A global charitable movement that began a decade ago in Jackson, Michigan has formed a new chapter in Carleton Place thanks to the networking efforts of local entrepreneurs Lynn Vardy and Jeannie Mongrain.
The 100 Women Who Care campaign – in which selected charities regularly meet up with potential donors, each armed with $100 cheques to be made out to a lucky recipient – began when American real estate agent Karen Dunigan heard through a local family health centre about the urgent need to provide proper cribs for local newborns. She pulled together 100 like-minded women who each wrote $100 cheques, raising enough for 300 cribs while inadvertently serving as the launch pad for a worldwide phenomenon that’s inspired over 500 chapters, including men’s groups as well.
Vardy, a Royal LePage realtor originally from Churchill Falls, Labrador was surfing the net last Christmas when she came across the campaign and found that it aligned with her values. Stunned that she’d never heard of it, shock turned to inspiration as she contacted her friend, Dominion Lending mortgage broker Jeannie Mongrain, and the two set about launching a local chapter.
Because Vardy and Mongrain were already natural networkers, having organized women in business breakfast events as well as wine and cheese socials, this new idea seemed a logical next step.
“Our motto is connecting to the community, whether that is one glass at a time at our wine socials or giving back to the community,” Vardy explains. “We can do a lot of stuff in an hour and have a lot of fun and laughs at the same time. We don’t have to sell tickets or organize a big event, and it makes a big impact.”
Mongrain, who grew up in Pembroke and settled in Carleton Place after 25 years in Ottawa, agrees, adding “we’re always trying to grow the network of people we know, our friends base, and this is another way to meet people in the community and at the same time give back.”
While there are numerous fundraising bodies in Lanark County – many with a national profile – Mongrain says the new group is attempting to focus on smaller charities that may be overlooked, and for whom relatively modest donations make a major difference. Among the criteria that the group considers when nominating potential beneficiaries is whether the funding will be dedicated to Lanark County initiatives only.
The group’s first recipient was the no-kill animal shelter LAWS, raising over $2,000. The Carleton Place chapter plans to meet four times a year as it grows its donor base to the century mark, and while only one group goes home with the evening’s proceeds, Vardy says there is still a major benefit to all the charities that are invited to make their pitch.
“It’s a real educational moment, because it’s a platform to let all these women know who they are and what they do, so some women who haven’t even heard of the group might go on to volunteer with them or at least pass on the word about the charity through their own networks,” Vardy says.
This was first published in the November issue of Hometown News. Missed an issue? Check them all out online.