WELLINGTON COUNTY – Designed as a quick and easy fundraiser combined with some social time, it’s rather astounding that three 100 Men/Women Who Care organizations in Wellington County have continued to meet and make donations during the pandemic.
Especially since two of the clubs were just getting going in 2020 and the pandemic cancelled the socializing component. And some members took financial hits and weren’t able to continue to make donations.
But all three have been active and remain intact and each has given to local charities four times a year since the pandemic began.
100 Women Who Care Rural Wellington had the advantage of already being established when March 2020 rolled around.
The group started in 2018 and will celebrate its fourth anniversary this June.
Deborah Whale said in an interview that she kept in touch with members when the pandemic began and there was a will to continue. So they did.
“We did our December meeting on Zoom and it was really fun,” said Whale.
“We told them to dress in their PJs or an ugly Christmas sweater and bring a glass of wine.
“We finally got to see each other – some of our new members I had never seen before. I think we’ve done very well.”
The rural Wellington group has 100 members who meet four times a year. At each meeting three worthy charities are drawn from a hat; the club members who nominated the charities make their pitches; and after the three charities are presented, members choose the one they will support.
At $100 per member per meeting, the club generates $40,000 over the course of the year and distributes it to four charities – one per meeting.
That’s the best part of 100 Women Who Care Rural Wellington, Whale said.
“We look at all of Wellington County and the charities are all over the map,” she said.
“What I love most is learning about the charities.”
They’ve given to Portage, Hospice Wellington, Victim Services Wellington, the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington, the Integrated Youth Services Network (now called the Grove), and VON, to name but a few.
“These 100 Women groups are all over Canada and the U.S.,” Whale said. “They bring women together who really want to do something. We are stronger together and it’s really exciting when women do things like this.”
The inaugural meeting of 100 Women Who Care Centre Wellington was held in January 2020 and 125 women attended, said organizer Tracy Bachly.
“It just blew up, right from the beginning,” she said.
The Centre Wellington group uses the same format, although the pandemic has affected some members and not everyone is able to donate $100 at each meeting, she said.
Still, in its two years, the group has given a total of $64,000 to charities in Centre Wellington “which is pretty good considering COVID,” she said.
Bachly said she has been involved in charitable fundraisers in the past, and this is so much easier, she said.
“People want to do something in the community but can’t make an ongoing commitment,” Bachly said. “This is simple – it’s one hour four times a year. It’s a little more work for me, but for everyone else it’s super easy and that’s what they like.
“What I like is learning about the charities,” she added, noting she hadn’t heard of Elora House and the work it does to help those caught in sex trafficking before a member made a pitch for the charity at a meeting.
The Centre Wellington Men Who Care group has a similar story.
It launched in May 2020, “right when we were in the thick of the pandemic,” said Curt Hammond, an organizer of the men’s group.
“I had the idea but got sidetracked. But with the pandemic, it was a good time to reach out. That really was the impetus.”
This group has yet to meet in person, but they do meet via Zoom.
The men’s group invites the charities to speak on their own behalf and invites past winners back to report on how the funds were used.
They also begin meetings with a land acknowledgement.
And while 100 per cent of the donations made by the women’s groups goes directly to the charity, the men’s group has started an endowment fund with the Centre Wellington Community Foundation. So 75% of the money raised goes to the selected charity and 25% to the endowment fund.
Hammond said the men’s group hasn’t yet reached 100 members. To date there are 30 or 40 members and they have given away almost $17,000 and have $4,000 in the endowment fund.
“This will grow,” Hammond said, adding the fund could be used for an annual scholarship award or another good purpose.
“There is a lot of learning going on in that hour and I think we’re building community now too. But we really look forward to getting together, whenever that can happen. I think that’s when we’ll really take off.”
The three groups are always looking for new members.
100 Women Who Care Rural Wellington
Next meeting: March
CW100 Women Who Care
Next meeting: March 3
CW Men Who Care
Next meeting: February