There’s no charity too small or too obscure for consideration by 100 Women Who Care Ottawa, a group of women who share a common desire to give back and inspire local philanthropy in their community.
The grassroots group was founded nearly four years ago, getting its inspiration from its male counterpart, 100 Men Who Care Ottawa. Its members hold quarterly one-hour meetings that involve socializing, without the schmooze, and raising money, without the costs. All that's required is that the women give a little, together, to make a positive impact.
Over the course of 100WWCO's 16 meetings, it has heard from 48 organizations and raised more than $135,000 for the community. The group has yet to reach 100 members, but it’s still hoping to get there.
100WWCO met Monday at its usual haunt, the Heart & Crown in Little Italy, where light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages were provided, courtesy of the Irish pub.
Representatives from three non-profit organizations stood up and gave their spiel on why they were a donation-worthy charity. After hearing them out and getting a chance to ask questions, each member decided where they wanted their $100 to go.
OrKidstra, which gives kids in underserved areas of the city an opportunity to learn classical music, had a double advantage; not only was executive director Tina Fedeski accompanied by some charming youth, but they performed beautifully for the room on clarinet and violin.
Evelyn Stone spoke passionately about the Little Angels Blood Cancer Fund. It provides financial support to qualified patients undergoing treatment for blood cancer or a stem cell transplant at The Ottawa Hospital. It’s run by a volunteer group of blood cancer survivors, with Stone serving as president.
Major gifts and planned giving officer Tricia Johnson reminded everyone how the Ottawa Food Bank helps more than 38,000 people each month and that, of that number, 14,000 are under the age of 18. That’s almost enough to fill the Canadian Tire Centre.
For management consultant Juliann Castell, it’s the “simplicity” of the initiative that first attracted her to 100WWCO. The group has chapters throughout Canada, the United States, and beyond.
“It’s grassroots fundraising, and I know how difficult it is to raise money for small organizations,” said Castell, who’s on the 100WWCO steering committee. “Some of the organizations that we’ve highlighted here you’ve likely never heard of before.”
By that, she means a parrot-rescue organization (not every owner can handle "Polly want a cracker" for 70 years, which is about how long parrots can live), a Community Laundry Co-op that provides affordable laundry facilities to low-income residents, and Helping with Furniture, a volunteer-run group that’s particularly good at providing gently used furniture and household goods to refugee families. Those are just a few of the lesser-known causes that have received donations from the women over the years.
Each gathering sees the group nominate, via ballot box, the charities for the next meeting, held four months' down the road.
100WWCO members include the legendary Grete Hale. She arrived Monday looking splendid and well. She's 88, and still driving herself around.