For this week’s Community Conversations, our host ST Billingsley spoke with Julie Beal and Hasna Ridwan, two members of the Gainesville-area 100 Women Who Care.
Q: So tell me about your organization.
A: Beal – So, we are a collective of women, who are trying to help charities in our local area. We call ourselves Gainesville, but we’re open to members from Fauquier, Loudoun, which we have currently in our ranks. And right now we’re about forty-two members strong, with a few teams in there, so technically it’s forty-four, but we come together for quarterly meetings, so we meet every three months. And everyone brings a check for one hundred dollars at the meeting, and our members—they suggest charities for our consideration. They put their names in a basket, we draw three names and those three people present their charities in five minutes or less, because we’re limited to a one-hour meeting. And then the members vote, and the wining charity receives all of the funds. So the idea is that when a large group of people come together, we can have much greater impact with our each individual one hundred dollar checks. So we’re trying to reach one hundred members, so we can give out ten thousand dollars quarterly to local charities.
Q: Well, sounds like a great idea. What organizations have you been able to help so far?
A: Beal – So our first quarter meeting was—we chose a family, a local family, they live in Haymarket. And it’s a veteran and his wife and their children. And the veteran came home from serving our country, and got involved in a terrible ATV crash and became paralyzed. They think that the crash may have been related to a traumatic brain injury that he received during his time of service to our country. And he needs his entire home rebuilt, so that he can come home to it. He’s currently in a VA facility in Richmond. So, we contributed our money to Rise Up Prince William, which is another charity that is leading the charge to the rebuild of his home. And then I’ll let Hasna talk about the second meeting.
Ridwan – And for that one we collected about three thousand, four hundred dollars. And at our second meeting, which we recently had, we all voted for Haymarket Food Pantry. And I think the hardest part of the meetings is voting for the charities, because every charity nominated is (JB: we almost had a tie) we almost had a tie last meeting because they’re great charities. And Haymarket Food Pantry, they serve about six hundred families, and in addition to the organization Serve they provide for, and I believe Barn. Did they say they provided for Barn too?
Beal – Maybe.
Ridwan – Yeah, I think so. And they also work with Wal-Mart, and Target, and work with them in getting more food, and their whole goal is just to provide food for community—for people who aren’t able to, so we—so far, we’ve raised about four thousand, two hundred dollars for that. And we’re hoping to get a little more than that, but that’s where we are right now.
Q: This is an organization—right now you are mainly in the Gainesville area, but anybody can come to it.
A: Beal – Yes, absolutely, as I said we have members from Loudoun County, and Fauquier County. So we welcome any woman who wants to come armed with her check. We also have a team concept as well. Where if a hundred dollars quarterly is a little bit too much for a person’s budget, they can join with another person, or persons, to collect one hundred dollars as a team and donate at the meetings. One hundred dollars is worth one vote, though. So if you have four people contributing twenty-five dollars, per meeting, then they have to decide collectively who they’re going to vote for as one group. So, we’re really trying to bring together women of all walks of life, all ages, towards this great cause of helping our local community.
Q: And this organization, isn’t just in Gainesville. This is a much bigger, national type of organization.
A: Ridwan – Yes. I believe there are about three hundred fifty chapters throughout the world. We chose to start A 100 Women Who Care, but there’s 100 Kids Who Care, 100 People Who Care, 100 Men Who Care, all different sorts of it. And it began with a woman in Jackson, Michigan in 2006. Her name was Karen Dunigan, and she was involved with a lot of charities in her life, and the one she was involved with in that particular time was to get cribs for women who didn’t have that access to them, but she had to do it in a short period of time, and she needed to raise about ten thousand dollars. So the idea that came to her head was I’ll call some friends, see if they’ll donate a hundred dollars, maybe we could meet together. She called a few friends, those friends called more friends, and within a week’s time they met in a common meeting area, and I believe they raised about twelve thousand, six hundred dollars for that one thing, and that’s kind of the lightbulb moment for her, that in a short period of time.
Q: Right, because around here, time is really, what’s important and valuable to people. And you know it does seem like people do want to help with different things in their community, and this is a way to be able to do it quick, fast, with you know what you’ll be able to donate, and actually have it go to a good cause. I think that it’s a really really great idea. So do you have anything coming up? A next meeting coming up?
A: Beal – We just had our meeting on May 11th for the second quarter. The third quarter we’ll meet in August. August 9th, and we’re still working on our meeting location, so that’s to be determined, but, it will be in the Gainesville-Haymarket area some place.
Q: So do you have a website, or Facebook page?
A: Beal – We do have a website. It’s 100womengainesville.com, and you can also search us on Facebook and find us that way as well.
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