100 Women group does worlds of good

By: Robin Ruehlen | Rochester Post | Published October 2, 2013

ROCHESTER — One hour, 100-plus women and $100 each all adds up to something wonderful for local charities.

On Oct. 9, the 100 Women Who Care of Greater Rochester will come together to award $10,000 to a nonprofit — the second such donation this year.

“We met initially in April with a core group of women and asked them each to put the word out and get 10 women to join us for our first meeting in June,” said Barbara Donohoe, who co-founded the local group along with longtime friends Amy Whipple and Linda Chayka.

“We didn’t know if it was going to work, but we ended up with 108,” Donohoe said.

100 Women Who Care was founded in 2006 by Karen Dunigan, of Jackson, Mich., as a way to raise money quickly and efficiently for local charities — bringing together 100-plus women who are committed to writing a $100 check for a good cause. Each woman is allowed to submit the name of her favorite charity during the one-hour meetings. Three slips are then chosen at random, and the three submitters are allowed to give a five-minute presentation on the charity’s needs. The winner is chosen by a group vote, and the members then write a check directly to that charity on that day. 100 Women groups are now located throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“Everybody was excited,” Donohoe said of the first meeting.

“I think it’s an empowering feeling because everyone is contributing. We heard three very heartfelt talks, and it imparted a lot of knowledge about things going on in the community we didn’t even know about,” she said.

“You really felt you accomplished something in a small amount of time.”

Donohoe said the meetings are “very structured,” with a strict time limit for speakers, questions and voting. Members meet four times per year, with each member pledging to donate $100 per meeting for an annual total of $400. New members are welcome.

“It’s a very nice format — you can be in and out and still do a good thing and be a part of something,” she said.

Rochester-based New Day Foundation for Families was the recipient of the group’s first $10,000 donation. New Day founder Gina Kell Spehn said in a statement that the donation is able to provide “hope and financial stability to dozens of young families whose lives have been altered by a devastating cancer diagnosis.”

“It’s an honor to be affiliated with 100 Women. With great efficiency, this group of women pack a powerful financial punch that makes it possible for organizations like New Day to have a profound impact on the lives of our friends and neighbors battling cancer,” she said.

Donohoe said Spehn will explain exactly how the donations were used at New Day during the Oct. 9 meeting — something future recipients will also do.

“I’m thinking we’ll have about 150-200 women at this upcoming meeting, and for those who can’t be there, we just send a follow-up email and tell them who to make the checks out to,” she said.

The next meeting will be held 7-8 p.m. Oct. 9 at the St. John Fisher Chapel, 3665 E. Walton in Auburn Hills.

For more information about 100 Women Who Care of Greater Rochester or to sign a commitment form, visit www.womenwhocare-greaterrochester.org or contact Amy Whipple at amynwhipple@gmail.com or (586) 254-1560.