A Victoria charity dedicated to helping those with mental-health and addiction issues will receive $14,000 in donations, thanks to a quick and simple campaign harnessing the goodwill of local women.
“It sort of restores my faith in humanity,” said Gordon Harper, executive director of the Umbrella Society.
“It was a bit of a surprise and a boost in many ways.”
The Umbrella Society received the proceeds from the recent inaugural fundraising event of 100 Women Who Care Victoria. Harper said the funds will increase the organization’s annual budget by about five per cent and help them reach out to more youth.
“We’re just a group of women who put this together, wanting to do something simple and effective in the community,” said health and wellness consultant Miriam Byrne, a co-founder of 100 Women.
Last winter, Byrne and her friend Denise Grant were brainstorming ways to help local charities. They heard about the 100 Women concept, which started in Michigan in 2006 and has spread throughout the U.S. and Canada.
They gathered a core group of “leading ladies” to organize a website and Facebook group and enlist at least 15 friends each.
“We wanted to keep it simple, non-religous and non-biased,” Byrne said.
The concept fit perfectly. They find 100 women who commit to donating $100 to local charities at four meetings a year.
Each woman brings a nomination for a charity and prepares a case for them. Three charity nominations are randomly drawn at the meeting.
The nominators make a short presentation and then the entire group votes on who should receive the funds. Charities can be recipients only once every three years.
“Our only criteria is they have to be a registered charity [tax receipts are issued] and local. We want the money to stay in the community,” Byrne said.
The Umbrella Society won after a woman spoke about how it helped her family.
Byrne said the group’s expectations were far exceeded when more than 100 women attended the event, and membership is growing. “Every woman who walked through those doors had a sparkle. It really brings together people whose values are aligned,” Byrne said.
The meetings are kept under an hour. Business is conducted at the beginning to accommodate busy members, but there is social time afterward.
“There are so many charities in this town that are struggling and need help,” Byrne said.
The next 100 Women Who Care Victoria meeting takes place Wednesday, Dec. 3. For more information, go to 100womenvictoria.com.