APOLLO BEACH — The concept seems so simple: gather together a group of women who want to contribute to a good cause, briefly educate them about it, combine their donations into one lump sum and make a huge difference in the community.
Meet 100 Women Who Care. Since February 2012, these SouthShore women have dedicated themselves to helping local nonprofits and charitable causes find a new revenue source.
The group meets only four times a year and at each quarterly meeting, members nominate local charities or nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) certification. A member will place the name of the charity or organization she wishes to nominate into a basket before the meeting begins. Once the meeting starts, three of those names are drawn at random and a representative from that organization is given five minutes to present their need to the club. At the end of their pitch, a short time is allowed for questions and answers.
After all three representatives have completed their presentations, a secret vote is taken and tallied, and the charity that has the most votes is selected as the winner. Being chosen can have a great impact as each member writes a personal check for $100 made out to the chosen charity. In this way, all money donated goes directly to the organization. The meeting ends and the winning charity receives a collective gift for several thousand dollars. To date, this group has donated more than $74,650 to local organizations or families in need.
Since the founders, Ann Rand and her daughter AmberWatt, have taken a hiatus from the group, leadership has been handed over to original members Charlotte Clark and Debbie Van Ore.
"I've been a member of 100 Women Who Care since its inception," Van Ore said. "It's just a wonderful group to be a part of. We're all here for one sole purpose and that's to serve our community."
The winning organization at the most recent meeting was Cornerstone Family Ministries, whose mission is to help the plight of immigrant children and their families to overcome poverty and become self-sufficient. Cathy Stone, executive director of Cornerstone, urged members to support this organization and help end the cycle of poverty in the Tampa area. "We serve 28,000 children a year," Stone said. "Generational poverty is a sad situation. We are trying to break that cycle. We are their support system."
Last quarter's charitable cause receiving the benefits of 100 Women was Water Smart Tots, which focuses on drowning prevention among infants and small children by teaching them to swim and basic water safety. Hillsborough County ranks third in the nation in infant and child accidental drownings.
Overall, 17 charities have benefitted from this group of women. Causes like Angels for Foster Kids, My Warriors Place, the Firehouse Cultural Center, Metropolitan Ministries, Mary Martha House and the Hope Fund are just a few. 100 Women has yet to reach its goal of 100 members, but membership has increased from about 30 at its inception to more than 80 at its last meeting. When you do the math, consider 80 plus women each giving $100 to a cause that is in need of help.
"We're making a huge difference in the lives of these people," said member Karen Ransbury of Sun City Center. "It makes me feel so good to know that in some small way, I'm affecting not just one life, but many of them. When I walk out of there, I feel great knowing I've made a difference."
For more information on 100 Women Who Care, check them out on Facebook at 100 Women Who Care South Shore, email [email protected], or check out the website at 100wwcsouthshore.wix.com/tampa.
Or just come to a meeting. Quarterly meetings are held at the clubhouse at Mira Bay in Apollo Beach from 7 to 8 p.m. The dates for the 2016 sessions are Feb. 9, May 10, Aug. 23 and Nov. 1.
"When you hear the results from the people that you've helped, it makes it so exciting to be a part of this organization," co-chair Charlotte Clark said.
Contact Kathy Straub at [email protected]