Hamilton to come out. They don’t have to give $100, even just $25, and they could join with four other guys. It’s not necessarily about how much you give but the fact that you’re giving at all.”
by Denise Davy
100 Men Who Give a Damn, Hamilton
100 Women Who Care, Hamilton